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The pieces incorporate themes of nature and of the cycles of change, relying for their richness on the improvisational interplay of the musicians. The sound sources used range from traditionalJapanese instruments to MIDI keyboards, digital sampling and toy instruments . At the core of the nine tracks on Suspended in Amber is a deep stillness, a fluid line holding the pieces together even as their sonic intensity and dissonance threaten to overpower the listener. This is not “new age”or “ambient”music-it is, in fact, quitejarring at times-but it nevertheless evokes a sense of something eternal beneath cacophonous change. Peebles creates an ethereal, mystical atmosphere, evoking a world of drifting images. She derives inspiration in part fromJapanese folk themes (the track “Blue Moon Spirit” is titled after a painting based on a tale in which two blue “moons”represent the spirits of a woman and her lover) and from the sounds of her own North American environment (“theocean,”she writes about the track “Tomot?[revolving life],” “finds its parallel here in the Great Lakes [of North America]. Impermanence , infinity, the intangible, transition in time and space-all are embodied in the lingering tone of a bell”). Central to these works is the sound of the sh6-a Japanese instrument with a tone similar to an accordion, played here in a spacious, lulling manner. “Tomot?(revolving life)”creates a sense of continuity, moving from the sounds of flowing water to the songs of crickets and loons, frequently punctuated by the mournful sound of the stid In a wonderful display of improvisational skill, the sounds quickly transform, becoming harsh and angry as a swarm of insects andjust as quickly giving way to the soft chiming of bells. Sitting in my urban flat, surrounded by the tumult of civilization, I was concerned that the peacefulness of this music might be shattered by my surroundings ; fortunately, I was wrong. Outside sounds, in fact, became welcome additions to the sounds coming from the speakers-my windows shook and creaked as loons cried out; a passing car blared Mexican music as Buddhist chants wove a gentle, calming tapestry ; neighbors’voices came through the walls as flutes, drums and washes of electronic sounds appeared and dissolved into thin air. Maybe the greatest pleasure of listening to Susl,ended in Amber is in discovering the sense of balance pervading it. Never does it become dull, mushy or so soft that its meaning is lost. It does not assault the listener with grandiose ideas and self-indulgent technical prowess. Instead, it conveys a subtle sense of impermanence and of creative interplay of musicians whose level of sensitivity is uncommon in much contemporary expression. I BOOK I ELECTRIC SOUND: THE PMT AND PROMISE OF ELECTRONIC MUSIC byJoel Chadabe, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, U.S.A., 1997,370 pp. Paper, Illus. ISBN: 0-13-303231-0. Reviewed by Marc Battiq Ircam, 1 place Igor Stravinsky, Paris 75004,France. Email :; World Wide Web: cIittp://wiuw.> The list of informative books on electronic and computer music is surprisingly short for such an active field. Furthermore , most of the literature is oriented toward technical information and based on secondary research. This is why the lively new book byJoel Chadabe, Electric Sound, is an invaluable and unique contribution to the field of electronic music in general. Subtitled ThePast and Promise of ElectronicMusic, the book relies on primary research to deliver a comprehensive historical survey and paints a landscape of the wide variety of practice, experimentation and achievement in the field. The author devised a unique approach to writing this book: over the course of several years, he conducted more than 150 interviews with “composers , researchers and entrepreneurs.” This makes for a very engaging presentation in which it seems that the people who have made a contribution to the field talk directly to the reader. It also creates an inexhaustible resource for citations -a fact that will not escape the scrupulous attention of students, who will find first-hand intellectual food for the preparation of their theses here. All citations are dutifully referenced in an appendix to the book. Chadabe has also extracted numerous citations from sources other than...


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