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Works » By Title » M » Maldoror (45:00)

Steve Godin

Maldoror is somewhat an instrumental sequel to Trust Me. But in comparison to Trust me, it is a darker ambience and has a sensorial experience that I feel is more apropos to the idea of “painting with sound”. The admiration I have received from listeners of the disc version, suggest that if you give it the right meditative attention, its sonic content provokes visual landscapes by the process of imaginative association.

Originally, I was intending to create something in the definition of concrete music that involved different analog synthesizers [1]. But, after reviewing the sessions, the duration of time and improvisation of the recordings seemed to suggest a broader ambient structure that could include an arrangement of percussive instruments [2].

Over a period of six months, I had listened to about four and a half hours of recordings on stereo cassettes, tape loops and two-track reels. Meticulously I edited and organized sections of these recordings onto a four-track cassette recorder in my home studio including a two-track reel of percussive instruments adapted with electronic effects. In another studio, the four track recordings and an additional synthesizer recording, were digitally transferred onto eight tracks with two 60minute ADAT tapes. My sound processing on the console included the idea of patching each track through an additional auxiliary effect, to provide myself with an optimum palette of wet and dry sounds. The final stereo mix of the two ADAT tapes was spliced together with computer audio software to make the master disc for a limited audiocassette issue. Recently, the recording has been re-mastered eliminating some bass frequencies that are present in this original mix.

Imaginative association as well helped to give this piece its title. When I was listening to the final mix, I was reading an english translation of Comte de Lautréamont’s Chants de Maldoror. In some sense, I felt that the tonal movements of the music corresponded with the literary passages. The following quote is from the jacket review of the Penguin Classics translation by Paul Knight, to which I feel it is apropos for the introduction of this sonic carriage by which one may feel like they are “travelling from uncharted and perilous wastelands, to reach the limits of the literature.”

1. I should indicate here for the electronic musician who might think that the instruments I used were of vintage quality. Other than a session with a Moog Prodigy, most of the keyboards that I used in the early eighties were commercial products that had their limits when it got down to the oscillators, envelopes and voices. Since then, I have stuck with two synthesizers. One is a monophonic Siel and a polyphonic Korg 800. Otherwise I have an arrangement of rack mount effects to create a palette of sound.

2. In general the selection of my percussions for this piece could be considered “found sound”, but they have been selected for the quality of resonation. Otherwise, there has been more constructed progression over the years and probably the most notable influence that motivated my progressive interest in this field would be the late Harry Partch and his instruments designs. Though I have limited space for his type of elaborate constructions, yet I have over the years maintained the idea of marrying the workbench with the tape recorder. Which is a creative notion that has brought together goat skin and recyclable materials such as used guitar and bass strings, metal pipes, glass jars, wine bottles, cardboard tubing, empty solvent cans, metal bristles, oven racks, metal lamp parts and wood; that are transformed into poly-chords, drums, gongs, chimes, kalimbas and a few xylophones. Most of these instruments are tuned to fixed scales of different timbres. The poly-chords have adjustable bridges for microtonal and harmonic chords. Otherwise, there has plenty of my own carpentry and metal working done towards making suspensions and resonators’.

  • Studio: Co-Produced with PRIM centre d'arts médiatiques Montréal 1997
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