Emmanuel Petit: acoustic guitar, voice; Seijiro Murayama: voice; Yôko Higashi: diaphanous chanting; Olivier Capparos: piano; Isabelle Hureau: flute; Romain Bastard, Lionel Marchetti: church organs
If the natural endowment of an acousmatic composer is measurable by his/her ability of evoking arresting perceptions and creating imbalance in the head of an auditor, then we have to rate Lionel Marchetti highly. Madame Morte is a 44-minute piece containing an awful lot of contrasting sentiments, articulated along a narrative that by and large privileges a human component of alteration, primarily stated through an exhaustive processing of the voices, often transformed into noisy babbling or, in any case, reduced to a point of scarce recognizability. It also shows how setting up a concatenation of sonic circumstances does not necessarily imply the exercise of conventional sources and hoped-for choices (although normal instruments are employed as fortifying, if transitory constituents).
Beginning with several minutes of toneless clatter – presumptively some preparation on the guitar or the piano strings – the plot is cleverly distended by alternating sections outlined by semi-quiet materializations inside somewhat floating premises with sudden outbursts by anguishing/startling factors: hellish shrieks, massive organ chords, dramatic echoes of radiophonic collages under which sinister orchestrations and elements from the existent collide. In this score – as in the genre’s finest expressions – every single sound possesses the same value, resulting decisive in dimensioning the receiver’s psyche over the compositional itinerary. Trying to find out what makes the whole work in terms of sheer chronological succession of “acoustic facts” is next to hopeless. Still, a rational approach to the painstaking scrutiny of the reactions in front of what comes unannounced seems to lie at the basis of this crucial stage of Marchetti’s vocation. Then again, one’s got to love those foreboding organs and the vacillating choirs born from the layered-and-stretched tones of the composer’s partner Yôko Higashi.
An opus that requires total concentration, bearer of anxiety rather than composure but exactly for this reason sounding heartfelt and visceral in spite of the numerous hours of studio labor that were most definitely put in.