Luc Ferrari Impro-Micro-Acoustique Review

Released 2004.  

BBC Review

Although initially forbidding, persistence gradually prompts this album to bear...

Colin Buttimer 2004

The most famous member of this trio must surely be Luc Ferrari due to his role as a co-architect of musique concrete. However, in this particular musical endeavour Ferrari is the junior asssociate as both his partners, guitarist Noel Akchote and percussionist Roland Auzet are relatively seasoned improvisers.

Impro-Micro-Acoustique begins in what initially sounds like fairly traditional free improv territory: the air is thin with insectile scratches, creaks and the occasional, markedly electronic sound. There's a scurrying and a pattering as of metal rodents, and something of the abruptness and whip-like tension of Noh theatre here, but overall these first minutes do little to differentiate the trio from a host of others steering through similar waters. There may even be a degree of discomfort, something like a minor panic: is this it? And if so, then what?

Although ridiculous, it's difficult to resist the suspicion that this initial passage is intended as some form of rite or litmus test to gauge the seriousness of the listener.

Fortunately the need to find an answer is voided by the musical equivalent of the sighting of a slender promontory of land: in this case clipped and sharply struck piano chords which impose a sense of meter and tension upon proceedings. This tentative rhythm coheres out of the trio's sonic mark-making, its fragmentary parts at times stretching apart, almost to breaking point.

Even so, Impro-Micro-Acoustique is certainly music which demands repeated listens and a certain amount of concentration to assimilate.

On "Sur Le Rhythme" Akchote creates a mutating, elastic rhythm on guitar which carries the spores of Derek Bailey's playing along with other less definable seeds. Combined with Auzet's clitter clatter, the effect is reminiscent of an imagined rain forest tribal dance. Halfway through, what appears to be a cheap children's toy repeatedly intones 'Hi, I'm C3PO. We're doomed'. "Sur Le Continu" is all slowly billowing nebulousness made from drones and echoing cymbals: try to touch it and it's gone, dissipated like morning mist. Gradually a storm builds up out of this fog and then it too dissolves.

The isolated clatter and scratch of "Sur Le Minimum" is held together by just the barest of halting piano and guitar notes repeated patiently and tenatively throughout its 10 minute duration.

Where Ferrari binds elements together on "Sur Le Contraste" with a piano figure, Akchote takes the rhythmic lead on guitar on "Sur La Pulsation". The result sounds like the spooked rind of a delta folk song. It's dramatically fragile, more pronouncedly rhythmic and spends its energy for the first four minutes in forward motion until exhaustion dissipates its momentum. Thereafter all three players appear to examine the fragments of the music they had previously created.

This deconstruction is a pleasure to behold, like watching a tapestry unravel. There's a significant amount of variation in this music. What particularly marks out Impro-Micro-Acoustique from similar enterprises is the group's willingness to engage in rhythmic and melodic exploration and to hold onto its tail to see where it goes. Although initially forbidding, persistence gradually prompts this album to bear bountiful fruit. Recommended.

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