Éliane Radigue as pictured on the cover of ‘Feedback Works 1969-1970’
In 1988, the electronic composer Éliane Radigue completed Kyema, Intermediate States, a sonic representation of the after-death state described in the Bardo Thödol (or Tibetan Book of the Dead). It became the first section of her three-part meditation on death, Trilogie de la Mort.
Radigue became a Buddhist (with, it’s said, a push from Terry Riley) in the mid-seventies, and Tibetan Buddhism is the subject of much of her subsequent work; she has, for example, composed music based on the life and songs of Milarepa.
Since every source I’ve consulted describes the trilogy as a response to the death of Radigue’s son, Yves Arman, to whom Kyema is dedicated, and to the death of one of her spiritual teachers, it’s worth pointing out that Kyema was completed and had already made its debut when Yves Arman died suddenly in a car crash the following year. Similarly, my powerful search engine only turns up bhikkus associated with Radigue (Pawo Rinpoche and Kunga Rinpoche, in their pertinent incarnations) who died in 1991. So I begin to doubt these deaths inspired the work in its initial stage.
A limited, numbered edition of Trilogie de la Mort came packaged in a skull sculpted by Radigue’s former husband, the artist Arman.
Continues after the jump…