Anaïs Prosaic – Eliane Radigue

Anaïs Prosaic

DVD – La Huit / Potemkine – 2012, French, English
Virtuoso Listening is a film which turns out to be a homage to one of the female pioneers of electronic music: Eliane Radigue. Former wife of famous contemporary artist Arman, after their split she started composing avant-garde music (1967). In those early days she met minimalists like Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Steve Reich but she made around 20 of her own pieces working as assistant to musique concrète icon Pierre Henry after work hours, using the innovative ARP 2500 synth. This important initial period is discussed in a short interview, which includes quite a few photographs in black and white, showing her patiently working with such machines. Most of the film, however, documents the performance of her most recent pieces, performed at the Spitalfields Music Festival in London as a great homage to her whole body of work. Among the performers involved there’s the all-female laptop collective “The Lappetites” (Kaffe Matthews, Ryoko Akama, AGF) executing a performance of Elemental II. Unfortunately the majority of the footage focuses on contemporaneity, but it’s very nice to hear from her about what happened in the past, and to see her (she is in her eighties now) engaged and happy with a few skilful contemporary musicians, giving new life to her pieces. Radigue is almost obsessed by the machines, and her pieces are meant to influence the body and mind of the listener.