(Die Stadt)

In its perennially forward-looking history – which has by now surpassed the important mark of 100 releases – Die Stadt had never published something like this, a serious acousmatic work for electronics and transformed female voice (courtesy of Mary Costelloe) whose two conclusive parts were awarded the illustrious Magisterium Prize at the Bourge International Electro-Acoustic Music Competition. Irish composer Roger Doyle, of whom I like to remember the 5-CD “Babel” and the great “Oizzo No”, was also one of the contributors to the unmissable Fovea Hex trilogy. “The ninth set” is the third volume of the Passades series, the previous two having been released by BV Haast. It’s a rather overbearing piece, its overall character introducing dramatic states of tension especially exalted by breathtaking sections where continuous “walls” of sampled orchestral sounds and electronics generate a marvellous harmonic suspension. Camouflaged into that at first, Costelloe’s superimposed processed notes and shrieks come forth in the mix, only to be scientifically mutilated by a computer treatment which renders them similar to the request for help by a robotic creature who wants to become human. Indeed there are frequent occasions in which these fragments of unreal “singing” are perceived as a delicate kind of expression, alimented by the splendidly inscrutable backgrounds that Doyle managed to assemble. Absurd as it may sound, these are not the most evident constituents of parts 4 and 5 (the prize-winning ones) which, at least in my judgement, are a tad more predictable in their succession of contrasts and eventual recurrences, causing the music to lose just a modicum of steam in the last third of the opus. But a magnificent album it does remain, worthy of repeated attentive listens.