DAN WARBURTON – Life In The Greenhouse

Appel Music

In February and March 2007, an exhibition curated by Anthony Huberman at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo included an installation named “Music for Plants” – by Peter Coffin – which consisted in a greenhouse where a number of musicians – among them Noël Akchoté, Hervé Boghossian, Pierre-Yves Macé and Jean-François Pauvros – played a solo set in order to entertain both the visitors and the green bystanders. Dan Warburton entered the context armed exclusively with his violin, the result being what you hear in this, the initial release of Julien Skrobek’s imprint.

It is not the first time that an artist improvises in a gallery with people moving all over the place, and the suffocated whooshing of the large hall – which includes the chattering, the walking, the toddlers’ curiosity and most probably the distant echoes of the outside traffic – is already in itself a warmly cuddling, almost oneiric environment for the set, which essentially consists in Warburton playing a series of distinct episodes, characterized by dissimilar approaches to the instrument. The violin is exploited nervously or placidly, lyrically or percussively, very long notes versus ultra-rapid fusillades. No part of the instrument is left untouched, and the quality of the recording is good enough to reveal the different spots in which the capable hands of the manipulator try to do damage to (and with) that little box. On the other hand, there are instances in which Warburton concocts vibrant reels, sounding minimalist and Eastern European at once: picture Tony Conrad dressed like a Bulgarian folk dancer and moving semi-spastically, unable to remain fossilized on an acceptable modus operandi. Music made of instantaneous intuitions and tiny micro-events which, once put together, incarnate the meaning that each of us wants to visualize. Or maybe it’s just outstanding free improvisation, no labels attached.

The player himself can’t predict the outcome of the disquieting glissandos, plucked reflections and hyperbolic hurly-burly on his closest audience – the plants. When one listens to the microtonal ostinato around the 34th minute – the apparently invariable pitches actually shifting before the whole returns to the calmness of a trouble-free harmonic consecutiveness – we imagine that, after a tolerant acceptance of that undesired guest, the greenhouse is pervaded by a refreshing scent that might even correspond to a polite applause.

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