Natasha Barrett is one of the protagonists in the field of electroacoustic music today; as composer, performer and not lest researcher. With a doctoral degree form City University of London she was awarded a research scholarship from the Norwegian Council of Research in 1998, whereupon she took up a position at NOTAM (Norwegian Network for Technology, Acoustics and Music). She has since been based in Oslo where she currently works as freelance composer, performer and researcher.

In 2006 she was awarded the Nordic Council’s music prize, the Nordic Council prizes being the most prestigious awards in the cultural field in the Nordic region. In a congratulatory article by NOTAM Barrett was hailed for her impact on the electroacoustic field in Norway, her contribution to NOTAM specifically, as well as her standing in the field internationally.

Generally her project can be described in terms of an effort to probe beneath the perceptive surface of timbre to the organizing principles that structure the aural world. Her works have often focused on a semi-perceptual level, which is depicted in great detail, forcing the listener into a state of deep concentration which discloses what is already present in the individual listener as well as in the art work itself.

As such one can perhaps call it a kind of phenomenology, which is a philosophical school and a technique that strives towards the “things in themselves,” on a phenomenal level, i.e. the way they manifest prior to the compounding into higher-level entities that is a function of our metaphysical structuring of the world.

It has been a goal of her research in Norway to extend the tradition of composing by means, techniques and notions taken from the natural sciences. In these efforts she has been working within the acousmatic paradigm, which is a form of music presented through loudspeakers to an audience from an analog or digital tape-recording. This music may contain sounds that have recognizably musical sources, but may equally present recognizable sources that are beyond the bounds of traditional vocal and instrumental technology. Techniques of synthesis and sound processing are employed which may present us with sounds that are unfamiliar and that may defy clear source attribution. This form of music may present us with familiar musical events: chords, melodies and rhythms which are easily reconcilable with other forms of music, but may equally present us with events which cannot be classified within such a traditional taxonomy. (Definition from Wikipedia)

Barrett's concert works are frequently performed throughout the world. Her installations have been set-up in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Australia, and include a major work for the Norwegian state commission for art in public spaces. Most recently her worked featured as part of Oslo’s recently terminated Ultima Festival for Contemporary Music. With the experimental architecture group Ocean North she created “Barely Part 1:” a spatial sound and visual immersive installation on the threshold of perception.

Barrett's projects have received numerous recognitions, most notably with: Edvard Prize (2004, Norway), Noroit-Leonce Petitot (Arras, France, 2002 & 1998), Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Awards (France 2001, 1998 & 1995), IV CIMESP 2001, Concours Scrime, (France 2000), International Electroacoustic Creation Competition of Ciberart (Italy 2000), Concours Luigi Russolo (Italy 1995 & 1998), Prix Ars Electronica (Linz, Austria 1998), 9th International Rostrum for electoacoustic music (2002). In 2006 Barrett was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize.

“Trade Winds” is out now on Aurora records. From the press release:

Her new album consists on one work only: Trade Winds is a fantastic voyage, down the mythical and physical depths of the wide oceans. The work is thematically steered by the notion of unlashing the potential musical recordings from the 100-year-old sailing ship Dyrafjeld, and of the spoken narrative of an old Norwegian captain.

Natasha Barrett launches multiple narratives in parallel -lets them take turns, interrupt each other, unfold simultaneously, or twist backwards. Sounds emerge form the depths and sweep dramatically across the sound stage in an ever evolving dance of sonic patterns.sd
 
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