Pueblo Nuevo is a Chilean electronic music record label and netlabel founded in Santiago in 2005 by Mika Martini & Daniel Jeffs and now run by Gerardo Figueroa. In addition to new electronic and experimental music releases from various countries, Pueblo Nuevo also documents Chile’s academic electroacoustic music composers with a series of archive releases offering a fascinating overview of Chile’s avantgarde music scene. I picked up my favorite of these exceptional releases, some of them available for free download from Archive.org.
Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt (1925-2010) was a teacher, musicologist and contemporary music composer (the “Chilean Mozart” according to one article). In the 1970s, he started using electronic sounds, sometimes mixing it with real instruments, like in the electronic cantata Corvalán, 1973. The pure electronic works collected on this release are fairly minimal and reflective. The works on CD 1 for instance, dating from 1971-74, are made on the EMS Synthi 100 as a unique sound source. His work from the 1980s is more polyphonic, starting with the powerful Strukturen (1978-1980), with its Darmstadt and Ligeti reminiscences. More recent compositions since 2000 demonstrate Becerra-Schmidt’s skills in processed sounds, like the remarkable Poema for sampled percussion (2008), a haunting de-construction of drum sounds.
José Vicente Asuar, born 1933, is the other pioneer of Chilean electroacoustic music. Asuar has a fairly international profile and this 3xCD collection includes works created in studios located in Germany, France, the U.S. and Venezuela, where he set up an electroacoustic studio in Caracas in 1965. Asuar’s music reminds South America’s exotic birds, if you’ll pardon the cliché. His seductive compositions sound like blooming electronic offerings, deploying their inconceivable, plant-like ramifications in front of the bewildered listener.
50 años de música electroacústica en Chile
3xCD set released by Pueblo Nuevo in 2006
Curated by Federico Schumacher, this mammoth overview of Chilean electro-acoustic music between 1956 and 2006 covers the works of arch pioneers like León Schidlowsky (Nacimiento, 1956) or Spain-resident Gabriel Brnčić (the mesmerizing El Tunel, 1970, recommended) or Iván Pequeño (with the epic Ahora, 1974), as well as contemporary composers like Cristian Morales-Ossio, Cecilia García-Gracia, Federico Schumacher (with the mysterious, animist musique concrète of Estrellas Compactas, 2003, now included in a gorgeous new DVD, out July, 2011) or Alejandro Albornoz, among many others. Apart from a number of great electroacoustic music achievements, the compilation also testifies of an indigenous electronic music tradition whose characteristics would be: the recycling of vernacular roots – the Chilean equivalent of Brazil’s Antropofagia ; a unique sense of the tragic and metaphysical expressed by musical sounds ; an inspiration from Chilean poetry, literature and politics. It goes without saying that today’s composers use the same softwares and techniques as everywhere else on the planet, yet in most cases their voice remains original and irreductible to the electronica mainstream.
José Miguel Candela
Ciclo Salvador Allende
Streaming release on Pueblo Nuevo, 2009
It seems hard to eschew any political or tragic dimension in Chile’s music (the small village of Pueblo Nuevo was devastated by an earthquake in February 2010), and this special project by José Miguel Candela, born 1968, is a deliberate political stance towards Marxist president Allende, who ruled Chile until Pinochet’s coup in 1973. The founder of a rock group titled Cangrejo in 1992, Candela studied with Gustavo Becerra-Schmidt and later founded the International Electroacoustic Music Festival in Santiago de Chile. In the 2009 Ciclo Salvador Allende, the composer says he wanted to use ‘democratic’ instruments like guitar, flute or human voice, as well as archive political speeches and elaborated electroacoustic treatments. The result is a hybrid piece which revitalizes Allende’s political views thanks to a fantastic mix of the various sources where live performance and interactive systems each play a part. Stand out tracks for me are #6 Por Donde Pase and #3 Que Tarde.