Life is full of choices – a million options streaming out of every single living breathing momentary junction. Proof that a vast series of ping ponging bounces in the universe have somehow inextricably led you to this tiny slither of the internet, on this page, reading this passage of text right now.
Having a deep interest in the music you like is again a unique story for all of us. It’s also natural to sometimes consider who made the music and the back story. Sometimes a little context can shed extra light and meaning on the work, and behind all this great music is real people. So, the very corner of Elaine Radigue’s kitchen where her mythic ARP 2500 sat, quite probably doubled as space where her children played or washing dried on occasion. John Cage may well have bought mushrooms on a stealthy trip to the supermarket as well as enthusiastically foraging for them. Even the pioneers do normal everyday stuff.
So touchingly, this is where Experimental Lineage shines a light over a concise 30 minutes of music. A fascinating and heartfelt grouping of the only two recorded pieces by Mireille Kyrou and a later companion piece by the amazing Vox Populi! which just happens to include her son Axel.
Mireille studied under Oliver Messiaen before joining the pivotal GRM musical research centre created by Pierre Schaeffer placing her at the very heart of the vibrant French avant garde, and the birthplace of musique concrète. However, she quit music to devote herself to motherhood and family life welcoming Ariel in 1962, and Axel in 1964.
Etude 1 opens out like a huge metallic shimmer that immediately belies the wonderfully original sound source of a comb and a feather. A sea of tumbling vibrations where time is amplified and magnified literally pulling the listener deep into the tape. The second half of the piece forms into a droning choir before a sea of Morse coding splinters branching out of the rising weirdness.
Film Musique is a soundtrack to an experimental film of which no information is known other than Mireille originally insisted the soundtrack wasn’t meant to be separated from the film. However, she did finally agree and it’s very much a seamless extension of Etude 1 over its pulsated 11-minute duration. Growing out of a fluttering chirping cloud, a propulsive bullet grows… only to cut abruptly like it’s mapping out space. A curving, harmonica like shadow floats by as more chirping sounds flood in before growing into a forest of bells. Quite how the music sits alongside the visuals, remains a mystery but the piece violently snakes between huge dynamic elbows and sinuous silence. An alien landscape described in otherworldly glyphs that’s made all the more engrossing by the fact everything is thoughtfully placed. Nothing here is by accident as much as nothing makes sense. Totally wonderful stuff.
Decades have elapsed in the split-second transition to the final track, Koro Wild by Vox Populi! building out of the very same fluttering cloud of his mother’s work. Slowly the underlining monolithic looping background gently drags the piece forward, as the bird like densities appear, rising like dawn sunbeams. Recorded over almost 15 years culminating in 2007, gathering field recordings from France, Japan and Burkina Faso, it’s a beautiful unhinged response to his mother’s work. And ultimately, in a move that’s both heart wrenching and heart-warming a piece Mireille loved and identified with so much, she insisted it was played at her funeral.
In many ways Mireille’s brief discography grows out of a similar school to that of her contemporaries. It’s a music that feels galaxies away from more normal forms, and it’s easy to almost forget the human touch anywhere in its complexity. A music that grows out of technology and science. But as Koro Wild fizzes off into silence, it’s hard not to feel the pull of a deeply personal space between a mother and a son. A hugely private dialogue gloriously and generously offered to anyone that cares to listen. Proof, in the midst of this huge weirdness is two people sharing a vocabulary, love and connections in abundance. A legacy in action…
Experimental Lineage is out now on nostalgie de la boue