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Released via a limited edition CD on the Bocian imprint, Octopus is the product of a three-way collaboration between a trio of iconic French musicians - harpist Hélène Breschand and avant-garde composers Éliane Radigue and Kasper T. Toeplitz. Expect a unique journey into avant-garde classical territory. 

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Limited edition CD on Bocian.

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Octopus by Helene Breschand / Eliane Radigue / Kasper T. Toeplitz
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8/10 Jamie 12 September 2019

Interesting collaborative project this, from a trio of feted French composer-musicians: harpist Hélène Breschand and avant-garde composers Eliane Radigue and Kasper T. Toeplitz. Of the three of them, I’m most familiar with Radigue and her electroacoustic tendencies (I listen to Radio 3 quite a lot these days) and she studied with Pierre Schaeffer, you know, and worked as Pierre Henry’s studio assistant in the late ‘60s. Also, she’s a Buddhist! So... although I can’t really relate spiritually exactly, it’d be quite hard to dislike her. 

The music on this CD, then. It ticks the following boxes: instrumental, experimental, electroacoustic, improvised, avant-garde (that word again)..., noise. Noise... NOISE. As opposed to DRONE, obviously. There are two very long tracks here, each at just over 26 minutes in length.

This stuff starts very quietly, then slowly but surely gets very very loud -- the first ‘half’ ('Occam Ocean XVI') washes in gently on an ocean wave but that wave brings in lots of interesting sounds amidst a barrage of white and pink noise which builds until a sudden crash, almost silence and then rebuilds before ebbing away on a tide of froth and fuzz.

Second ‘half’ ('Convergence, Saturation & Dissolution') fades in and very quickly begins to disorientate this reviewer, with sounds that pan across the stereo field and appear to come from a didgeridoo but I’m guessing are made with a harp and other objects and treatments. Then an ‘actual’ harp sound makes itself apparent and it’s kinda lush -- like a luxurious, soothing balm after the corrosive, abrasive, exfoliating textures which preceded it. Then there are a bunch of other sounds which are less nice, but what do I know? It’s probably genius.


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