Sunday, October 16, 2011
Luc Ferrari - Son Memorise (2006)
Luc Ferrari is something of a legendary figure in the strnage world of Musique Concrete/sound collage. Few composers have devoted so much time and effort to creating sounds which 99% of the population would not consider to be actual music. Thankfully for the other 1%, however, he remained an unstoppable force of unique and interesting composition for half a century, right up until his death in 2005.
Like John Cage before him, Ferrari was able to hear the beauty in everyday environmental sounds, and this posthumous album puts this quality on display wonderfully. Here we are treated to three long pieces. The first of these is a continuation of Ferrari's "Presque Rien" series, in which environmental sounds are edited down and assembled in such a way as to almost form a loose narratives. Conversation snatches in French and Italian, animal noises and ambient sound blend together with the occasional rhythmic pattern to make a fascinating pastiche. Most of the time the edits are barely noticeable, but occasionally you can pick out repetitions and carefully constructed patterns indicative of the care taken by the composer.
The second piece is similar in nature, but longer and for me more engaging. It consists of a half hour of Ferrari strolling through a small town in Algeria, and the sheer variety of sound he captures is staggering. Bells, roosters, donkeys, locals singing, gun shots and many other exotic and beautiful noises forma rich tapestry of sound. This piece dates all the way back to 1978, but to me it sounds just as fresh and modern as anything else here. The final work abandons field recordings in favor of a more traditional example of Musique Concrete. It is well thought out and well constructed, but personally I prefer the field recordings for their magical ability to transport the listener to another time and place.
The only problem I have with this release is the bizarre approach to track indexing, in which each composition is broken up into seemingly arbitrary sections, but that's a very minor complaint given the quality of the music itself. Luc Ferrari is a definite must for those interested in electro-acoustic music, field recordings or Musique Concrete. And while the uninitiated will likely dismiss it is "just noise," those with an open mind and vivid imagination will find music like this refreshingly unique and beautifully evocative.