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Ventimiglia: A Descent Through Memory

Original field recording July 2013 Composition May-July 2014
Xaven Taner - All music

1 - Ventimiglia: A Descent Through Memory
2 - Ventimiglia (Raw Field Recording)

A companion piece to Presque Quelque Chose this composition is derived from a field recording made in the summer of 2013 during a visit to the medieval town of Ventimiglia on the French/Italian border. The location is of special significance as it was also the site of a composition by Luc Ferrari made in the early 1990s. For his Presque rien n°4, la remontée du village, Ferrari and his wife Brunhild ascended into the old town up the steep slope that leads up from the sea front. The geography and layout of the town with its winding alleyways which seem to twist and fold over one another provide an excellent source for field recordings particularly in the form of a derive. The composer of this material must however take the position of the dandy, plucking jewels of incidental sound out of the flux of life in order to return them to a new context and new meaning. My recording thus is not an ascent through the town but rather a descent beginning on the main Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, moving down through the quiet medieval architecture clinging to the hillside to the bustle on the edge of the modern town.

Like Ferrari’s Presque Rien the theme of memory and time play a prominent role and operate on a number of levels; there are the sounds of modern life echoing through the claustrophobic old alleys, the distant hum of the modern city set against the sound of footfalls on stonework hundreds of years old; there is also the memory of Ferrari’s piece and the attempt to hear the passage of twenty years between the recordings, maybe even to identify particular places or people. Finally there is the banality of the tourist visit which attempts to grasp the living history of a place, always destined to fail.