Paths CD | granny16
Release date: May 2016
Edition number: 100
Mastered by Erik Nystrom
Edition of 100 copies
Design and artwork by Opora
Paths consists of five compositions forming a totality of 53 minutes. The music is derived from three multichannel pieces premiered at the Tectonics festival in Reykjavík (2014), the Ephémère series in The Hague (2014) and Présences électroniquefestival in Paris (2015). These have been further reduced, combined and rearranged resulting in the five compositions found on the album.
We may think of music as navigating between different moments of continuous change. One chooses a starting point and from there tries to reach other positions. The way a contact between these occurs is however always different and depends on the engagement with previous points of encounter. Even very static situations create perceptual illusions of development, producing prolonged and continuous experience. It could be how things change that creates the feeling of time. Perhaps all development is a matter of process, of activity, of change. We have difficulties apprehending what we are but little difficulty experiencing what we do. This behaviour based view is an important aspect of the album that explores previously experienced musical situations, different points of contact, paths through musical material.
Icelandic Composer / Sound artist. Released numerous LP´s, EP´s, compilation tracks and reworks on labels like Vertical Form, Thule, Uni:form, Spezial Material, Trachanik, Lamadameaveclechien, Shipwrec and 3LEAVES.
Perfomed his music in concerts and festivals in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Switzerland, Ireland and Iceland. Collections of his solo works can be found on the CD “Safn 2006-2009”, released by the Belgium label LMALC in 2010 and on his most recent "Processes & Potentials" released by 3LEAVES in 2013.
Concerned with process-based ideas. Sounds focusing on internal activity and motion. Compositions that put into foreground behaviors, actions, fluid sound structures, fuzzy materials or forms. Music without sharp boundaries.
Interested in exploring the contact between composed computer sound structures and space. Has presented/worked in various spatial configurations such as at the WFS system in Leiden (192 speakers), the WFS system in Berlin (832 speakers), the BEAST system in Birmingham (up to 100 speakers), GRM Paris as well as recent 8 and 4 channel formations.
Faculty member at the Institute of Sonology, Royal Conservatory in The Hague and currently teacher of algorithmic composition and computer music. Studied composition with Gerard Pape, Trevor Wishart, Agostino Di Scipio and Curtis Roads at the CCMIX music center in Paris. Holds a masters degree from Sonology supervised by Paul Berg, Kees Tazelaar and Richard Barrett.
Currently working with algorithmic composition, generative environments, compositions and live electronics. Also working on new material with his long-lasting electronic music duo Einóma, and for MGBG, a duo of voice and electronics with Marie Guilleray.
- min volume
- max volume
“It’s about the journey, not the destination.” As I listen to the record, my mind drifts helplessly toward this cliché. I wince as I feel it happening. Yet perhaps thanks to the album title, my experience of Paths centres on this notion; the thrill of unforeseeable turns and ruptures in progress, embracing unexpected diversion as an essential and inevitable means of reaching an end objective. While the destination may reside at a fixed point in the future/distance, the path has the potential to be riddled with erratic chicanes and sudden obstacles. The album is pocketed with fierce shifts in state – explosions of change that sabotage the idle trundle of time, demolishing gentle blooms of sound to lay the atmosphere to waste all over again. Abstract sound design can be as much a process of destruction as assembly, and Paths manifests as a visceral embrace of this fact.
For an album released at the scorching peak of summer (in England, at least), this feels remarkably like a record built for winter. Many of Gunnarsson’s environments are ravaged by harsh blizzards and gale-force winds, blasting their way through passages of stillness like storms blowing windows open in a quiet room. Even the stretches of comparative calm are scenes of imbalance and imminent ruin; sine waves roll like marbles upon table-tops of low drone, while cogs whirr stiffly in the generation of hostile, intermittent jets of cyclically-powered feedback. “Pulsinato” sounds like a broken lightshow, with lighthouse beams painting the darkness with dim illuminations, and busted strobes shivering and waning into the sky. Noises burst into life after stretches of prolonged failure, while drones tilt in and out of microtonal alignment. “Verlat” scans between glutinous dead air, flailing sines and the purrs of alien transmission, with the hands of Gunnarsson flitting anxiously over the dials in restless, sonically nomadic lurches. Within each moment resides the instruments of its own oblivion, pressing against the loose screws of synth chassis and announcing themselves in throbs of electronic alarm. The path is never completely straight, and Gunnarsson uses every bend as an opportunity to smack me in the face, leaping out of the darkness just as I fall into lulls of faux-stillness, leaving me stinging and blinking in bewilderment as he heaves the music through episodes of guttural overhaul. A violently unpredictable record.
Of course I might be wrong, and I did hear of Bjarni Gunnarsson, but a quick survey of the old weeklies learned that this might be my first introduction to his work, despite having releases on Vertical Form, Thule, Uni:form, Spezial Material, Trachanik, Lamadameaveclechien, Shipwrec and 3LEAVES — and some of these labels actually make it to these pages. On 'Paths' we find five pieces, which originally were part of three multichannel pieces, but of course now turned into stereo. The title may refer to the routes the sounds travel to various speakers hanging in space. This is an area that is of much interest for Gunnarsson and he worked in various studios offering such sound surround speakers, including the WFS system in Berlin, which has 832 speakers. He studied with people like Trevor Wishart and Curtis Roads and teaches now in The Hague himself. The five pieces on this CD are quite vibrant pieces of computer music with a very classical touch in terms of musique concrete. His pieces bounce up and down and go all over the place, and one never recognize any of the original sound input. I am sure all of the classical tools are used, such as max/msp or Ina/Grm tools to transform these sounds ad infinitum. It's easy to see how this would work if it would be played on more speakers; leaping up and down, side ways and spinning out of control, even when a piece is quiet, such as 'Pulsatiles'. This is not music to settle down with and keep quiet, but is quite a major tour de force, which needs quite a bit of volume for it's playback.(FdW)
With Paths, Bjarni Gunnarsson continues on an even pace of releasing an album every three years, collecting works that debuted in various festivals and installations. The new set is remarkably consistent, albeit difficult to predict; and that’s where the title comes into play.
The average music listener is accustomed to hearing songs that follow a specified pattern: for Top 40 music, various permutations of verse-chorus-bridge. Even in experimental music, form is typically easy to discern. Gunnarsson’s goal here is to explore other paths, to see where the music takes him instead of the other way around. Opora’s cover art, simple at first glance, becomes more complex when viewed as the map of a song or album. It doesn’t seem to make sense; but then it does. The same holds true for Gunnarsson’s music.
The first play is the most surprising, as the only constants are the slow, non-tempoed pace and the tonal cluster. Gunnarsson favors a mixture of low rumble and higher pitch, with granular textures and clouds of drone. And clearly – because this must happen in any piece – certain sections are louder than others. But the direction of each track – duration, amount of repetition, timing, stereo effect – is impossible to predict. This makes that very first spin a fascination. Fortunately, the complexity of these five pieces allows for a number of repeated plays before any familiarity sets in. This is where interpretation becomes a little dicey, because the path is now set in the listener’s mind. One knows exactly when to expect the high frequency, the low drone, the momentary silence, the drift from left speaker to right. The effect is akin to that of a physical path, which typically begins with a crunch through underbrush, a few trampled blades of grass, a footprint where rain can collect. As more people discover the path, it grows cleaner, more predictable, well-trodden, even paved.
Not that music like this will ever become popular; the tracks are too long for radio, the entry points too narrow. The music takes a while to comprehend, and even then, one wonders how much is composed and how much is the result of random interface, adopted into composition. Use whatever phrase you prefer: off the beaten path, blazes its own trail, the road less traveled. Gunnarsson’s paths are worth investigating for the sonic discoveries they reveal. (Richard Allen)
The first time I heard Bjarni Gunnarsson’s Icelandic composer and sound artist was under the moniker of Einóma with his releases in the English Vertical Form imprint and also for his albums that were released on Lamadameaveclechien and 3LEAVES. He also has published on Thule, Spezial Material and Shipwrec, among other labels.
He is a member of the faculty at the Institute of Sonology, Royal Conservatory of The Hague and currently professor of algorithmic composition and computer music.
Gunnarsson is interested in composed computer sound structures and space.
His works have been featured in several spatial configurations as at the WFS system in Leiden (192 speakers), the WFS system in Berlin (with 832 speakers), the BEAST system in Birmingham (up to 100 speakers) and the GRM in Paris, among other performances.
“Paths” is a five piece album of minimalist compositions that unfold in a space where the computer generated sounds shape microscopic and granular textures. Sometimes almost imperceptible, however, its depth allowed delve into disquieting and cold atmospheres. (Guillermo Escudero)
Le son du grisli
Le moins que l’on puisse dire (je pense) à propos de Bjarni Gunnarsson (live electronics, trois disques à son actif pour le moment) c’est qu’il sait travailler les sons. La preuve avec le CD Paths dont les figures sont composées d’aigus qui frétillent et de basses qui vous enveloppent plus que chaleureusement… mais est-ce suffisant?
Car si les sons rappellent (par exemple) ceux de Strotter Inst., les compositions du Suédois ne donnent pas dans le répétitif crescendo. Non, mais plutôt dans une abstraction à géométrie variable avec son lot d’élucubrations soniques, de percées lumineuses et de chausse-trappes sordides, jusqu’à ce que Gunnarsson nous plante là, en plein milieu d’une ambient à vous donner le tournis (et c’est ce qui arrive). Que faire d’autre si ce n’est entendre / regarder / profiter de ce que l’Islandais nous a préparé? Spatial et plus que spécial!
The tracks on this album are ‘reduced, combined and rearranged’ stereo versions of various multichannel compositions created for festivals in Reykjavík, The Hague and Paris. Which raises one question in particular: why not release a multichannel 5.1 version of these pieces too?
I understand this of course: stereo recording is still the main way to go for most listeners, but listening to this music I cannot stop thinking how devastating this must have sounded in multichannel surround.
But even ‘reduced’ to stereo versions, these pieces display a fascinating ‘spatial configuration’, ‘exploring the contact between composed computer sound structures and space’.
If you’re familiar with his previous albums Safn and Processed and Potentials you’ll know what to expect, but if you’re not you should be prepared for an immersive, highly energetic stream of electro-acoustic sounds: Bjarni Gunnarsson‘s trademark ‘sounds focussing on internal activity and motion. Compositions that put into foreground behaviors, actions, fluid sound structures, fuzzy materials or forms. Music without sharp boundaries’.
There are only few moments of rest (like in Pulsatiles) – most of the album is highly dynamic, like travelling at high speed. At véry high speed, not knowing what you might encounter the very next moment!
This album is definitely at its best when played at a high volume.
Apart from being a faculty member at the Institute of Sonology (The Hague) and teaching algorithmic compositions and computer music, Bjarni Gunnarsson is also known as one half of Einoma.
Wie Bjarni Gunnarssons Album »Processes & Potentials« erscheint auch »PATHS« nur in einer schön gestalteten kleinen CD-Auflage – gerade mal 100 Exemplare gibt es, ein echtes Sammlerstück also, was angesichts Gunnarssons Nähe zur Kunstszene durchaus schlüssig ist. Nachdem der Vorgänger vom ungarischen Label 3LEAVES veröffentlicht wurde, wird »PATHS« von Granny Records in Thessaloniki herausgebracht. Klar, nun erwartet man ohnehin nicht, dass Musik dieser Art ein großes Publikum anspricht und zum Bestseller avanciert, doch ist es selbst für Fans des Genres ein wenig bedauerlich, dass Gunnarssons musikalisches Schaffen zu einer derart marginalen Wahrnehmung verdammt wird.
Wie zuvor entstanden auch diese fünf Tracks im Rahmen mehrerer Soundinstallationen (Reykjavík, Den Haag, Paris), und obwohl sie aus jenen Multikanal-Klangkunst-Kontexten für die CD zu Stereoversionen verdichtet wurden, bildet »PATHS« in 53-minütiger Albumform ein vollkommen überzeugendes, feingliedriges Ambient/Noise-Epos. Dabei ist es weder das eine noch das andere, kann ebenso die Avantgardefraktion der Neuen (Computer-)Musik einnehmen wie Liebhaber von rigoroser Geräusch-Komposition und kunstvollem Ambient mit ausgefeilten Texturen. Absolute Empfehlung für jeden, der das Schaffen von Lawrence English, Ben Frost, Mika Vainio und Tim Hecker schätzt.
Ένας ισλανδός πειραματιστής ή sound artist, όπως γενικώς αποκαλούνται αυτού τού τύπου οι συνθέτες, ο Bjarni Gunnarsson (για τις κυκλοφορίες του ρίξτε μια ματιά εδώ… http://bjarnig.herokuapp.com/releases) έχει έτοιμο CD στην ελληνική αναλόγων ηχητικών ενδιαφερόντων εταιρεία Granny Records. Το άλμπουμ αποκαλείται “Paths” και είναι τυπωμένο σε 100 αριθμημένα αντίτυπα.
Ο Gunnarsson προτείνει στο “Paths” πέντε μεσαίας και μεγάλης διάρκειας tracks (σύνολο χρόνου περί τα 53 λεπτά), τα οποία, σε γενικές γραμμές, θα τα αποκαλούσαμε ambient. Στο πρώτο απ’ αυτά, το “Ubieties”, το περιβάλλον που αναπαρίσταται ή δημιουργείται έχει πολλά ηλεκτροστατικά χαρακτηριστικά, που πλουτίζονται στην πορεία από ποικίλων ειδών electro ερεθίσματα. Αν και οι στάθμες των θορύβων είναι μάλλον υψηλές, εντούτοις δεν απουσιάζουν και τα πιο χαμηλά περάσματα. Τούτο δε, σε συνδυασμό με τους ποικίλους χρωματισμούς (τα electro timbre δηλαδή), μετατρέπει το κομμάτι σε «περιπέτεια». Αυτή η γραμμή θα έλεγα πως παρατηρείται και στο επόμενο “Mecolico”, ενώ στο “Pulsatiles” που ακολουθεί η κατεύθυνση αλλάζει. Αισθητά. Εδώ υπάρχει ένα πιο αποφασιστικό «συνεχές», που ενίοτε παραπέμπει στο πειραματικό ηλεκτρονικό kraut. Εξαιρετικό κομμάτι, space θα έλεγα διαμόρφωσης. Στο 15λεπτο “Verlat”, που είναι και το μεγαλύτερο σε διάρκεια track του “Paths”, ο συνδυασμός εικονοκλαστικής «περιπέτειας» και ενός πιο κατανοητού αφηγήματος δίνει τρανό αποτέλεσμα, καθώς το κομμάτι πλέει μέσα σ’ έναν κοσμικό ωκεανό. Κι αυτό πολύ καλό!
Το άλμπουμ θα κλείσει με το σχεδόν 7λεπτο “Gallivant”, που ανασαίνει μέσα από σειρές βόμβων και χαμηλής έντασης ηλεκτροστατικών εφφέ, ορίζοντας ένα χώρο.