ERIC LA CASA & JEAN-LUC GUIONNET – Inscape. Lille-Flandres

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While I thoroughly admire La Casa and Guionnet’s attempt of rationalizing their research in the sector of location recording – they persevere with the detailed justifications in the liner notes of this superb CD – there’s nothing a man can do to get near the complexity and intensity of the sensations given by a definite acoustic incident, especially when unanticipated and/or materializing amidst a temporal reality completely extraneous to that of our own formation. In short, the inner reaction to a vibrational phenomenon cannot be expressed by words (which contradicts what this writer has been doing for almost 20 years now). Truth is always unforgiving.

So we’re left with the “listen in solitude” option and, if you’re sensible enough, different sorts of gratification will accompany the experience. Inscape. Lille-Flandres – the partial soundtrack of a site-specific event realized in 2004 for Lille’s Audioframes Festival – stands among the preeminent works in this area, the reasons being various. On the one hand the faultless displaying of every occurrence, according to a musical sense that becomes quite evident in the pulsating activity and structural diversity characterizing these 53 minutes. Not a mere accumulation of episodes, but a coherent statement designed to enhance the qualities of normal life that make sympathetic individuals quiver in front of apparently regular junctures. On the other, the composers’ talent in placing sudden openings of glowing harmony – resulting from the effect of the music that was surrounding the installation, captured by the mass of then-utilized microphones – in between the concrete aspects of the piece. All the more noteworthy, as demonstrated by the wish of avoiding what they call “grotesque manipulation” (namely, excess of processing: everything here sounds as natural as if you were looking outside your very window).

Every source is important, weighing the same in the album’s economy: disembodied voices from external speakers, echoes of trains from the nearby station, cars, pieces of furniture, muffled reverberations of uncertain origin. Familiarity and surprise are successfully matched in this great release, which should be used as a paradigm for this type of action: artistically consistent, musically significant, rich in emotional traits. A milestone of the genre, melting human, mechanical and environmental features in a single soul.

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