EXPERIMENTAL ELECTRONIC MUSIC
Composer Douglas Bielmeier’s BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD is an enveloping musical work that soothingly twists time into a languid river of sound. Along these lines, BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD unfolds as one massive work that, though it may be marked in seven constituent sections, flows with very little delineation from one movement to another. This is not to say, however, that BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD is static or overly repetitive. Rather, Bielmeier’s creation simply exists on an atypically large scale, which demands the kind of gradual, almost furtive, evolution of musical ideas that characterizes this work.
BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD is an electronic composition, crafted meticulously to be performed, as it were, through the listener’s headphones or sound system. This format gives Bielmeier an opportunity to put his prodigious gifts as an audio engineer on display, and the tectonic scale of the work’s transformations makes it easy for his audience to soak up the intricate detail of his sonic design. One of the most impressive characteristics of BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD, and one that is relatively easy to identify and appreciate, is Bielmeier’s control of the stereo field, or the way he simulates space in distance in the production of the music. At any point in the piece, close your eyes listen to where the sounds are coming from. You should be able to hear ideas occurring all around you, moving left to right, getting closer and more present, and drifting off into the distance. The amount of skill, detail, and care Bielmeier dedicated to this aspect of the piece is palpable, and it lends BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD uncommon three-dimensionality.
Of course, the actual sounds Bielmeier uses to populate the piece are also effortlessly engaging. Because BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD focuses on concréte sounds, the listener will recognize sounds – such as church bells – among the vast array of processed and synthesized material that dominates the work. Although the language of the piece is, overall, rather abstract, the glacial pace of the music’s flow enables the listener to enter the world of every idea and become familiar with it, regardless of its quality. Combined with the potent use of space in Bielmeier’s production, these qualities make listening to BETTY AND THE SENSORY WORLD feel like the kind of true journey we so often seek from musical works, but so rarely find satisfactorily.