Bernard Parmegiani

Les soleils de lîle de pâques

published in The Wire 418, London, 2018
La brûlure de mille soleils (1965)


Two films. Two soundtracks. Two Parmegianis. The Parmegiani we know is the seminal musique concrète artist of the GRM in Paris, and whose key works span the 70s and the 80s. For some, all musique concrète lacks dissimilarity: its techniques and tropes swoop and warble and slice and explode with predictable pseudo-orchestral gestures and sterile precision. But Parmegiani, I would argue, is the prime sonorific composer of the GRM. His work has always concentrated on malleable form, palpable texture and embodied resonance. In this sense, he deviates from the original acousmatic proclamations (disguising sonic origin) while extending their perceptual agenda (extolling sonic material). His 1975 opus De Natura Sonorum is the sound of this Parmegiani.

The other Parmegiani surfaces on this release of his rare soundtrack commissions. Two film sound scores for director Pierre Kast are compiled here. La brûlure de mille soleils (The Heat of a Thousand Suns, 1965) is a short sci-fi animation, employing largely still frames; thin sketchy Giacometti figures mingle with Tinguely robotics amid futuristic de Chirico landscapes. Parmegiani mostly provides spot SFX and atmospheres. They sound brutish and sketchy compared to the sono-symphonic collages he would create later. These tracks seem designed as aural backdrops to Kast’s somewhat ponderous voice-over narration. This release thankfully excludes that, but what remains is something devoid of shape and cursorily episodic. Most of the tracks are under a minute. They exhibit some spectral multi-harmonic layering through Parmegiani’s deft folding of sourced tones and processed atmospheres (combined with his inimitable signal sweeps through timbrel-shifting effects modules), but as soon as they start they are beckoned elsewhere.


Les soleils de lîle de pâques (1972)

Bernard Parmegiani (c.1974)

Text © Philip Brophy. Images © Bernard Parmegiani & Pierre Kast.