The microFestival 2000 was reviewed
by the Mark Alburger for San Francisco Classical Voice and 21st Century Music Journal


microFestival(musique Acousmatique [Rendered on Tape])

Saturday, July 29, 2000 - 9pm
557 Howard Street, San Francisco
(Downtown, between 1st and 2nd)
(415) 896-6434 . . . . . . $6 - $10

This is a new ART.
The works on the microFestival, all composed in the 1990's, are a good example of [what we think is] the eminent renaissance of audio ART. All the pieces presented here transcend simplistic notions of music and its materials and its "instruments." The recording/playback media itself is treated not as a stand-in for an absent performer, a poor man's orchestra, but as a vital and unique territory for exploration/exploitation. The works presented coexist in many worlds, blurring the line between composition, field recordings, sound design, "cinema for the ear," virtual [audio] reality, "radio" drama, and sound synthesis.

This ART does not depend upon the posturing of performers.
[which one "purchases" in all commodified "entertainments"] Neither does it worship the technology with which it was produced, nor does it fetishize the physical medium in which it is contained. There is no stage with beautiful people spinning knobs and punching keys for the audience to idolize here!

This may NOT be music.
[in the same way cinema is NOT theatre]. A darkened room filled with loudspeakers becomes a beach with children playing in the hands of Jonty Harrison, a cobbled street for Robert Dow, a dark consciousness with Jo Thomas, a haiku without words for Hideko Kawamoto, a Tarot reader's parlor for Elainie Lillios, a subatomic world of antecedents and consequents for Adrian Moore, the incarnation of a woman for Jean-Claude Risset, an unspoken mind-space for Maggi Payne, an abstract expressionist portrait for David Slusser, an afternoon halucination with Matthew Adkins, a place of mystical conjuring for Joseph Anderson. It becomes a space where anything can happen. Perhaps this is why this new ART defies music.



Matthew Adkins (England) Melt (1994) 11:50
Elainie Lillios (Denton, TX) Arturo (1999) 13:35
Hideko Kawamoto (Denton, TX/Japan) Night Ascends from the Ear like a Butterfly (1999) 8:10
Robert Dow (Scotland) Season of Mists (1998) 9:35


Adrian Moore (England) SuperStrings (1999) 12:25
Maggi Payne (Berkeley) Apparent Horizon (1996) 11:50
Jonty Harrison (England) Unsound Objects (1995) 12:59


David Slusser (Oakland) Kubrick (1998) 1:30
Joseph Anderson (Oakland) Kyai Pranaja (1998) 19:00
Jo Thomas (England) Dark Noise (1999) 10:25
Jean-Claude Risset (France) Invisible Irene (1995) 12:18




for 2 track tape

by Jean-Claude Risset


Invisible Irene, commissioned by the Sonic Arts Network, is an homage to soprano Irene Jarsky, whose voice is heard throughout the piece.


The piece uses fragments of texts by Tchouang-tseu (Zhuangzi), a Chinese Tao poet and philosopher of the IVth century B.C., which evoke sounds and beings, extrems and contradictions, sky and earth, nature, words and speech, ideas, breath, void. It also quotes Wang Wei, Lao Tseu, Dante, Basho, Heine, Goethe, Longfellow et Leopardi. Although it does not use text by Italo Calvino, it is freely inspired by Calvino's book Le citte invisibili, which appealed to Irene Jarsky.


In Calvino's work, Kublai Khan, the Emperor of China, listens to Marco Polo describing the many cities he visited. These cities have women's names. In fact, they are the product of dreams - or nightmares: they express desires, phantasms, fears, processes, utopias, deep schemes. As in chinese poetry, which attemps to organize words in space, Marco Polo delivers a spatial description of time, he imagines a geography of mind and memory, he unveils a different world which is true and speaks to us because he invented it.


Many of the sounds which dialogue with the voice of Irene Jarsky do not come either from a physical world that can be seen and touched. Sonic transformations bring the voice in a fictitious, virtual acoustics, which is not the audible trace of mechanical vibrations in a material world. Resorting to digital synthesis and processing permits to implement immaterial processes, to produce illusory bells, gongs and voices, to set the sounds in imagined spaces similar to Calvino's invisible cities - even though Calvino's imagination is more agile and varied than the sound simulacra we are able to produce. As stated by the chinese poet and painter Wang Wei, things must be both present and absent. Without trying to visit the many themes and mythical cities found in the texts of Tchouang-tseu and Calvino, the metaphorical suggestions of Invisible Irene attempts to evoke through sound images some haunting schemes of these texts.

The piece lasts 12mn15s. It was realized on 2 track tape by computer. The sounds acompanying the voice of Irene Jarsky have been obtained by synthesis or processing, using the resources of the Groupe de Musique Experimentale de Marseille and the Laboratoire de Mecanique et d'Acoustique of CNRS. One can thus hear illusory voices synthesized with the MUSICV program, harmonically composed timbres produced with MUSICV or SYTER, voices transformed in various ways - time-stretching without frequency transposition, harmonizations, hybrids of voice and wind sounds, obtained with the SOUND MUTATIONS program, calling for the Gabor and the wavelet transform. The author is specially indebted to Daniel Arfib.


Invisible Irene was awarded the MUSICA NOVA Grand Prize (Prague, 1995)