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    Luc Ferrari – Presque Rien

    July 17th, 2008

    Luc Ferrari - Presque Rien

    In 1958, Luc Ferrari helped Pierre Schaeffer found the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in Paris and was, throughout the ’60s, the first electro-acoustic composer to turn realistic recordings into “musical photography.” Composed for four magnetic tapes all playing simultaneously, “Music Promenade” (1969) is a fully confusing collage built on the sound of birds, mysterious rattlings, gongs, a sustained organ note, violin, echoing voices, military drums, sparsely thudding rhythms, voices, random snippets of folk-music, a Strauss waltz, voices laughing and arguing, bagpipes, percussion and much electronic chaos. “As the material on the tapes coincides and interacts, we have a successive telescoping of sound-images. If there is nevertheless a musical continuity in the result of these encounters, it is firstly because the elements recorded on the tapes have been carefully chosen, and, secondly, because they are usually repeated, so the general organization of the work corresponds to a principle of superimposed cycles.”

    “Presque Rien n1, Le Lever du Jour au Bord de la Mer” (1969) is a masterpiece of environmental electro-acoustic music, a “sound photograph” of a fishing village waking up early in the morning with dogs barking and chickens cackling in the distance, far-off voices, a vehicle engine starting, idling, revving up, etc. As the piece progresses, another really loud engine starts, revs up, and pulls away to the left—leaving a realm of subtle electronic sound sheets drifting around, along with cicadas chirping, more human voices, boats motoring to-and-fro, random knocking sounds, water gurgling and splashing, some really far-off background singing, with curtains of cicadas building louder and louder, “producing absolute repetitive music.” The extended, sustained environment of this 21-minute piece reinforces it’s black-and-white print properties quite nicely.

    “Presque Rien n2 Ainsi Continue la Nuit dans Me Tete Multiple” (1977) continues the “sound photograph” above but with more roving about of the microphone and some slight, hushed narration from the composer. Again, the cicadas and crickets chirp, cars roll off in the distance, a person walks by as waters gurgle and dogs bark far off somewhere. A big, scratching electronic sound slowly builds up while bird and frog sounds repeat in subtle rhythm over held keyboard notes and melodic flute lines. The sound of electronic birds and frogs then builds up, only to die down into another placid realm which is then startlingly interrupted by some super loud thunder and lightning, followed by a repeatedly slashing, pounding electronic “imitation” of thunder and lightning that is totally unforgettable.

    “Presque Rien Avec Filles” (1989) is another vast sound-area filled with simple drum thuds, shuddering electronic curtains, birds, random pops, electronically-transformed drum bursts, crickets, female voices whispering and bursts of drum, electronic and cymbal chaos exploding all over the background. “Like a thread, we find the charm of the female voice at some moment or other, in most of Luc Ferrari’s work for magnetic tape. With a lightness and delicacy worthy of Watteau, he pays a particular tribute to that charm in ‘Almost Nothing With Girls.’ After the successive images of a flurry of wings as a bird takes flight, the sound of the wind getting up and rustling the leaves and branches of the trees, our attention turns indiscreetly to the hushed confidences of the girls. The shifting sounds of surrounding nature are unusually highlighted by electronic touches, which, in this musical work for magnetic tape, play a role similar to that of the brush strokes a painter applies to his canvas as he follows his inspiration.”—Daniel Caux.

    Label: INA-GRM Catalog Number: INA C 2008 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 10 Total Time: 77:10 Country: France Released: 1995 Related Artists: Francois Bayle, Bernard Parmegiani, Pierre Schaeffer More: Electro CD, Forced Exposure, Official, Wikipedia