Erik Satie Vexations
Un Théâtre Acoustique
Off - Record Label, Belgium
Digital Release: March 11th 2022
"As musicians with a classical background, we have dealt with Erik Satie’s music numerous times over the past years. Satie as an artist is iconic for many musicians today and is considered as one of the pioneers of minimalism, many see an ancestor of ambient music in his music. But this is just one side of Satie and as we started to think about our contribution to this project, we agreed that we would like to dedicate ourselves to other sides of Satie’s highly versatile personality. Satie is not only to be associated with minimalism, Satie is also to be associated with nightlife entertainment, absurdism, dadaism and satire. According to certain sources, Satie could have meant Vexations as an ironic comment to Richard Wagner’s music, or even as a parody of the meaningless virtuosity of the perpetuum mobile genre.
In our version of vexations, we chose to condense contradictory musical elements and styles and layer them into a dense musical collage held together by Satie’s repetitive musical phrases. We used elements of avant-garde, jazz, techno and electroacoustic music, sometime disassembling Satie’s original chords or re contextualising them into new harmonies. This resulted in a piece of extreme contrasts between extremely fragile lines - especially in the voice - and jarring accumulations of sound. To create a special atmosphere, the voice makes uses of breath as an important element of expression beneath digital sound processing. The violin sound runs through several analog and digital effect chains at the same time, which process the sound simultaneously in different ways and at the same time interact with each other. We also had the idea to integrate the bombastic language of Satie’s publications for the “Metropolitan Church of Art of Jesus the Conductor”, a one-man sect Satie had created, into the piece. Satie supposedly composed Vexations in the same period in which he created his one-man sect and we found quotes related to this one-man sect to be a necessary artistic paraphrase of Satie’s affinity for satire and absurdism."
Esther Kretzinger & Georges-E. Schneider