Vicious piece of no-nonsense fucking process electronic music from Léo Dupleix…Two Compositions For Mixed Sources (ALBERTINE REC) is a creaky academic title hiding some pretty severe and hard-to-take sounds in a non-descript cover. A decoy if ever there was! Well, on the first of these two discs, we have various sorts of electronic drone and grunt, including one really piercing and shrill high tone that they use for torturing prisoners in fascist regimes, and which has been outlawed in most countries. The other sound is running water, always a good standby in this area. When composers want to refer to the real world, they reach for them old running water sounds, be it a river or stream, or even the ocean in some cases, depending on what sort of dramatic mood they wish to conjure. In the case of Dupleix, he wants the pastoral babbling brook effect (and let’s hope he packed a picnic with baguettes and pate for the occasion) to contrast with these evil flying saucer tones that are gradually taking over the civilised world at his behest. Later on we get a hotel lobby full of chattering types talking about something. Or maybe it’s captured from a conference on some learned subject. Everyone seems really polite. Which do you prefer, babbling brooks or babbling classes? Along the way to this civilised point we’ve endured the awful chirping crickets of bedlam, been abraded by the abstract white noise tones of abrasive sandpaper, and faced the void of unknowing thereby. Cissy old Pierre Henry wanted to take the listener on ‘Le Voyage’ in 1967 to attain spiritual knowledge of some sort, but this is the real deal…here we’re being forcefully taken on the last mile down the corridor, where the metaphysical guillotine awaits us. 32 minutes of existential abstract hell!
So that was BRUIT(s), described by Leo as a mix of “field recordings, white noises, sine waves.” Turns out it’s the first ever release on Albertine Rec. Further turns out he founded said label himself. It’s about limited editions, so these are CDRs. 27 copies only were pressed of the thing I now clasp in my mitts. Your man has ambition with this label. Three things are in his sights: (a) composition, (b) raw live recordings of improvised music and (c) what he calls the “in-betweens”. Challenging, radical, daring. You bet!
Well, better shove in disc two I guess. Aha, five tracks this time. Might be easier to digest than the first disc, but in fact that one was more episodic anyway. It was like six or seven suites all edited together in a jammy wodge of golden filth. This time he’s “playing” his own hardware – an open hard drive and its fan, recordings of same then subjected to digital processing. This is pretty much on Gregory Büttner’s turf now. What that German guy doesn’t know about playing small objects, especially electric fans, you could write on the back of a 50 Euro postage stamp. It’s about the beauty of process, the poetry of mechanical devices blindly whirring out their noise into an uncaring world. Who’s to say the humble electric fan is not actually a butterfly in disguise? And other such banal observations I would utter, if I was writing this review for Field And Stream or a BBC Nature magazine.
Léo Dupleix calls this Process #1: Changes. Accurate description. It’s one of the features of modernism that we made a break with “poetic” titles like The Lark Ascending, and instead insisted on hard material facts, so often a composition title is just describing the means of its own making, such as the famous avant-garde ceramic which was titled I Am A Pot. Has anything been sacrificed thereby? Well, I’m finding this Process#1 quite the mesmeriser, and through sheer persistence or something else, it is sublimating the materiality of that fan in short order. To be sure, some processing has been allowed to heavily disguise and mutate the sound on track two, so that it resembles a wonky helicopter from beyond the Eighth Dimension hovering in for a visit. But the core structure is still rotating blades. And it’s still beautiful on some level. Elsewhere on this disc, you’ll get long and testing grindy drone tones which rumble and whine in a most severe manner. That word again. Maybe Léo Dupleix is a severe man. Probably someone hard to please, if he was a tutor of modern music and you were in his class. He’s not always aiming for sublimation here, and while we can’t get away from the truth of that simple hard drive and fan, it’s still reaching into a new dimension of aesthetic pleasure. Tough minded, stolid process noise…it’s hard to beat, and less subtle than Büttner’s material which seems positively altruistic by comparison.
So your man was born in Paris. And heavens, can he really be that young? After a stint at the Conservatory in Brussels, he did the Japan thing. He’s played with some of the famous feedback and quiet tone musicians in that oriental locale, including Nakamura and Akiyama. Plus the wonderful Utah Kawasaki. And a bunch of other names I don’t recognise. But suffice to say he’s co-opted the flippin’ “Onkyo” style into his own pouch, and is reworking the fabric on his own terms, as it were cross-layering that single-minded approach to minimal improvised noise into the more classic French electro-acoustic compositional method. But even the latter has been examined, found wanting, and simplified to make sense for the brutal post-2010 years.
In all, I think this is a great set. Many thanks to Léo for sending this. It arrived 4th April 2016. Now for a full neck transplant to compensate. In the words of Plastique Bertrand, “la colle me manquera”.