issue 17 :: August 2010

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REVIEW: Moniek Darge

“Soundies (selected work 1980-2001)” CD [Kye]

Belgian composer/performer Moniek Darge has been part of the Logos Foundation since 1968, and most of her recorded output has been under the Logos Duo with Godfried-Willem Raes, but more works under her own name have been coming out on compilations and this, the first of two releases on Kye Records. An inventive, polyvalent artist, playing violin, tapes and electronics, making music boxes (more Surrealist art objects than actual “music boxes”) and field recordings, instrument builder, performance artist, and, and, and,...
Moniek Darge
As the title suggests, the seven tracks here span twenty years. None of them seem dated. All seven focus on a concrete use of instruments—Darge's strident violin, percussion, clarinet and voices—mixed with taped sounds—electronics, voice and animal sounds. Most of the pieces seem to be from live performances, further enhancing this direct, concrete quality, from the sparse Noh Theater-like percussion duo in “Sand” to the two vocalists who trade melodies on "Turning Wheel.” Each piece seems to be an adventure, but there are no liner notes, just a listing of titles and instrumentation. We are left wondering exactly what the “Turkish turtle” contributed on the 1999 piece “Verbondenheid”; we hear a lovely chorus of voices cooing and ahhing over faint street noises. And how did the “koala sounds" get taped for the 1983 piece “Fairy Tale?” But I enjoy these pieces none the less with my ignorance.
Moniek Darge
When Shawn McMillen first played me this CD, I was surprised that I had never heard of her before. But in fact, I just did not recognize her name. She was interviewed with Raes about their air-powered instruments in Musicworks 30, and she descibed three of her music boxes in Brandon LaBelle and Steve Roden's Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear book. Some whimsical videos of Darge describing/demonstrating these music boxes can be found on YouTube, taken from a 2004 CD-ROM.

review by Josh Ronsen

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