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Inscapes from Exile

Label: Felmay/New Tone
Felmay Records, Torino, Italy

INSCAPES FROM EXILE is a concept album, an electronic composition inspired by the history, myths and legends of New Mexico. The pieces were composed in 1994-95 in Albuquerque and I perceived this two-year period as a double exile from her place of birth, Paris and her place of adoption, New York.

The music is drone based - a postminimalist starting point - but what makes it different is the microtonality of its electronic layers. Microtonality is defined as the use of any tuning/temperament other than the standard A=400/equal temperament. The synthesis process includes several types of unusual tunings, sometimes used in simultaneous layers. The textures can be complex. Again, like in TRONIK INVOLUTIONS, no sequencing takes place. Everything is played live, including the spinningly fast Barbie pieces. As a keyboardist, I focus, beyond synthesis, in the playing of the electronic sounds - in most programs used in this work, the amount of pressure applied on the keys triggers slightly different tonal colors - and I am playing the sound ‘from within’, letting it trigger an almost organic development of its own characteristics.

INSCAPES is not landscape music, it is rather a musical journey, a kind of electronic On the Road, but there is a sub-text: it is an existential journey more than a physical one, a exploration of inner more than outer reality. There are three levels of exploration: the physical experience of a place (passive), the mental experience a place (receptive), and the introspection triggered by the experience (active). This approach is expressed in the poem Three Red Dots (see booklet), preceding the last piece, Unknown Presence at the Mesa.

The first piece, Gusty Winds May Exist, is named after an oddly poetic road sign often seen on the highways. A long car ride through barren vistas is the unavoidable prelude to any experience in New Mexico. The focus is on the unseen. In the desert, or tundra, one is faced with an almost extra-terrestrial reality: the horizon displays itself so widely, opening to space and infinity, and there is a sense of unexplained presence, the nature of which can be left to the imagination - is it the memories of long lost civilizations or visitations of alien or spiritual origin?...

The journey starts with Roswell. Here the subtext is the familiar so-called Roswell incident. The story goes: a UFO crashed in Roswell along with its alien crew, and some of them of may have been alive - all of which was denied by the US army but the truth remains a mystery. This story triggers two movements: Changing Gravity, Clearly Identified Floating Objects.

The two ‘Barbie" pieces, Barbie’s Abduction and Barbie’s Fugue State express opposite viewpoints on alien abductions: one the one hand, some people believe they have had an abduction experience which feels real to them; on the other hand, there is a strong possibility that it is only a ‘fugue state’, an amnesiac state in which the person temporarily does not recall where they were, why, or who they are.

Ordinary Spatial Distance is about adjusting to ordinary reality. The next stop on the journey, entitled Quantesaurus, recalls a visit to the petroglyphs, or prehistoric stone carvings on deserted hilltops of black volcanic stone, which stand as witnesses of a lost world.

The journey continues through Hispanic pueblos - Lost in Los Lunas - two or three houses, and a restaurant, closed, with a sign on the door: Hot food on Tuesdays. Such sites bring a feeling of exile in space and time, as if one had suddenly and unwittingly been thrown into the past.

The song At The Sundown, in memory of Geronimo, was given to me by a Sioux soprano, Bonnie Jo Hunt, whom she met during sessions for the TBS documentary The Native Americans. The lyrics are an early 20th century translation of the folk song.

The Mesa piece was inspired by Chaco Canyon. Chaco Canyon in no tourist spot: you have to ride through 25 miles of dirt road before getting to the kivas and ruins of the ancient city, and at dusk it is particularly desolate. The site itself, a very wide canyon carved into red cliffs, is of incredible beauty. The whole experience is overwhelming.

I felt a strong empathy with the Anasazi or "Ancient People". Their presence exuded anger and sadness, a kind of continuous mourning for those who have gone - as there are no more descendants of the Anasazi. In the music, it is expressed by the ghostly flute solo created from a series of samples of traditional Indian flute, played by ceremonial artist Ron Sunsinger.

This piece was developed from The Kepler Matrix, a planet correspondence scheme inspired by the work of Kepler. Additional information on this matrix is on the conceptspage.

Copyright Elodie Lauten 2005

QUOTES

Expanded contrapuntal freedom, couched in unearthly timbres, creating a fluid feeling of stationary motion, hovering busily in space."
"If her ealier Tronik Involutions was mellow and smoothly postminimalist, this disc is screwed up to a higher lev el, sometimes bubbling over into contrapuntal randomness in an overflow of passion - or pain?
THE VILLAGE VOICE

Layers of melody, rhythm and color that are at once sophisticated and transparent. EXPOSE

Lauten was voted #1 keyboardist by internet poll (Green Dolphin, April 98).