Breath is at the same time a bodily necessity and an expression of emotions, of desires, fears and disquitude, feelings that are often concealed under a blanket of words. For Czech composer Michal Rataj, breath represents the fantastic conjunction of gesture, rhythm and intonation. He writes about his latest electroacoustic composition “I’m more vain than the wind“: “It is all in my breath, that which I am not able to formulate properly with words, what my words just cannot make. It is as if I hope breath will carry my information further, safely, better. There is faith, hope, desire and sadness in a breath too…”. In another beautiful composition called “dreaming life” Michal based the piece on a recording of his sleeping daughter breathing at night. In his words: “I fetched a microphone, recorded the child’s breathing from very close up, and then worked with the sound as with a musical instrument, i.e. using resonance filters, I tuned it, and instrumented it in what was in practice a traditional manner. Whatever the combination the sound is used in, you can always feel that physiological rhythm of breathing in it, even despite the fact that the other (let us say harmonic parameters) of the sound have essentially vanished. And I chose this distant sense of breathing deliberately in the attempt to draw the listener away to places where reality and dream permeate each other, where we are not sure whether we are dreaming or awake… hence the title – dreaming life.” (taken from a very informative interview Michal gave to the czech music quarterly). All of his electroacoustic compositions bear an exquisite sensitivity for sound and its underlying musicality. Maybe it is because Michal is both a trained composer who frequently writes chamber and orchestra pieces and is at the same time an expert in computer based composing techniques, thus his works are always structurally and conceptually concise and focussed. In the context of electroacoustic music he offers a very personal approach of dealing with musique concrète not as some kind of pure abstract essence but giving the audience a certain narrativity. Semantic aspects of sounds are not completely abandoned but stylized and recontextualized, the original sounds stay clearly recongnizable and therefore the listener has the opportunity to conduct his or her own “reading” of Michals abstract sound stories and to step into ones own internal dialogue with his poetic creations.
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Fire and Frost Patternreleased at "Gruenrekorder"