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Best of 2020

Emmanuel Holterbach, Blutwurst

Ricercar nell’Ombra

Label: Another Timbre

Format: CD

Genre: Compositional

In stock

**In process of restock** Since early 1990s, the Lyon based composer, sound artist, and writer, Emmanuel Holterbach, has been issuing a slow trickle of beautiful efforts into the landscape of avant-garde and experimental sound. Predominately focused the discipline of musique concrete, his latest LP, Ricercar nell’Ombra, a collaboration with the Florentine ensemble, Blutwurst, takes both into incredible new realms. Issued by Another Timbre - belonging to their expansive dedication to cutting edge efforts of contemporary experimentalism - it’s a sprawling expanse of resonance, detail, and shifting tone, drawing the ear toward immersive and endlessly surprising depths that collapse the distinctions between acoustic sound and the ideas brought forth by electronics.  
Compared to many with an equal tenure on the scene, the discography if Emmanuel Holterbach is relatively discrete. This is likely due to fact that the majority of his efforts transpire within constrained spacial and temporal terms - electroacoustic compositions, performances, and installations, etc -  exploring the spontaneous musicality of specific natural phenomena. His work, broadly speaking, has attempted to renew the tradition of French musique concrète by expanding the parameters of its investigations - utilising sounds captured in natural and industrial environments, as well as self-conceived and constructed acoustic sound objects and machines. Given his long history, with the nature of his focus, a collaboration with Blutwurst, a Florence based ensemble conceived in 2011 by a group of musicians involved in radical improvisation and contemporary classical music, might seem surprising. Initially dedicated to graphic scored works by composers like John Cage, Christian Wolff, Morton Feldman, Cornelius Cardew, Alvin Lucier and La Monte Young, over recent years Blutwurst, currently comprised of Luisa Santacesaria (Harmonium), Marco Baldini (Trumpet), Daniela Fantechi (Accordion), Edoardo Ricci (Bass Clarinet), Maurizio Costantini (Double Bass), Michele Lanzini (Cello),  and Cristina Abati (Viola), has dedicated a great deal of work to contemporary electroacoustic works, leading them, following a fruitful meeting with Holterbach in 2018, to commission him for a work, ultimately becoming the sprawling, incredible 46 minute expanse that rests before us now.
Ricercar nell’Ombra (vuoto, energia, rilievo) draws on Emmanuel Holterbach’s long lasting interest in the history of Italian music, stretching from works of the  Reinassance as much as the efforts of 20th century artists like Giusto Pio, Walter Marchetti, Teresa Rampazzi. Based on the notes of the opening melody of Ricercar III by Francesco Guami - a 16th Century composer -  Holterbach applied methods developed in his electroacoustic compositions, structuring the work to deploy endless possibilities of combining the given notes into pitches, chords and patterns. In  Blutwurst’s deft hands, the result is a sprawling soundscape that rides the line between minimal and baroque. Vast acoustic resonances and tonal tension gives way to intimate detail, subtle shifts, and a deceptively simple elegance, all resting in a vast landscape of murky ambience. While appearing in very different aesthetic terms, Ricercar nell’Ombra (vuoto, energia, rilievo) represents another forward thinking entry into the creative landscape recently developed by Eliane Radigue - whose archives Holterbach curates and biography he wrote - bridging ideas cultivated over years spent working in electronic processes, spliced into acoustic instrumentation via intimate collaboration with ensembles and artists.

Stunning and forward from start to finish, Another Timbre’s beautiful release of Ricercar nell’Ombra rockets an all too overlooked composer into the front of our minds. As subtle and listenable as it is challenging and complex. We can’t recommend this one enough!
Cat. number: at151
Year: 2020
The brightness of the original melody gets disrupted, as if by effect of a diffraction, reaching other dark areas of the acoustic spectrum. Even through the more densely shaded areas, from the beginning to its reclosure, in Holterbach’s work there remains a pure and irrepressible yearning for existence, an impulse that really seems to transcend both its creative genesis and its execution. And it might be one of noblest outcomes a piece of music could aspire to.