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Joseph Bertolozzi Employs Eiffel Tower as Musical Instrument

By Philip Trapp on Mar 17, 2016 06:48 PM EDT

Experimental composer Joseph Bertolozzi's latest offering, Tower Music / Musique de la Tour, uses only the sounds of the Eiffel Tower to create ten compellingly musical creations.

Issued on Innova Recordings, the instrumentalist uses percussion mallets to "play" the wrought iron monument in Paris, striking various of the tower's surfaces while recording, and then manipulating, the results. Per the release's one-sheet, the time-consuming project used no other instruments to achieve the sounds heard on the album:

"Never one to shy away from a compositional challenge, Bertolozzi undertook what became a twelve year odyssey to sample and write music using only the sounds of the Eiffel Tower. Without the aid of supplemental instruments or effects, he worked with the raw surfaces of this architectural landmark."

Those familiar with Bertolozzi's work will recall his penchant for adopting architecture as sole means of arrangement. The artist undertook a similar approach on Tower Music's musical and spiritual predecessor, 2009's Bridge Music (Delos Productions). As he explained to WNYC, New York's Mid-Hudson Bridge was the lone percussion instrument in that collection:

"We put contact microphones on the surfaces and I would hit [those] surfaces 3, 4, 5 times hard, then 4, 5 times medium, and 4, 5 times soft; and we did that with all the surfaces that we recorded and then I went back to the studio and it took me a couple of months to sift through those and pick, not only the best sounding ones but the most representative ones. So, we whittled down maybe 1,200 samples down to about 300 and used those sounds to compose Bridge Music."

Both Tower Music and Bridge Music are unlike most other experimental recordings released in recent memory. While on initial description, you may expect to hear merely field recordings or ambient sound pieces, the compositions presented by Bertolozzi come closer in texture to electronic music or even IDM. In this author's opinion, think less Philip Glass and more Autechre.

Below, take a look at a video promotion for Tower Music, displaying Bertolozzi's methods. Let us know what you think of the musician's work in the comments field below, we'd love to hear from you.

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TagsJoseph Bertolozzi, Eiffel Tower, Experimental Music