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CD Feature/ Claudio Parodi: "A Ritual which is Incomprehensible (To the Smile of Pauline Oliveros)"

img  Tobias
Despite an extensive essay in the liner notes to Claudio Parodi’s last album “Horizontal Mover”, it took me more than an hour to figure out how he had recorded it. Almost a year to the day since that promising debut hit the scene, the exact details have already escaped my memory, but it all had something to do with speaker constellations, algorithms and a lot of digital editing. And after perusing the booklet to “Ritual” for the third time in a row, I doubt this one will be any different.

For his tribute to Pauline Olivero’s felicitous stage presence (and not to the Deep Listening philosophy in general, as some seem to have perceived it), Parodi has again employed various techniques and layers of inspiration simultaneously. A translation of an Alvin Lucier interview into pitches (used to achieve continuity and inter-relatedness between albums) yielded a brittle score for two Turkish Clarinets, varying time values resulted in pleasantly unforeseeable melodic motion and chance operations returned unexpected harmonic frictions. Change seems to dominate, therefore, but the relationship between the instruments remains restricted by the continous half-tone-distance between them, which lends an immediately recognisable sound to all parts of this tryptich.

Extracts from Tiziano Milano’s “Suoni” are again embedded into the score as well – an element intended to continue as a sort of subtle Leitmotif throughout subsequent releases – while stero pannings and reverb modulations create a dynamic audio image best appreciated on headphones. After he has set his parameters, Parodi subsequently leaves the elements to themselves, creating a music which meditatively shifts between pure reed duo passages, mysterious and spatious electro-acoustic confluence and absolute silence. Thanks to the combination of complexity and consistency as well as to the polarity of a minimal instrumentation conducted by myriads of events pulling at the the course of the music each moment, the work achieves an intruiging hypnotic immersion.

But is this really only “a typical case of process-oriented art” as Piero Scaruffi put it in his thoroughly enjoyable and concise essay on Claudio Parodi? Is this nothing but music being conceived through ideas rather than creative imagination? While the two-page introduction to “A Ritual Which is Incomprehensible” might suggest so, however, there are enough personal revelations to disprove this theory. Parodi’s techniques hark back to Cage and serialism, but his approach obviously stems much more from the belly than the brain to warrant the inclusion into any kind of retro-movement. Instead, his playful operations take place in a fringe-area where indeterminate contemporary composition and methodical improvisation can no longer easily be separated.

Just like on “Horizontal Mover”, using someone else’s personality as a starting point has turned into a highly personal quest. This, of course, is nothing new in itself but the ambitious absoluteness of the music certainly implies that the method, providing both a lot of freedom and necessary limitations, may actually bring out the very best in Parodi rather than merely representing a sort of historical finger exercise: His projected series of seven musical dedications now seems set to turn into one of the most rewarding compositional projects of the nascent millenium – whether you understand the concepts behind them or not.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Claudio Parodi
Homepage: Extreme Music

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