Review: Eliane Radigue – Transamorem Transmortem

Tying in nicely with a retrospective of her work over here in the UK, “Transamorem Transmortem” is a piece originally debuted in 1974, both as a sound installation and for conventional listening. It was written and performed before her initial contact with Tibetan Buddhism, but only just – as with all of her early synthesiser works, one can sense the music’s ties with contemplative stasis and meditation, even if Eliane herself was yet to be completely aware of them.

The piece has a subtle tonality – a ghostly presence that throbs and grows, gathering harmonics and ever solidifying – subtly contorting beneath the constant drone of high frequencies that hover in the foreground, just within the boundaries of perception. It’s immersive, but not in a spatial sense. “Transmorem Transamortem” journeys inwards rather than enveloping from the outside, choosing to fuse with the mind and soul – the receptacles of experience – instead of melting in the surrounding sonic landscape. It’s penetrative and direct, forming such intimate ties with the listener that it becomes difficult to think of the piece as an externally sourced synthesiser composition – “Transamorem Transmortem” appears to emanate from within. Beauty in the most primitive sense.