Herbal International

Bertrand Gauguet: acoustic and amplified alto saxophone

Before receiving the promo sheet I had already bathed twice in Shiro’s unpolluted waters. Perhaps influenced by the titles, my initial response was something around the lines of “this was probably recorded in a temple”. It’s not the case, but the quiet severity and the genuinely Zen attributes of this music are that persuasive. During a particular juncture I found myself sitting with the eyes naturally tending to closure, a sort of internal regrouping that developed autonomously as the sounds were flowing. No effort of excessive commitment to the act of listening was needed to join the vibrational current. It was just beautiful.

In two occasions, Gauguet employs a guitar amplifier (one of them – “Sabit” – results in the only relatively demanding segment, defined as it is by a substantial saturation). Elsewhere he produces feedback-grounded washes where adjacent partials generate superb aural luminescences; in that sense, the longest episode “Yügen” belongs to the “transcendental participation” category, provided that the mind is entirely delivered from thoughts of any kind. The whole album represents an authentication of the French reedist as one of the few rigorous researchers remained in an acoustic field characterized by extreme difficulty in coming out with something truly compelling. Simple ideas accompanied by profundity will always work wonders in this house, and Gauguet managed to let us reconsider values and methods that we believed archived forever in the “once-it-was-interesting-now-it’s-trite” section of our memory.

Let me suggest a double approach (headphone / speakers) to fully grasp the extent of this program. You need to hear the minute details to elaborate a correct idea of how the sonic propagations are born; on the other hand, pitches and harmonic derivations thereof need to fully resonate and hover around for a while, thus improving our transitoriness via the access to a further level of perception.

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