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Fractal 002 - Friday, June 14th, 2002 - Website (USA)

It Was the Strangest Record I Had Ever Heard.

Igor Wakhevitch was an obscure French composer who apparently took pleasure in messing with peoples’ heads. He had studied with terry Riley, Olivier Messiaen and famed stage director Pierre Schaeffer, as well as having ties with the Soft Machine and Salvador Dali. He made six studio albums in the 70s, which might best be described as encapsulated chemical enhancements. I have no idea what kind of shit he was on, though I would say that his very odd mastery of noise, experimental classical and synthesizer technology was none too compromised by his mental state. Fractal records reissued all of his records as a box set in 1998, including 1971’s Docteur Faust, and I highly urge anyone with an interest in fringe music to give them a listen. For now, I’ll share the story of my first exposure to Wakhevitch’s world, via the turntable of a mystical shaman (aka heavy duty strange music collector) I know. See it as a window into wonderland, or cautionary tale.

What had I walked into? “I should tell you, I’m pretty fucked up,” he said, and the strange, warm look he gave ma told me more than I wanted to know about his current state. “What did you do?” I asked, ready to hear only a little of his messy private moments-- I wasn’t the kind to get way fucked up on anything. Of course, I was completely drunk at the time, and he had some pot in his loft, which I hadn’t touched yet. “Do you want some pot?” He was stalling. “Not yet, maybe later.” And then a bit of silence, as he just looked at me. He was definitely out there, and I knew he was a serious acidhead, though I thought he’d told me he’d given that stuff up because of some weird stomach problem he had. He gave me a look like your dog gives you when you shut the door in its face just as its ready to jump on your chest. “Hmmm, okay,” was the only response I got, and he turned around to face his turnable.

“So, I wanted to play this for you last time. I think you”ll like it.” We had a long history of trying to knock each other out with new music. He’d play me some obscure experimental band from France, and I’d play him my Smile boot (extra potent, as he’d heard virtually no Beach Boys); I’d play him Scott Walker. I know he must have thought I was a square, and I definitely thought he was strange, but I can’t lie: he exposed to me a lot of shit I would otherwise never have heard. However, I knew he was high as a fucking kite, and was fairly worried that this was about to turn into some never-ending jizz fest for him and his chemical brain.

“But I didn’t want to play this, because it’s so devastating.” Whatever, just put it on, and let’s get this over with. “What is it?” I asked him, but he was still turned around, intent on placing this thing on the turntable. “So, yeah, I did some acid about an hour ago, and this album always kills me like that.”
He put it on, turned around slowly, showed me the cover and I laughed in his face. This record, Docteur Faust, featured this incredibly stupid looking 60s cartoon version of Skeletor or something, surrounded by outreaching demon claws. This huge face stared right at me, red background and psychedelic medallion sun symbol overhead. It was in ‘stereo’. But I didn’t have time to actually turn my thoughts into an insult, because the music started, and for the first time that night, I was aware that dropping acid may have been a good idea. Something like a filter for this stuff, because it was in fact the strangest I have ever heard. And it went like this.

“Levez-vous,” boomed an announcer, along with some other French words that were indiscernable under the dense layers of echo. It was like a stadium proclamation, and this kid’s five-foot speakers did the voice considerable justice. And then someone started playing a very heavy beat, like the beats on the first Funkadelic record, but completely stoned out and with no regard for decent funk - it was moldy and decayed, with a tight snare, but the slowest tempo known to man, and the echo made it huge. There were things happening in the background, too, like what sounded of people screaming and guitars being torn apart. Every so often, a wah-wah would accentuate the slowness and the dense, whore-y mess of a beat. Was I still drunk? This was a very sick thrill, and watching my stellar pal, already completely lost, I knew I was in this alone. And they were still screaming.

Now, suddenly, a bass run and faster tempo completely changes the atmosphere. The drums aren’t playing hard beats, but tom-heavy free jazz fills, and the bass is doing its best to sound completely incompetent. Okay, so here’s where it becomes stoner music, right? The screeches return, and then a massive crescendo... to a full orchestra! What the fuck just happened? Violins jump out of both speakers, playing different runs, timpani pounds, trumpets soar overhead, and out of nowhere the whole piece becomes a hellish scherzo. It backs off, and comes back, like a tide of horror movie and avant-guard classical clichés. But then, the xylophone slams a furious run, as more trumpets scream overhead, and the strings cut through the omnipresent echo to become louder and louder and louder. My ears hurt, and I want to get up.

But then it all goes away. Soft choral voices chatter like a crowd of alien tourists around my slightly frazzled head. They pop and sway, and then whisper, as a triangle alarms in the distance. The timpani urges them on to strange medieval fanfares, and then the sopranos begin to carry a tune with bells, and a soloist begins to speak French about who knows what and the gong. The gong stops them, but you can still hear about a thousand bats deeply buried in the distance, crying. And the choir returns! They’ve chanting some strange Mass in unison, and the violins play tremolo unison lines to support them. The gong hits in between every line become increasingly louder. These people, they sound dead, or in a trance. And then the women begin a shrill cry that swoops down with an odd synthesizer and overhead I can see -- I mean, I can hear -- more strange synthesizers flying by. The entire group collapses into disgusting bass splatters.

The church bell signals what seems to be found sound of an actual Mass, but filtered through a god-awful flanger, and someone begins snapping wood in between every line. The snapping is quite violent, and becomes more frequent as this processed section of the Mass continues. I haven’t noticed this train moving from left to right to left, as it snuck up on me while I was paying attention to the Mass. And now there’s a terribly loud synthesizer motif repeating from the left speaker. And it becomes so loud as to drown out everything but what sounds like an electric saw in the right speaker. There’s also some kind of emergency alarm going off, and a trombone blasts bass notes like the mothership in Close Encounters. I can now hear someone speaking backwards, and the train suddenly blasts out of the right speaker.

At this point, a hard, doom-rock band starts in, like fucking Spinal Tap dropping “Stonehenge” right in the middle of the whole mess. Okay, some breathing room. They repeat some very standard 70s satanic riff-rock stuff, but also, someone hacks away on a snare drum on the far right. And they stop suddenly, giving way to a solo violin and light gong touch. The orchestra’s back. The brass plays a very mournful chord, and the solo cello announces new trouble at hand. The trumpet agrees, and the xylophone and cello begin to converse in some horribly muted language. The gong interrupts, and like a boxer’s jab, the entire orchestra returns with a furious, Varese-esque exposition. The percussion bullies the strings, which are by now content to lay low. The group makes one last stand, as the timpanis hammer the tempo. And suddenly it stops, and nothing remains.

This leads to another track, with a harpsichord introduction not unlike some of the more somber church hymns you may have heard. It gives way to cyclinal white-noise pulse, full of bass. A,d a lone flute begins one of the most hauntingly beautiful melodies I have ever heard. This is truly alien music, and that flute line, seemingly way off in the distance, cuts so easily through the tumbling wall of noise. It drops octaves, scatters beneath the wall, trills and returns effortlessly. If the record ended there, I’d have walked out of the room cleansed. But it doesn’t. A rude electric guitar announces a new harpsichord fanfare. The guitar plays a grungy riff, and the bass comes back, but only with flamenco-like percussion as timekeeper. It’s as if Neil Young suddenly became producer and xas vacationing in Madrid.

Naturally, a horse whinnies over and over again as the castanets play on and the harpsichord just starts pounding. I thought those things were supposed to be delicate, but maybe not. Just as it starts to get violent, South American percussion takes over, and a snare plays a very military figure. The guitars are now in both speakers, alternating noise and wah-wah riffs. The echo returns, and whatever link this has to straight up acid rock is broken by the primal shouts in the background and the general lack of order in the riffing. It becomes a guitar-caveman duet, and just as I start to think the record is falling off into a psych-haze, the synth noise starts to pick up. At that point, and the military snare returns. The toms blare, and the snare plays a repetitive figure. It has become a very loud percussion feature, and just as quickly stops. Nothing happens. That is the end of the record.

I sit still, and my friend says nothing. After a moment, I turn to him. He’s already smiling. “Wow, “ I mutter, and he knowingly shakes his head. I turn to face the turntable, a bit in awe of the machinery that brought that performance to me. I’m sure I must’ve gone over that last moment a hundred times in my mind, the initial numbness to feeling, and the gradual mystique I unraveled for days on the Internet looking for information about the album and the artist. It was the strangest record I had ever heard, and though I’ve had many chances since then to catch up with it, I think theres’s some value in preserving that first high. If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you might look around for it. Just be careful, and have fun.
Dominique Leone

Letter from Michael GIRA (Swans) - November 10, 1998

The most astonishing music I have heard in some years is the new Box Set of Igor Wakhévitch - 6 CDs, from 1970-79. Amazing approach to sound, from classical to experimental, psychadelia to film music. Ominous and beautiful, then clamorous and Wagnerian. At some points it sounds like contemporary electronic music, then shifts seemlessly into a full classical orchestra. You must buy this.

Audion - n°40 (page 7-8) - August 1998 (UK)

Donc... innovation !
An unclassifiable talent, Igor Wakhévitch could be seen as the French equivalent of someone like Ralph Lundsten, or an explorer like Franco Battiato, a pionner who proliferated in the 70’s with a series of highly original and unusual albums.

Igor Wakhévitch’s roots are obscure , though his name implies he is obviously of Russian ancestry, and apparently his father was a celebrated theatre set-designer. It was obviously in the setting of the theatre that Igor Wakhévitch saw new potentials in music. He was something of a genius as a young musician. By the age of 17 he had already won the first prize for piano at the Superior Conservatoire in Paris. But, not content to stay in the classical world, he moved on. His academic qualifications served him well. In 1968 he was working at the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (then directed by Pierre Schaeffer) with access to some of the most advanced studio equipment around. There he learnt his craft as a sound designer, as a master of studio trickery and musique-concrete techniques. The perfect foil for his own musical talents, and as a way to play with the possibilities of sound and other musical forms. This fertile environment, at studios that were regularly visited and/or used by the likes of Pierre Henry, François Bayle, Bernard Parmegiani, et al, was the ideal springboard for the creation of a new form of music.
Pierre Henry had already become celebrated for his works combining rock and electronics in the early part of the 60’s, and particularly his music for the avant-garde ballets of Maurice Béjart. Igor Wakhévitch saw this as his oeuvre, being fascinated by the new forms of psychedelic rock that were making shock-waves in France. With the moniker "Ballet for the 21st Century" he worked with Béjart in an attempt to turn this underground pop culture into high art. Inspiration came from Soft Machine and Pink Floyd, and in fact Igor Wakhévitch worked quite extensively with Robert Wyatt and Soft Machine for a while.
At this time, Igor Wakhévitch also worked together with Terry Riley learning special tricks about tape delays and looping techniques. All this experience melted into the pot of what became a unique music, with a focus that lay in processing instruments, usually in a melodic framework, blending in rock and diverse classical forms, bringing different unlikely musics together, often in most perplexingly odd ways. Igor Wakhévitch thus became established at Pathé Marconi Studios and also did production work for other studios and labels, and as a result got in touch with the French up-and-coming home-grown rock scene. The seeds were set for a radical and unique new form of music.

- Logos
With such a background, and a concept based on Greek legend, Logos "Rituel Sonore" amounted to a revolutionary creation for a 1970 release. Even if you know works like Pierre Henry’s The Green Queen, which was weirdly comprised of rock and avant-garde musics fused together, you’ll still be in for a surprise. Here we have a soprano singer, strange orchestral textures and percussives (drums, cymbals, gongs, etc.) blended with effects and processing. As the ominous percussion sets off with drum-rolls and ritualistic tension, the mood is of a looming anticipation of what is to come. here we go through phases of weird swirling effects, vivid reverb and atmosphere. The tension becomes overpowering, yet we are led on. Here we have the key to Igir Wakhévitch’s sound, in a tension that becomes awe-inspiring.
The climax of the whole opus comes with "Danse Sacrale" , an extraordinary psychedelic instrumental performed by Triangle (one of the earliest French psychedelic bands) that has to be heard to be believed. A great band in their early days, this goes to prove that Triangle were not just Pink Floyd cum Traffic copyists. This all amounts to a unique fusing of psychedelia and the avant-garde, and an awesome experience !

- Docteur Faust
This is the most obscure album of the lot. I’d never hit it before this release. Aptly in tune with the title, it is also one of the strangest. Docteur Faust was created for a festival in Avignon, and was later choreographed. Though, the mind boggles as to how anyone could dance to this. "Full of fury and energy" to quote a reviewer at the Avignon festival, it certainly is !
On one hands this is a more balanced blending of classical and dramatic musics, yet also it is much more extreme. There’s a wealth of sonic collage, dense musique-concrete, and bizarre musics that collide and fragment against rock structures. There’s also moments of pure classical avant-garde moving into ensemble pieces feeling like Henze meets Ligeti or Xenakis. The use of electronics is really vivid too. There are no rules or boundaries in what makes up a Wakhévitch composition ! The rock elements return throughout this album and, although not credited, I would guess that again Triangle members are featured. The guitar reminds of Alain Renaud, and percussion is quite distinctive, backed-up with weirdly treated organ. Although a short album, it is so engrossing and weird that it would be too-much if it were much longer.

- Hathor
Dating from 1973, shortly after working with Terry Riley on his Happy Ending soundtrack,
there’s an obvious big advance in Hathor "Lithurgie du Souffle Pour la Résurrection des Morts", with greater use of keyboards, synthesizers, and looping techniques. But Hathor is no mere synth album, far from it, but is Igor Wakhévitch’s most powerful opus. Making use of the Paris Opera choir (no-less), along with weirdly processed vocals, his usual off-the-wall electronics, and even drum/sequencer drives unprecedented in any form of music before this. It’s another sonic roller-coaster ride, in which we experience an ominous bellowing God-like voice heralding something visionary.
As with his previous albums, Hathor contains a number of separate tracks that continue or segue from each other, amounting to what feels like one work. Here, we have surging electronic and percussion drives, a climax sparked off by lightning, thunder-crashes, a wealth of weird contorted voices, and much much more. Here tension gives way to intense power resulting in a kind of dark Vangelis - on the edge ! With a weird Gothic choral number and another electronic rock opus to follow Hathor really flies ! Only the closing coda offers relief, with a reflection on obvious Terry Riley influences, and hinting at the albums to come.

- Les Fous d’Or
This is quite simply, the weirdest of the batch ! Scored for ballets by the much celebrated avant-garde choreographer Carolyn Carlson. A big step away from rock, this &çè( album is the challenching start to the second phase of Igor Wakhévitch’s career. A very avant-garde opera in parts, starting with a warbling soprano and cello, you’d never guess where this album is going to take you. Synthesizers (in looping patterns) take us close to the feel of Ralph Lundsten at this time, which is not so surprising as Ralph Lundsten had also worked with Carolyn Carlson. Tape collage is also used extensively, along with ritualistic horns (sounds like Jac Berrocal), waves of sonic slurry, and a total disregard for conventional musical continuity. Admittedly, it took a long while to really get into this one !

- Nagual
Although a concept in its own right, Nagual "Les Ailes de la Perception" (from 1977) again features music for a Carolyn Carlson ballet. Arguably, it’s the closest to Ralph Lundsten, as a largely cosmic work, with looping synthesizer patterns, putting melody against dissonance, moving on from the darker edge of the "new-age". The format is different to all the previous albums, in that this has 12 tracks (ranging from 30 seconds to 8 minutes) and features musics unheard of within the Wakhévitch oeuvre before, like piano works of a weirdly construed type (reminding of Ron Geesin) and what feels like a bizarre Celtic jig amongst them. The mood is generally mysterious and enigmatic, largely based around cycling patterns of keyboards and other instruments. The range is very diverse and surprising. But, having said that, typically Wakhévitch it is - as an uneasy balance that’s engrossing - still so enigmatic and fresh !

- Let's Start
This final album, from 1979, was created for the Batsheva Dance Company (for the festival of Jerusalem), and musically is the sum of many ideas from the two albums before, but in a more atmospheric framework. The grand opus here, the 21 minute "Let’s Start" itself, is a treat for those into the pioneering works of Terry Riley and Steve Reich in that this combines use of delay lines on keyboards a-la Riley with phasing techniques on voices first explored by Reich. Not really systems music though, as the development of the work is not predictable, even the ending is a surprise where confused phrases organise themselves into a logical sentence ! Extremely clever, indeed ! The remaining works are Igor Wakhévitch at his most restrained and subdued, largely synth/keyboard based, and feel more like a hybrid of Deuter and peter Michael Hamel, with a very film soundtrack type of feel.

As far as I gather Igor Wakhévitch sees Let’s Start as a return full circle to his roots, though such a progression or connection is hardly logical. There are characteristics and stylisms that one picks up on in Igor Wakhévitch music, but they are very hard to pin-down. Though I had heard rumour of other works, this seems to be his entire published oeuvre. It all amounts to a bizarre and fascinating trip with one of the true revolutionaries in new-music, and a definitive set collecting it all together. The set is presented in a small red box, including a poster (with the album sleeves) and a 24 page booklet (in French, with a number of pictures), along with the 6 individually sleeved CD’s. The original Igor Wakhévitch LP releases, despite being on major labels like EMI and Atlantic, are nowadays all pretty rare and collectable (most are reputedly worth £30+, with Docteur Faust reckoned to be worth £100).
Alan Freeman

Diapason - n°455 - Janvier 1999 (France)


Qui est donc cet Igor Wakhévitch dont on apprend qu'il n'est jamais là où on l'imagine, et qu'il croit en "des champs d’énergie propres à des plans de conscience et de lumière créative" ? Rester jeune visiblement le préoccupe, atteindre une Conscience Totale le fascine. Pour cela, if faudrait – parait-il – accélérer. En attendant, apprenti et éternel étudiant, il ne serait pas contre l'échange de la musique contre des légumes tout en voulant "transmettre quelque chose à partir d’un logos originel". Vaste programme. Destinée pour la plupart à des chorégraphies de Carolyn Carlson, Norbert Schmucki, Rina Schenfeld, indéniablement datée 70, sa musique séduit aujourd'hui par la richesse des couleurs, l'audace des moyens, la transversalité entre les genres. L'influence du rock, du jazz, de Pierre Henry, Stravinsky, Mozart, Berio, Cage ou Jimmy Hendrix s'y détecte sans trop de mal. Servi par de talentueux virtuoses, tout cela s’écoute avec un intérêt véritable , et souvent avec un plaisir intense, même si parfois manquent finesse et développement plus élaboré. Wakhévitch aime les grandes plages monochromes, les déchaînements percussifs, les improvisations savantes, les rythmes rock, les delays jadis à la mode, les lancinantes répétitions, les sons de clavecins baroques ou de pianos classicisants. Il manie avec aisance les choeurs et les voix solos, les cris et les chants d'oiseaux, les rires d'enfants et les phonèmes recomposés (époustouflante Eve Brenner !). Guimbarde, pluie, chien qui aboie, chevaux au galop et boîte à musique complètent le réservoir sonore dans lequel le compositeur puise sans hésitation aucune et plutôt avexc bonheur. Cela frôle souvent le kitsch mais atteint aussi des strates d’une belle noblesse. Très inégale à travers les six disques, cette musique foisonne d'idées, elle bouge, elle sonne admirablement, se situant quelque part entre le trop-plein de l'Occident pressé et le vide recherché de l'Orient réfléchi, en véritable témoin du temps qui passe.
Elisabeth Sikora

Le Monde de la Musique - n°229 - Février 1999 (France)

A la croisée du rock, de la musique improvisée et de l'électronique, les années soixante-dix ont suscité des vocations : que l'on songe à Christian Vander et Magma, Rick Wakeman et Yes, Klaus Schulze, Manuel Göttsching (Ash Ra Tempel) et Tangerine Dream, David Vorhaus, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Amon Düül 2 et Can ! Entre 1970 et 1979, Igor Wakhévitch – élève d'Olivier Messiaen, membre du GRM de l’ORTF en 1968 – a réalisé plusieurs partitions destinées principalement à des spectacles sur des chorégraphies de Norbert Schmucki, Carolyn Carlson et Rina Schenfeld à partir d’arguments de Jacques Breyer ou Dali (Etre Dieu, 1974) et dont découlent directement les musiques de Docteur Faust (1971), Les Fous d'Or (1975), Nagual (1977) et Let's Start (1979). Séparées de leur contexte, ces musiques apparaissent comme un film sans images ; ainsi l'accumulation de musique électronique (et l'emploie des synthétiseur dont, hélas ! les sons se banalisent vite), d'ondes Martenot, de voix anonymes, de quelques choeurs et d’instruments rock (guitares, batterie, percussion) dans Docteur Faust renvoie l'auditeur à un théâtre de l'étrange fondé sur un catalogue de sons hétéroclites, que l'on trouve également dans Les Fous d'Or et Nagual. Pour Hathor, "lithurgie du souffle pour la résurrection des morts" (1973), Igor Wakhévitch tente de créer une musique apocalyptique à grands renforts de voix torturées (au propre comme au figuré), d'orgue et de citations bibliques. Rétrospectivement, la réalisation dans son ensemble fait sourire, mais la puissance suggestive de certains passages est indéniable ("Amenthi", "Aurore"). Dans l'esprit de Terry Riley, le compositeur se révèle un pianiste accompli, notamment dans "Taddy's Dream" de Let's Start.
Frank Mallet

Halana - n°4 - May 1999 (USA)

donc... collects for the first time the six records that legendary French underground composer Igor Wakhévitch released in the seventies, providing a unique and valuable look at his singular body of work. A piano protege who studied with Olivier Messiaen in the late 6Os, Wakhévitch went on to join Pierre Schaeffer's seminal Groupes de Recherches Musicales and soon after began composing music for contemporary dance performances. In the early 70s, he met Terry Riley and Indian guru Pandit Pran Nath, soon after becoming Riley’s assistant and clearly absorbing his familiar musical approach. Over the course of the decade and the ensuing six albums, Wakhévitch undertook an impressive course of musical exploration and discovery, creating a music uniquely his own from the influences of his past, tempered by those he encountered along the way.
Releasing in 1970, Logos marks the beginning of the journey. Mixing floating, delay-thickened vocals, timpani and sparse strings with a bubbling soup of electronics and tape, it’s quite a powerful piece, building up a climate that is at once turbulent and dreamy, classical and modern, beautiful and frightening. Surprisingly, it eventually segues into some repetitive prog-esque grooves, courtesy of the band Triangle, before a short, dark, electronic epilogue closes the piece. It’s this mixing of styles that seems to be the hallmark of Wakhévitch’s works, and the skillful manner in which he is able to pull it off the key to its success.
Continuing the progression is Docteur Faust from 1971, which again presents adept pairings of potentially disparate elements. Sounding like a strict soundtrack for a staging of the Faust story, the music is a highly theatrical, event-driven collage of electronic and tape manipulations, dramatic narration, rockist interludes, musique concrete and passages of classical orchestration and vocals. It's a fascinating work that takes the skills he cultivated during his time with Schaeffer’s GRM and expands them into a more macroscopic view.
From 1973, Hathor is next, displaying a much more singular mind set than the others, focusing almost entirely on electronically generated sounds, live percussion and the voices of the Opera of Paris. The electronics at times verge on that of early techno - pilling rhythms on more syncopated rhythms - and the melancoly vocal compositions, enhanced by analog flutterings, are particularly striking, especially followingthe harder-edged, beat-oriented pieces.
Composed for the Carolyn Carlson Dance Theater in 1975, Les Fous d'Or shows Wakhévitch further focusing his interests, leaving the intricate sequencing and compositional techniques of his previous releases behind for a more linear, orderly approach. Each track takes on its own style – hypnotic, sonorous keyboard studies, spoken and plaintive vocal pieces and a spooky collage that is the record’s finale. Drawing from a palette of maniacal laughter, crying babies, aggressive thunderstorms and whining dogs, along with distant, squealing brass and his own narcotic electronics, this final piece is the real standout.
Nagual, released in 1977, features the now-familiar Wakhévitch amalgam of keyboards and electronics with live instruments and vocals, and once again, like Les Fous d'Or, was composed for a production choreographed by Carolyn Carlson. It’s a swirling, delay-heavy work, broken up by interludes of classically spare harpsichord/synthesizer and piano/synthesizer duets. Fitting solidly within the minimal continuum, Wakhévitch manages to add his own spin on the genre, concentrating to a greater degree on the use of electronic effects to not only shape, but also to create, his sounds.
Finally Let's Start, released in 1979 and composed for a work by Rina Schenfeld and The Batsheva Dance Company, displays Wakhévitch growing fascination with simple, repetitive figures - organ, voice, piano and mettallophone - and thick, swelling electronic drone. As an end point, at least as far as this collection is concerned, Let’s Start demonstrates quite a distance traveled from the musique concrete-inspired, densely-collaged beginning of Logos, a fascinating journey made accessible by the release of donc....
Chris Rice

Revue & Corrigée - n°41 - Septembre 1999 (France)

De 70 à 79, Igor Wakhévitch ose toutes les audaces, installe des passerelles entre les genres qui désormais font recette et, accessoirement enregistre de Logos à Let's Start, six disques (dont certains destinés à des chorégraphies de Carolyn Carlson), collector's aujourd’hui réédités sous forme d’un luxueux et bienvenu coffret. Compositeur virtuose et talentueux, Igor Wakhévitch a travaillé avec Olivier Messiaen et Pierre Schaeffer, croisé la route de Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, Maurice Béjart, Robert Wyatt, Terry Riley (dont il produit la B.O. du film de Joel Santoni, Les yeux fermés) et compose la musique de l'opéra de Dali, Etre Dieu . A l'écoute de Docteur Faust, Hathor, Les Fous d'Or, Nagual, les influences sont multiples : le rock d'Hendrix (joué par Triangle !), Luciano Berio (la voix d'Eve Brenner), l'électroacoustique de Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle, mais aussi Ligeti, Xenakis, Mozart et même la trompette de Berrocal sur "Ritual of the master of the doll" (thème qui ne manque d'évoquer 2001) à tel point que certains ont cru bon de remarquer le kitsch et la lourdeur symbolique de l'ensemble (on pourrait faire les mêmes reproches à Pierre Henry et francis Dhomont). En fait, Igor Wakhévitch serait plutôt un apprenti à l'atelier du son, restituant un peu de l'énergie cosmique dans un vaste mantra créatif fixant des temps musicaux particuliers comme autant de passages vers des mondes intérieurs où le temps et l'espace ne s'inscriraient plus dans une durée linéaire et horizontale mais dans des systèmes de conscience différents. La quête de Wakhévitch est celle de "l'identité dans la multiplicité, de l'unité dans la différence, de l’élasticité et de la fluidité" et ce n’est probablement pas un hasard si ses disques sont réedités par un label répondant au nom de Fractal et dont le souci semble être identique. Comme toute oeuvre d'art, donc... nous invite à éprouver notre relation au temps et à l'éternité, à tester autre chose que notre mémoire horizontale, à vivre la verticalité du temps et de l'espace, à passer de la durée extérieure profane à celle, sacrée, cherchant à nous sensibiliser à des vibrations où "le Verbe est à la fois son et couleur, lumière et forme, énergie et conscience, où le temps et l'espace ne sont plus des catégories sensorielles". Une oeuvre, dont les questionnements – sans réponse – liés au grand mystère qu’elle suscitera peut-être chez certains, s'inscrivent dans une filiation qui regroupe également, entre "l'Occident pressé et l'Orient réflechi" (pour reprendre l'expression d'Elisabeth Sikora), le Théatre de la Musique Eternelle de La Monte Young, celui des Mystères et des Orgies d'Hermann Nitsch et la magie de "I said, this is the son of nihilism" de Keiji Haino. Exactement là où donc... serait, à la fois, un mouvement et un repos.
Philippe Robert

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