French composer Bernard Parmegiani died November 21, at 86. Born in 1927, he was one of the most important figures in 20th Century music, creating electronic and tape works such as 1964’s Violostries, 1970’s L’Œil écoute, 1971’s Chronos, 1975’s De Natura Sonorum, and many more. His music is highly abstract and yet strangely emotionally affecting, layering drones, skitters and squiggles reminiscent of small animals scampering around the sound field, and the occasional live instrument. He even composed a tango piece, Et Apres, performed on bandoneon, and a work for jazz quartet, JazzEx.
Composer JG Thirlwell (aka Foetus), on whose Facebook page we first saw the news of Parmegiani’s death, gave Burning Ambulance the following statement:
“Electroacoustic pioneer Bernard Parmegiani has left the planet. His pioneering work, along with the likes of Francois Bayle, still sounds astonishing and fresh today and inspires me endlessly, as a composer and sound manipulator. With his sonic cut-ups he turned ideas of composition upside down, while creating works that were visceral, exciting and disturbing. I was lucky enough to catch him performing live in 2008 at All Tomorrows Parties, working from a mixing desk in the center of the room with sounds spinning and ricocheting around the space.”
The bulk of Parmegiani’s discography was gathered into a 12CD box by the INA-GRM label in 2008. The physical version is out of print now, but it’s available digitally at a price that’s almost impossible to refuse. Get it from Amazon MP3 for $18.98.
Stream an excerpt from De Natura Sonorum below: