Eliane Radigue - Trilogie de la mort
May 21, 2020 (updated May 25, 2020)
Can you feel the sweet warmth of nothingness?

Looking at the two very negative reviews for this album, I felt obliged to write a few lines about this transcendent work of art, masterpiece of one of the most respectable electronic and drone music pioneers. Justice must be done.

In 1985, Eliane Radigue, former student of Pierre Shaeffer and member of the GRM electroacoustic research centre, began work on a musical adaptation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thödol). The result, after three years of hard work, is the first track of the future "Trilogie de la Mort": the monolithic "Kyema", which is simply the most moving drone music I have ever listened to. A very static composition from the outset, may be "uninteresting" for some, but which quickly reveals itself as being constantly in motion, a movement that is simply extremely slow, very different from what our formatted ears are used to hearing. The layers of sound, the massive and warm tones, the thick and deep textures unfold slowly but with an uncommon precision, and with such subtlety that we often finds ourself amazed to wonder how long we have been soaking in such a modular bath. 30 minutes? 1 hour? 1 day? Halfway through, you can even hear a distant orchestral soundtrack resonating in the relaxing abyss of the moving drones, as if a symphony concert was being played several kilometres away. All along the journey, a familiar crackling sound accompanies us; a noise that is certainly a sign of the dizzying magnitude of the surrounding emptiness, but above all, a reassuring companion in this inner odyssey.

But "Kyema" isn't quite "La Trilogie de la Mort" yet. In 1989, Radigue's son dies. While in 1991, it is her Tibetan master of thought who succumbs. Radigue's work will continue until 1993, and this continuation was nourished by an abysmal feeling of loss, and by a terribly intimate introspective exploration. It is as if the composer had plunged microphones into the depths of her soul, which then captured all the emotional vibrations of her body. Everything is very organic, stifling, warm, enveloping... The ambiguity of the textures makes it possible to imagine the vertigo of the infinitely small as well as the infinitely large, with the sensation of seeing gigantic planets moving in the vacuum of space, and tutti quanti. The two compositions that came out of this very long and meticulous work are even more absolute than the perfect "Kyema": if you listen to "Kailasha", its continuous and inexorable pulsation, you will undoubtedly spend the most solitary and meditative hour of your life, especially in a period of lockdown. As for "Koumé", and its overwhelming vibration, its impenetrable rise in power, its dull intensity which threatens to let burst all the emotion hitherto held back by the languor of the ambient drones, which contains with great difficulty the arrival of a terrible disarticulated scream. But when the energy finally comes out... it is impossible to say whether it is a terribly powerful suffering or a triumphant joy. The only thing that matters is that it's a sublime moment, it fills all the space in my little room and explodes my body into billions of tiny vibrating particles.

It must be understood that if there is so much loneliness and mourning here, "La Trilogie de la Mort" is certainly not marked with the seal of depression. The meditation inspired by Tibetan philosophy intends to disregard such considerations in order to better sublimate these blue emotions into a pure beam of stellar energy. In a transcendental ray which, above all, is felt in the body rather than in the mind. It can be compared with La Monte Young's "Well Tuned Piano" in terms of minimalist music, except that "La Trilogie de la Mort" is not inked into the infinite and the eternal, but on the contrary presents a side of spirituality that is much more intimate, human and therefore more accessible. Having said that, I understand that this kind of album can be a bit annoying for some, it's true that you can get pissed off if you listen to the album without paying too much attention to it and doing something else at the same time. Because it's a music in which you have to know how to go deep down, patience and confidence allows you to discover a great richness, in the textures, in the slow continuous movement of the different sound layers, in the warmth of the background which mixes inconsolable pain and resignation, there are a lot of beautiful things to be found there, emotions that you wouldn't find in a faster and more conventional music.

Let yourself float in this ocean of drones, feel the vibrations throughout your body and enter into an alternative universe; at that moment, your room will seem different, the speed of your movements will seem different, your body will vibrate differently and then you will finally find the nirvana. And if you still think Eliane Radigue is "talentless", just watch this little documentary that might completely change your mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2U0q4lZiFg

Best tracks: "Kyema", "Kailasha", "Koumé".

Worst track: N/A
WhatTheFunk's Tags
May 21, 2020
Oh le top score ! Franchement tu m as fait découvrir un truc génial merci ! Brillante review, très très intéressant !
May 21, 2020
Haha drone music go eeeeeee
May 21, 2020
Negative reviews stay winning!
May 22, 2020
I'm so happy to see you reviewing this. I'm thinking of giving my two cents as well, it's an amazing record
May 22, 2020
@DoubleZ J'éspère que tu chroniqueras cet album dans ta série the history of albums ;-)
May 22, 2020
@Inglume It would be great if you review "L'Île Raisonnante". I saw your 98 for this album and I'd love to see what you have to say about it. Eliane Radigue needs more recognition on AOTY! :)
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