January 12, 2021

 Wouldn’t you be slow too if you were layering hundreds upon hundreds of tracks on top of each other?  Histoires d’histoire is his latest.  You can hear samples of all the pieces here.  Wouldn’t you have to master what I can only imagine to be a huge learning curve to conquer, or at least tame the tech that allows you to create such massive monoliths of sound? I realize this release may be an odd one to start this series with but since I’ve been bingeing on Dolden’s music for the better part of 3 weeks now, this is where we begin. You can also hear two longer pieces in their entirety on Dolden’s Bandcamp page:

Mike Eisenberg One would certainly think you would need some musical chops to play this complex music, right? Jade Warrior’s Island label releases also give off a similar vibe. Electric guitars and keyboards (the Electro) stand proudly next to the army of flutes, brass, cello, choir, percussion, and trap sets (the Acoustic) to create a living, breathing beast of a thing.  On this album, Dolden is exploring musics multi-cultural qualities by creating a mishmosh of sounds and moods that are constantly morphing in and around, and back in again to each other.  This music definitely inhabits the “more is more” realm. Well, I’m going to have to take issue (with myself at least) because, as the good Captain Beefheart said, “Labels are for cans, man”. Wouldn’t the painstaking work of documenting this work with scores take awhile?  You can begin anywhere within this 80-minute album and the first thing you will probably notice (after your brain re-sets itself to assimilate the microtonal, odd tunings, and polyrhythms he liberally employs), is the sheer amount of detail in each piece.  I’ve heard and greatly enjoyed most of his material and I would feel comfortable in saying he’s a slow but extremely meticulous, exacting composer.  Without going into detail about each and every piece, the album is comprised of 3 long compositions. The work will pay off though, depending on your attentiveness and personal ear it may be sooner, or later, but it will pay off. Dolden has been composing and recording for well over 3 decades now but only has a surprisingly few releases that have made it out into the wild. The first 44-minute piece, “Music of another present era” is further subdivided into 5 shorter parts. AMN Reviews: Paul Dolden – Histoires d’histoire (2017; empreintes DIGITALes)

January 12, 2021January 12, 2021 ~ Mike

In my label introduction, I mentioned that the music on empreintes DIGITALes generally falls into the Acousmatic/Electro-Acoustic/musique concrete style. I’ve seen the term “maximalist” thrown around quite a bit when describing his work (labels/cans…I know).  None will get you close to the breadth, depth, and overall “bigness” of sound though. Yeah, this music takes work.  Biota/Mnemonists maybe for their recording techniques? When you’re living in Dolden’s world, the answers to all these rhetorical questions is, of course, a resounding YES? Paul Dolden’s 2017 mega-epic does not really fit the mold. Defending his work ethic aside, on to the music itself. Dolden’s sound is “unique” to say the least.  And why shouldn’t he be? As possible signposts, Dirk “Mont” Campbell’s Music from a Round Tower may point you in a similar direction.  Shouldn’t it take, like forever to compose, let alone arrange this exceedingly (to my ears) complex music?  

And what about the compositions themselves? Give this album a listen, and prepare to fractalize yourself.  Wouldn’t you want to take your time to get that mix just right so you can hear EVERYTHING that is going on within these layers?  Certainly, something that takes a myriad of listens to even begin to understand, if understanding it is indeed possible.  The remaining  2 pieces are shorter, clocking in at 18 minutes and 16 minutes respectively. I can’t really think of many composers working in this style.

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