The best – and most original – work was the composer Mads Emil Dreyer's Miniature 3, where he has further developed his great interest in combining electronic and acoustic sounds. But the word combination is probably wrong in this context – because the goal is an independent sound, where it is difficult to determine whether the sound is electronic or acoustic. And it actually works – with the help of the small audio exciters, which are placed on the string instruments and the two glockenspiel. The small transducers transform the wooden surfaces of the instruments into tiny loudspeakers which transmit sine tones from small midi keyboards. The orchestra's two percussionists controlled this process with great attention, while the composer himself sat by a computer – presumably in order to make sure that the sine tones were sent to the right instruments. The compositional technique is a refined combination of very simple harmonies with intricate rhythmic shifts. The result is original, and a unique, beautiful timbre was created especially in the last movement of the 15-minute work. As if the difference between electronic and acoustic sound dissolved.
Mads Emil Dreyer set the stage with the piece Miniature 3, which combined airy electronic sounds with delicate bells, bright winds and airy strings to form timbral sculptures that settled in the room like an increasingly intense, dream-like blanket of sound.
A quiet triumph
Dreyer had limited his universe to the sine tone and its immediate instrumental neighbors such as the vibraphone and the harmonium. And the visual part of the concert was – in the form of light bulbs placed at regular intervals – equally muted. Although uncomplex, it proved very effective to link one light bulb to one note and thus make the sound visible, which I experienced in several places as truly synesthetic – one light bulb in particular appeared very 'dissonant' to me.In the last piece, Bølger, the yellow light bulbs were replaced by light on a large screen, so soft to begin with that it looked like ripples on the canvas, and soon after so hypnotizing that I did not look away until the concert was over.With stoic calm and composed patience, Dreyer could move from simple monophony over consonance to sharp dissonance without anyone noticing how, but it was especially the masterfully adjusted relationship between his auditory and visual expression that made his debut a triumph.
As is so often the case, though, the most telling performances were to be found in smaller-scale, chamber events. The most still and focused of them was Mads Emil Dreyer’s Vidder 1, receiving its first performance in Iceland by EKKI MINNA Duo. The sustained tones from accordion and cello sounded like achingly slow breathing, but with each inhalation merging into the following exhalation, and vice versa, resulting in something like an instrumental circular breathing. Slowly shifting and overlapping, always falling somewhere mysteriously between consonance and dissonance (at no point did it really feel like either), it was ravishingly beautiful.
The young composer Mads Emil Dreyer's new work Forsvindere 2 was so beautiful that a young woman two seats from me sobbed from beginning to end. It was the highlight of the evening as the bell-like percussion instruments created fragile patterns of tinkling sound that moved slowly around and into the depths.
This combination of electronic sound and image proved to me to be problematic. As a starting point, the image must be expected to relate to the sound. But which image naturally relates to a computer-generated/manipulated sound? The result, it turned out, easily ends up as an unfocused image game, which is more confusing than contributing to the overall experience. The premiere of composition student Mads Emil Dreyer's poetically alluring Bølger (2014) showed that it is not a priori impossible to solve the task. Here he succeeded in letting sound and image appear as two breathtaking sides of the same matter, two sides which in an exemplary way complemented each other in their infinitely slow controlled movement from darkness to light. In this pure movement, the same aesthetic of simple absolute musicality that the first works of the evening had implied was expressed by radically different means. https://seismograf.org/artikel/pulsar-festival-2014
Mads Emil Dreyer had two of his own pieces in the programme. He works with simple atmospheric development processes - he himself speaks of "musical spaces" - and here we got floating bright tones. In the work Lys 3, they were created with tiny cymbals, so-called crotales, which were stroked with a bow by Kalle Hakosalo, while Dreyer himself controlled the electronics from a laptop. 16 light bulbs in a row lit up synchronously with the different notes, so you could sit in the dark and watch the music move from something bright to something deeper. Unfortunately, it required a restart, but then the poetry appeared.
Mads Emil Dreyer‘s Forsvindere 2 for celesta, vibraphone, glockenspiel and crotale was the one piece in the concert to concede some slivers of humanity. Like a live-action music box performing a clockwork lullaby, the piece developed from simplicity and clarity to more complex counterpoint, in the process introducing ‘blooms’ of harmony which were impossible to tell where they were coming from or what was causing them. Here was music ostensibly designed to be beautiful, and its effect was hypnotising.
Both Mads Emil Dreyer’s Lys and Xavier Bonfill’s 28×28 integrated visual elements into their music. Dreyer’s work (Danish for light) for electric guitar and electronics lulled the room into a slowly pulsating ambient atmosphere conjured by a heavily reverberated and sustained guitar line, performed from the back of the hall by the composer himself. On the stage in front a dozen light bulbs were placed, which ebbed and flowed into light and gloom along with the swells of the background. A restful peak.
In any case, the distance and monotony feels very Copenhagen-like right here, but on the other hand it gives Mads Emil Dreyer's manifesto-like simple lullaby, Forsvindere 2 (2018), the opportunity to function as a welcoming contrast with its almost exotic, pure sweetness.