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Gunner Moller PEDERSEN
A Sound Year

Recorded at Octopus Studio, Copenhagen, 1977-1982
Re-mixed at DIEM, Arhus, 1997-1999
Recording producer: Gunner Moller Pedersen
Sound engineer: Claus Pedersen
DACAPO 8.224174-79 [6CDs: 361.36]

A year in six hours - or twelve months in electronic music, as its composer calls it. This Wagnerian undertaking by Gunner Moller Pedersen is nothing less than the depiction, in electronic music, month by month, of the passage of a whole year.

In practical terms the piece is in quadraphonic sound. Pedersen calls his music "spatial" - multi-channel music with preferably four speakers, utilising reverberation and phasing to intensify the sense of space. Optimum listening conditions are therefore larger spaces - unsurprisingly A Sound Year has been performed in galleries and in concert halls and also shown on films and television.

And what of Pedersen's music? His muse certainly inclines to the gargantuan but this student of Per Norgard and Cornelius Cardew also has poetic and mathematical interests. Each month in music lasts almost exactly thirty minutes, each is prefaced with several lines of poetry - elliptical, tangential, spare - and in an hilariously unreadable programme note from 1977 we are told that a sound year "is a concept, an imaginary unit" and are treated to a paragraph about the oscillations of the universe.

January begins with electronic flurries of sound, percussive "incidents" which alert one to the pictorial element in this music. February, for example, seems to suggest ice melting, March's insistent "brass" plip plops to a thaw. May assumes a distinctly inter-Galactic hue, June embraces Schoenberg and July treats us to electronic stasis, an enervating languor. August - rather excitingly - bursts into storm and a shimmering rain before October's weird pulse beats, November's lashing wind and December's calm resolution end the year's journey.

Clearly there are elements here of abstraction and naturalism - fitting battle grounds in contemporary art where A Sound Year provides a soundtrack variously insistent and nondescript. Pedersen asks us to listen attentively or inattentively, consciously or unconsciously and that he hopes his music brings pleasure. In that his hopes are as modest as his music is long. But it is a good hope and others may well enjoy his year in sound rather more than I.

Jonathan Woolf

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