PAUL DOLDEN - BEBOP BAGHDAD
Prix Opus 2016-17: Disque de l’année — Finaliste
"A striking and visceral listening experience throughout…""
The Sound Projector, RU
"Sublime" — SilenceAndSound, France
Many guitarists cut their musical teeth via jamming. With players taking turns soloing and sensitively backing up the other soloists, it remains the ideal forum to display your chops and pick up new tricks through careful listening.
BeBop Baghdad is a fantasy based on the jam session. A live guitarist solos through most of the work, while a room full of musical playmates is simulated by a pre-recorded tape part.
Like in a live jam session, musical styles can quickly change on a player’s whim, and the musicians must remain alert to follow the flow. In the first half of BeBop Baghdad, the soloist is surrounded by free-jazz style reeds, winds and brass. In the second half the soloist is supported and challenged by a rhythm section that hops from a Latin music club to a Nashville Country music stage, and from a New York City jazz club to a suburban basement seething with speed metal.
Surprisingly, every locale is visited by an ensemble of Arabian musicians, lending an exotic flavor and further testing the soloist’s abilities.
Fortunately, our guitar hero has just returned from a tour of Iraq, where he was swinging, rocking and trilling with the locals. The recurring themes based on Arabic scales lend continuity to BeBop Baghdad through the wildly shifting scenes.
BeBop Baghdad was realized in 2013 at the composer’s studio in Val-Morin (Québec) and premiered by Maurizio Grandinetti on March 2, 2014 at Teatro delle Passioni in Modena (Italy).
The piece was commissioned by Maurizio Grandinetti, with support from the CCA.
Premiere March 2, 2014, Maurizio Grandinetti, electric guitar • Maurizio Grandinetti — Dettagli, Teatro delle Passioni, Modena (Italy)
About this Recording This version of BeBop Baghdad was performed and recorded by Maurizio Grandinetti in Basel (Switzerland) in April 2015, and mixed by the composer at the composer’s studio in Val-Morin (Québec) in November 2015.
Stuart Marshall, The Sound Projector, 11 mai 2018
Electroacoustic storyteller Paul Dolden has long been interested in the intersections of music and mythology, coding his theories on the sounds of ancient cultures as densely textured metaphors, from 1990’s Below the Walls of Jericho to today’s Music Of Another Present Era.
In Histoires d’histoire, he feeds us his intoxicating blend of memory, musical scales and imagination as a pan-global soup of backwards gongs, scattergun samba flurries and hyper-real ensembles whirling on a carousel of mythical time; martial percussion rattling off in Janek Schaeffer nostalgium; microtonal musics of diffuse cultures united by their complexity, faux-improvisational verve and shamanic ecstasy.
The outlier (of sorts) is the jam sesh in BeBop Baghdad where some righteous six-string noodling competes for breathing space with a molten brass band. I wonder if this is what Derek Bailey dreamed of after jamming with Buckethead at Company ‘91? A striking and visceral listening experience throughout, but aesthetically and socially a perfect fit for the Empreintes DIGITALes label, which is a stable of mostly Francophone electroacousticians who’ve been showered with awards for outstanding achievements in the field of electronic excellence…
if you’ve not stopped by, then here’s your chance!
Roland Torres, SilenceAndSound, 11 octobre 2017
Guitariste, violoniste et violoncelliste, Paul Dolden est un compositeur touche à tout qui a su depuis ses débuts, combiner l’héritage musical de notre passé, au sens global du terme, et modernité, via l’utilisation des nouvelles technologies pour tisser des liens étroits entre racines disparues et imaginaire mondialiste.
Toujours à la recherche de ce que nos ancêtres ont composé et dont la plupart des œuvres ont complètement disparu, ne laissant pour toute trace que des systèmes de notations musicales au déchiffrage souvent approximatif, Paul Dolden invente un langage qui lui est propre, mixant sonorités du monde et approche contemporaine, dessinant de nouvelles contrées aux géographies abstraites, où l’on peut croiser harmonies moyen-orientales, free jazz, rythmiques tribales et expérimentations électro-acoustiques, le tout formant un conglomérat impressionnant, aux images cinématographiques puissantes.
Regroupant trois pièces créées entre 2012 et 2013, Histoires d’histoire manipule les temps et les astres pour nous faire voler sur des tapis volants au dessus de déserts magnifiés par les désaccords et les fuites en avant, plongée abyssale dans un chaudron magique aux vertus rafraichissantes, jonction entre les frasques de l’humanité et ses points communs, rapprochement des mondes et des modes, à coups de narrations sublimées par la richesse des vocabulaires employés, écourtant les distances entre l’histoire et l’infini. Sublime.
Simon Cummings, 5:4, 10 septembre 2017
Nobody — but nobody — makes music that sounds like Paul Dolden. His work typically exhibits unchecked exuberance, both his instrumental and electronic (and electroacoustic) music not merely firing on all cylinders, but with their inner workings ludicrously pimped and their processors absurdly overclocked, sounds and timbres piled on top of each other in extremis. His latest disc, Histoire d’histoire, on the Canadian acousmatic label empreintes DIGITALes, is therefore interesting as in many respects it shows considerable restraint. Much of the disc is devoted to Dolden’s five-movement work Music of Another Present Era, completed last year, in which he sets out to create a kind of deliberately inauthentic ethnographic artefact. Dolden uses our lack of knowledge about the music of ancient cultures to construct a free-wheeling flight of fancy, employing a “metaphoric use of myths” as inspiration rather than seeking to fabricate a pointless (and impossible) ersatz ‘reconstruction’. This imagined historical survey perhaps accounts in part for the demonstrable delicacy shown in this piece. Yet even from the opening moments, it’s unequivocally Dolden: microtonally unique instruments — implying the lack of a coherent, codified tuning scheme — wheeze into life as though summoning up their energy only with considerable effort, presenting a unified but ‘doddery’ demeanour. This is how first movement Marsyas’ Melodies begins (evoking the Phrygian Satyr who was supposedly the first to create music for the flute), eventually restarting in order to find some clarity, whereupon Dolden’s characteristic dense polyphony swells up, leading to Zappa-esque florid percussion and strangely agile stodge. Flutes are featured even more in third movement Entr’acte, in which a solid chorus of them is created, so compacted that they constantly clash and jostle and scrape against each other to the point where they can hardly move.
Contemporanea? Stefano Isidoro Bianchi, Blow Up, no 230-231, 1 July 2017
Stuart Bruce, Chain DLK, 21 juin 2017
Unusually for this genre, the press release on Histoires d’histoire is sparse — a simple list of titles, durations, dates and credits. There’s no written rationale or post-justification with heavy use of adjectives — the music will justify itself. And it really does.
It’s a collection of long, expansive and ambitious avantgarde classical pieces that combine ‘proper’ modern classical in the style of Ligeti or Bartók with a range of more Eastern-sounding percussive instrumentation, and gentle and occasional use of post-production, re-processing and resampling at unexpected moments. The histories being squared here are not purely Western, not purely any tradition, perhaps a history from a universe parallel to our own.
Music Of Another Present Era is the main work, in five distinct and individually named parts. After the warm overture of Marsyas’ Melodies, Shango’s Funkiness is a percussive workout, at times sounding like an improvised drum workshop descending into either confusion or ennui before repeatedly recovering. Shortest piece Entr’acte is the most Ligeti-esque, bursts of long and then short string sustains flirting with cacophony, segueing into Air of The Rainbow Robe and Feathered Skirt which has a similar attitude with a broader, more operatic palette. It evolves further as The Cosmic Circle Dance treats the same ingredients with an extra spark of spontaneity, before twisting into a kind of bizarre alt-jazz in the final third — an obtuse way to wrap up.
Two further long pieces, each a few years old, fill the CD almost to its brim. The eighteen-minute BeBop Baghdad is, despite the name, practically prog rock — long noodling guitar notes playing over sporadic percussion, like a kind of subdued and Eastern-influenced Yes or Robert Fripp piece in parts. The sixteen-minute Show Tunes in Samarian Starlight is similarly adventurous, but with the central instrument switched from Maurizio Grandinetti’s electric guitar to Łukasz Gothszalk’s layered-up B-flat trumpet, bringing proceedings back into the weirder suburbs of out-there jazz.
It’s an extensive 80-minute journey through a whole heap of ideas, sounds and moods, a real patchwork quilt of organic ideas arriving and departing with plenty of energy and a hint of frivolity. That playfulness and slight shortage of coherence disempowers it somewhat from being a really ‘wow’-inducing listening experience, but it’s a very out-there listen.
Lawrence Joseph, Musicworks, no 128, 1 June 2017
Amazingly, the whole somehow exceeds the sum of its uncountable parts on this CD, where traditional compositional techniques are brought to new extremes.