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Beatriz Ferreyra - Huellas Entreveradas Music Album Reviews

The Argentinian electroacoustic composer has been exploring hidden worlds of sound since the 1960s; these three pieces, all from the 21st century, showcase her playful side.

For years, only the most attentive of musique-concrete listeners might have come across Beatriz Ferreyra’s name tucked away on obscure compilations. The Argentinian composer worked closely with Groupe de Recherches Musicales founder Pierre Schaeffer and served as technician on some of his 1960s compositions, but it was only when Stephen O’Malley’s illuminating Recollection GRM label reissued selections from her archive in 2015 that Ferreyra’s sound world came into crystalline focus. The rediscovery placed her alongside other belatedly appreciated female electronic composers, including Delia Derbyshire, Laurie Spiegel, and fellow GRM alum Eliane Radigue, whose pioneering work was just as invigorating as that of their more famous male colleagues. Ferreyra, now 82, has maintained her singular vision well into the 21st century.
Huellas Entreveradas collects three distinct sound works created between 2001 and 2018. Much like her mentor Schaeffer, Ferreyra is an exhaustive explorer of the smallest of sounds, continually unveiling new worlds tucked inside the briefest of moments. In the previously unreleased 1978 piece “Echos,” recently issued by the Room40 label, she utilized her late niece’s breaths and murmurs to create a profound meditation on our mortality. Here, Ferreyra’s detailed approach takes a playful—but no less intimate—turn. Across the 11 minutes of “La Baballe du Chien-Chien à la Mé-Mère,” Ferreyra turns canine growls, the patter of slippered feet, and rubber-ball bounces into a surreal composition, zooming in like an electron microscope to reveal alien topographies in the most quotidian of noises. The title translates loosely as “Mommy’s Little Doggy’s Little Ball,” suggesting the loving gibberish that people use to communicate with their beloved pets. It’s a bewildering exercise in abstraction that’s also endearing and deeply strange, like watching someone hold a long conversation with their pet, then feed it a treat out of their own mouth.
The longest and the most recent piece here, “Huellas Entreveradas” (“Intertwined Footsteps”) takes cues from landmark works of her venerated former colleagues, like Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gesang Der Jünglinge” and Iannis Xenakis’ “Diamorphoses.” It’s crafted from voice, flute, and percussion, though she strips them of their timbral familiarity and makes them into raw, startling sound. Ferreyra juxtaposes an expert sense of craft with childlike wonder throughout; the high frequencies of the flute flutter and whip about the stereo field like sparrows, only to plunge the listener into cavernous, rumbling bass tones. For nearly 15 minutes, Ferreyra guides us from the upper stratosphere down into subterranean depths and back up again, a journey that she describes in the liner notes as being like a “hike through an unknown landscape.” At the 11-minute mark, when the sounds of traffic emerge, it gives the sensation of a long-traveled nature trail suddenly opening up onto a paved road.

A four-minute homage to her GRM colleague Bernard Parmegiani closes out the album. Playfully mis-translating the title of his 1977 opus Dedans Dehors (Inside Outside) as “Deux Dents Dehors” (roughly translating as “two buck teeth”), it’s about as close as high-minded electroacoustic music gets to the dizziness of a Saturday-morning cartoon. Snippets of a bright, chirpy voice and marimba (cue an animated galloping horse) get transubstantiated into more ethereal forms before toggling back toward the giddy and antic. Whether working on a scale immersive or succinct, Ferreyra’s philosophy utilizes her oblique source material to deliver a tangible emotional payoff.

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