Bactérie: placid industrial ambient soundtrack for a tiny movie about tiny subjects

M.B., Bactérie, Taalem, mini-CD alm 34 (2006)

Rummaging through my music collection one day, I found I had a few tiny 3-inch CDs from the Paris-based label Taalem sitting in the corners and looking very forlorn so I thought it was time to give them a fresh airing. One of these is Maurizio Bianchi’s “Bactérie” release: a tiny soundtrack for an equally miniature movie – well, yes, I have seen movies smaller than 24 minutes! – about our tiny micro-organism friends, bacteria. I don’t worry about M.B.’s explanation of what the track’s intended to achieve: since lapsing back into a state of musical incommunicado in 2009, I doubt he can be all that bothered to explain the gobbledygook about profaning the rigid stoicism of Western education orthrodromy. Perhaps the mini-disc is all about what bacteria are presumed to be the masters of: pullulating at alarming rates to cover the entire planet with their numbers in a matter of months, or making our lives a misery with all the diseases and conditions they’re blamed with causing. Not to mention of course helping the big pharmaceutical companies a nice billion or two in pushing various anti-bacterial palliatives such as antibiotics that we humans don’t use properly so that while most of the little buggers are killed off, a few survive with strengthened resistance to get back down to the serious business of high-speed reproduction.

A stern, steely power with a forbidding, buzzing drone atmosphere, drawn-out metallic tone musings and industrial-factory effects and washes characterises the music. One might imagine a ghostly presence in parts of the music. I had initially imagined something more digital with teeny-tiny tone grit pieces starting small and minimal, gradually building up their numbers with the pace to match and then suddenly exploding and proliferating widely into chaotic sonic storms. M.B. seems sure of what he’s doing, steering his serene drone marathon with a firm hand on the tiller. About the 15th minute, a dense jackhammering effect answers my original question and satisfies my curiosity, albeit temporarily.

Overall this is a placid piece, not at all menacing and certainly giving no indication that within its boundaries there are breeding staphylococci and streptococci capable of denuding entire continents of their human plagues. I feel pretty safe with this mini-disc, having had it for several years and not turned a hair. Oh wait, maybe I am intended as an unwitting and naive carrier of ailments more unseen?

Contact: Taalem

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