Jean-Claude Éloy ‘Gaku-No-Michi’

Gaku-No-Michi LP front cover
Gaku-No-Michi LP back cover
Gaku-No-Michi side 1
Jean-Claude Eloy with Tsutomu Kojima

A Pierre Boulez pupil at Basel’s Music Academy between 1961-3, French composer Jean-Claude Éloy (b1938) also attended Henri Pousseur’s and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Darmstadt Summer courses between 1957 and ’61. At this point, his style was close to European Serialism of the period – e.g. Equivalence, 1963, see video below. He traveled extensively during the 1960s and ’70s, to North and South Americas, Europe and Asia, either as a teacher, performer or composer. After numerous trips to Asia, he started focusing more and more on time in music and especially the relation of timbre with time. Understandably, he moved from orchestral to electronic music to pursue this research, yet he never ceased composing for orchestra. Shanti, 1974, was his first electronic work, conceived at Stockhausen’s WDR Studio in Köln. In 1978, he started working with Iannis Xenakis at the latter’s CEMAMU studio in Paris. Gaku-No-Michi was recorded between 1977 and 1978 at Denshi Ongaku Studio, Tokyo, NHK’s electronic music studio. It was conceived as a quadraphonic work with sound engineer Tsutomu Kojima (pictured above with the composer), a technician who recorded many Japanese avantgarde and electronic artists. Photos from the NHK recording sessions can be found here.

♫ The complete Gaku-No-Michi cycle is 5 hours long – it was reduced to a mere 2 hours for this release. The cycle originally included long, interlude drone tracks called “sons de prolongations” (prolongation sounds), intended to put the listener in the appropriate psychological mood to appreciate the more substantial tracks. The last track here, #5 Han, is one of the few remaining “sons de prolongations”. The music of Gaku-No-Michi incorporates pure electronic sounds with radically processed musique concrète elements, generally to the point of defacement, as if to avoid any anecdotic reference. The project is thus to elaborate on a supposed Japanese attitude towards sound, while shying away from the picturesque – in track #1 Tokyo, someone asks: What is Japanese sound?. If your idea of Buddhism is quiet, sparse sounds, you’ll be shocked by the ultra-intense, massive, electronic overdubs on this disc. This is the Buddhism of Pachinko parlor machines, incessant traffic noise and electronic toys boutiques. Some of the sounds used include: Tokaido Shinkansen train’s whistle, Japan’s national anthem, Gagaku, Nô and Shomyo vocal interjections, Geta (wooden sandal) footsteps, temple bells, etc, all slowed down, filtered and processed in the studio. The pure electronic parts likens to Roland Kayn and Jack Tamul‘s own researches with protracted sounds.

01 Tokyo (29:15)
02 Fushiki-e (A) (28:54)
03 Fushiki-e (B) (29:44)
04 Kaiso – Réminiscence (17:38)
05 Kaiso – Han (11:48)

Total time 116mn 30s
LP released by Adès, ref.21.005, France, 1979

Download (265Mb)

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10 Responses to “Jean-Claude Éloy ‘Gaku-No-Michi’”

  1. 1 twinkle July 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

    This is so hauntingly beautiful. Headphones a must. Thank you. A revelation.

  2. 2 continuo July 5, 2010 at 9:00 am

    A demanding but rewarding work, IMO. Thanks for your comment.

  3. 3 g July 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

    i love this record. so good!

  4. 4 continuo July 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    You’re welcome.

  5. 5 twinkle July 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

    yes the more i listen to it, the more i love love love it

  6. 6 continuo July 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Ready for the 5 hours version, perhaps?

  7. 7 Marc Fontfreda July 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    I couldn´t agree more , this is top stuff. My first approach
    to the record was grace à Mr. Creel Pone´s reissue series, which
    featured this and the Shanti 2xLP´s. It seems
    most of his work will be given a proper reissue during 2010/2011. Some links to all things JCE.

  8. 8 continuo July 11, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Thanks for the info, Marc. Apparently, the reissue would be a 4CD-set, that is, the original 5 hours version, I guess. Which is a good idea, if we are to experience the total immersive Gaku No Michi project. My rip will be rendered totally useless, then, mere sound clips from a much longer composition. Wait and see…

  9. 9 Marc Fontfreda August 27, 2010 at 10:09 am

    4xcd reissue just out , available from Metamkine (€45+shipping, not bad at all)

  10. 10 Cordier Eric January 16, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Hello Guys,

    Yes there is the reissue on CD and more… there is gigs. Jean Claude since 5 years has meet the non academic french scene and several together we have help him to redo some gigs at the begining and since JCE publishes all his music. In these few years, he has played 3 time Gaku in Paris and France + Shanti a few years ago and recently in Germany. And the next gig will be Shanti in Paris in April 2013. We hope to find others date…
    And i tell you this because there is the same difference in between the Lp and the 4cd set than in between the Cds and the gig because the gigs is played on 8 tracks and on very high quality loudspeakers. So like this the drone are very deep, high freq fly in the air giving to the audience an experience that is never got at home… and the gigs are 2h or 5h non-stop.
    Can you imagine?

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