SUAL Archives | 2013

Éliane Radigue: Kyema — listening room

Duration:     11‘07“ (excpt)
Type:             Source recordings provided by the label
Notes:           Released as part of the CD Trilogie De La Mort,
                        Experimental Intermedia Foundation, 1998 (XI 103)

Kyema (Trilogie de la Mort)

This profound work of electronic music on three CDs is based on the composer’s complete immersion in Tibetan Buddhist teaching, and takes its title from Thomas Merton’s Trilogy on Death: “Going beyond death in this life, beyond the dichotomy of life and death, and so to become a witness to life itself.” The first “chapter” is “Kyema,” composed during the years 1985-1988. It was inspired by texts of the Bardo-Thödol (a book of the dead) and “evokes the six intermediate states which constitute the ‘existential continuity’ of being: Kyene (birth), Milam (dream), Samtem (contemplation and meditation), Chikai (death), Chönye (clear light), and Sippai (crossing and return).” The slowly changing timbres create quite physical resonances and density modulations, suggesting encounters with traveling personalities, some comforting, some evoking deep and strange spirits. “Kyema” is dedicated to the composer’s son Yves Arman, who passed away in a car accident shortly before its completion. The second chapter, “Kailasha” (1988-1991), is “an imaginary journey around the most sacred of the Himalayan mountains, Mount Kailash,” but since the mountain is considered a “natural mandala,” the work also attempts to recreate the illusion found in works of visual artists Albers and Escher, where one perspective overlaps and flips over into another, involuntarily. The composer considers “Kailasha” to be “the most chaotic part of the trilogy” and deeply unnerving. “Koumé,” the third chapter, emphasizes the transcendence of death. The title of “Koum锑s fourth subsection quotes the Bible in Corinthians XV (“O Death, where is thy victory?”): “Ashes of illusion becoming light. Descent to the deepest, where the spark of life is. There, Death is born. Death becomes birth. Actively re-beginning. Eternity — a perpetual becoming.”

[“Blue” Gene Tyranny, All Music Guide, USA]

Éliane Radigue

Éliane Radigue was born in Paris, France. She studied electroacoustic music techniques at the Studio d’essai at the RTF, under the direction of Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry (1957-58). She was married to the artist, Arman, and devoted ten years to the education of three children, deepening classical music studies and instrumental practice on the harp and piano at the same time. In 1967-68 she worked again with Pierre Henry, as his assistant at the Studio Apsome. Radigue worked for a year at the New York University School of the Arts in 1970-71. Her music, its source an Arp synthesizer and medium recording tape, attracted considerable attention for its sensitive, dappled purity. She was in residence at the electronic music studios of the University of Iowa and California Institute of the Arts in 1973. Becoming a Tibetan Buddhist in 1975, Radigue went into retreat, and stopped composing for a time. When she took up her career again in 1979, she continued to work with the Arp synthesizer which has become her signature. She composed Triptych for the Ballet Théâtre de Nancy (choreography by Douglas Dunn), Adnos II & Adnos III, and began the large-scale cycle of works based on the life of the Tibetan master, Milarepa. […] recently, in response to the demands of musicians worldwide, she has begun creating works for specific performers and instruments together with electronics.

[Lovely Music, USA]

[info as of 11/2013]