Pauline Oliveros

Reverberations: Tape & Electronic Music 1961-1970

By Glen HallA 12-CD set definitely constitutes an "immersive experience" with any artist's music. And Pauline Oliveros is well served by Important Records' retrospective of her unreleased earlier work, coinciding with her 80th birthday celebrations being held throughout 2012. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Oliveros approached electronic music composing as an improviser. Her tape pieces for Buchla synthesizer, and sometimes tape delay, sound in-the-moment, being realized in real-time by someone whose acute sensitivity to the qualities in sound allowed her to paint intricate pictures with sine tones and filters on the fly. Denser, her work at the University of Toronto's electronic music studio came from her immersion with its 12-tone generator system, which was cutting edge for its time. While some pieces may sound dated and a bit dry (i.e., reverb-less), this extensive audio document tracks an influential artist's creative output over a decade. It's a meditation on, and in, "deep listening," being sonically aware, attuned to the characteristics, movements, placement and relationships of sounds over time. Being entirely studio-centric solo work, the set omits two significant aspects of Oliveros's canon: site-based acoustics and improvisational collaborations with other artists. Oliveros won the John Cage prize this year and the music here shows why.
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