Archive for the 'French' Category

Lucien Bertolina – Aller Simple

Lucien Bertolina - Aller Simple LP front cover
Lucien Bertolina - Aller Simple LP spread
Lucien Bertolina - Aller Simple LP side A

French composer Lucien Bertolina, born 1946, was first an improvisor and trombone player before becoming one of the leading figures in electroacoustic music in the South of France when he co-founded the Marseilles electroacoustic music studio, or Groupe de Musique Expérimentale de Marseille, in 1969 with Jacques Diennet, George Boeuf and Michel Redolfi. Other musicians working at the studio have included Patrick Portella and Raphaël de Vivo. Also a film music composer, radiophonic artist and field recordist, Bertolina created an independent local radio in Marseilles named Radio Grenouille with a special focus on radiophonic art and field recordings.

First composed in 1982 for trombone and tape, Aller Simple was transcribed for cello and tape in 1985. The tape part consists of processed synthesizer, musique concrete sounds and found sounds including some conversation and train recordings. The music is a gorgeous, poetical travelogue retaining its mystery and impenetrability  throughout the piece. In Aller Simple, the acoustic instrument runs parallel to the tape and doesn’t interfere or take the lead, while Vorticosamente is more like a cello+electronics dialogue where tape parts underline the acoustic instrument or function as a counterpoint. Some of the tape music consists in pre-recorded cello parts.

01 Aller Simple (17:45)
02 Vorticosamente (15:40)

Norbert Bordetti, cello
Lucien Bertolina, electronics and tape

Total time 33:25
LP released by GMEM, ref. AL02, France, 1985

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Baobab issue #9 – Altagor

Baobab issue #9 – Altagor box front
Baobab issue #9 – Altagor back
Baobab issue #9 – Altagor box set
Baobab issue #9 – Altagor cassette side A

French proto-Lettrist poet Altagor (real name Jean Vernier, 1915-1992) used onomatopeia in his “Métapoésie” writings and an invented language in the “Parole transformelle” visual poetry. Also an instrument builder, he accompanied his poetry readings on the pantophone, a stringed, bowed instrument, and the plectrophone, played with a stick. For an introduction to the sound world of Altagor, please refer to the article and sound file on Continuo-docs.

This cassette is an overview of Altagor’s Métapoésie. The amateurish technical realization is probably the work of Altagor himself. It starts with a short excerpt from Simonia, a poem from the 1950s, supposedly longer than 10,000 verses. Simonia was the chthonian goddess Altagor invented during his frequent walks in Les Eparges forest in North-Eastern France. After a brief Plectrophone solo, Altagor then performs a choice of his Métapoésie poems with Plectrophone accompanyment.

[Thanks to Giuseppe for this rarity]

01 Simonia (2:13)
02 Plectrophone solo (:34)
03 Métapoésie I (12:50)
04 Métapoésie II (8:05)
05 Métapoésie III (4:06)
06 Métapoésie IV (7:50)
07 Métapoésie V (8:00)
08 Métapoésie VI (3:18)
09 Métapoésie VII (2:05)

Total time 49:00
Cassette released by Ed. Pubbliart, Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1981?

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Xavier Garcia – Re-Cycling Rectangle

Xavier Garcia - Re-Cycling Rectangle side B
Xavier Garcia - Re-Cycling Rectangle side A

In 1999, Rectangle label manager Quentin Rollet asked several composers to contribute remixes of the label’s past releases since 1996, to be issued in a series of 7-inch singles titled Re/Cycling Rectangle. Remixers included Erik M, Martin Tétreault, Andrew Sharpley and Wendy Gondeln, as well as French electroacoustic music composer Xavier Garcia, born  1959.

The superb opener Chef de Gare manages to blend atmospheric music with incendiary political rants by French film directors Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, interviewed by Thierry Jousse for a 3xLP issued by Rectangle in 1998. Also included are excerpts from Brigitte Fontaine et Areski’s legendary song “Lettre à Monsieur le Chef de gare de la Tour de Carol”, as well as astringent electric guitar solos, possibly by Noël Akchoté. You can listen to this wonderful track here. The other tracks are closer to turntablism and plunderphonics.

01 Chef De Gare (5:34)
02 Pohskorw (4:16)
03 Nimteuq (2:57)

Total time 12:47
7-inch released by Rectangle, ref. REC# RRXG2, France, 1999

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Brigitte Jardin & Claude Marbehant – Jeux de Sons et de Gestes

Jeux de Sons et de Gestes LP front cover
Jeux de Sons et de Gestes LP back cover
Jeux de Sons et de Gestes LP side A

French educator Brigitte Jardin and composer Claude Marbehant published a total of 5 LPs during the 1980s, all on Unidisc except this one. I posted their debut “A la découverte…” and their follow up “Atmosphères” back in 2010. For an introduction to their project, please refer to the first post.

“Jeux de Sons et de Gestes”, or Sound and Gesture Games, is composed of 2 suites of tiny electronic vignettes intended to inspire various games to children. The first section is Ronald et le Synthétiseur, or Ronald & the Synthesizer, where the keyboard’s zany sounds suggest body movements to the kids. In the exquisite Grand Voyage des Petites Gouttes d’Eau, or The Little Raindrops’ Great Trip, the children are asked to imagine  the water cycle, from pouring rain to little stream to large river to ocean to evaporation and rain again. Helped by bass, flute and drums, the synthesizer suggests raindrops, river, waves.

Ronald et le Synthétiseur:
01 Allo ! (:39)
02 Jeu de l’Ascenseur | The Lift Game (2:11)
03 Proposition | Proposition (1:00)
04 Les Toboggans | Tobbogans (1:28)
05 Berceuse | Lullaby (1:29)
06 Devinette | Riddle (:52)
07 Animaux Animés | Stop Motion Animals (4:42)
08 Dialogue | Dialogue (:24)
09 Cache-cache Musical | Sonc Hide and Seek (2:56)

Le Grand Voyage des Petites Gouttes d’Eau:
10 Pluie de Sons | Sonic Shower (2:19)
11 Arc-en-ciel | Rainbow (1:41)
12 Au Fil de l’Eau | Moving Downstream (1:30)
13 Parcours | The Stream (1:53)
14 Petit Ruisseau Deviendra Grand | From a Stream to a River (1:50)
15 Sous La Mer | Under the Sea (1:42)
16 Les Dauphins | Dolphins (1:53)
17 Evaporation et Tout Recommence | Evaporation (4:25)

Total time 33:00
LP released by Fernand Nathan, France, 1980

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Guy Bezançon – Periplos

Guy Bezançon – Periplos LP front cover
Guy Bezançon – Periplos LP back cover
Guy Bezançon – Periplos LP side A

Guy Bezançon, born around 1935-1940, graduated from a Paris art school and became a painter and educator during the 1960s. At the same time, he practiced as a church organist, performing his own contemporary music compositions, sometimes augmented with electroacoustic tape or electronic. In the 1970s, he composed film and stage music, exhibition soundtracks and radio plays, as well as being the titular organist at St Roch church in Paris. Bezançon pioneered the concept of church organ+electroacoustic music during a performance in 1967 (Lagny church, France). See official website for more info.

This library music LP was released in the fairly experimental Sysmo collection published by Parisian recording studio of the same name, of which I posted the Michel Deneuve LP a while ago. The electronic tracks collected on Periplos are minimalist synthesizer compositions intended for film or stage music. Rather impressive and scary, these tracks recall the Blade Runner soundtrack as well as some of Dave Vorhaus solo efforts. Indeed, Periplos sounds very KPM-ish to these ears. The LP ends with a handful of powerful organ tracks recorded on Bezançon’s own, home-build church organ (see video demonstration).

30 tracks, from 17s to 4mns

Total time 47:00
LP released by Sysmo Record, Paris, France, 1985

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Guy Bezançon discography:
1973 Prémices, 7”, self-released
1974 Scènes de Don Juan (O. de Milosz poems), w/ various readers, LP, Disques Adès
1979 Orgue, LP, Saravah
1981 Pâramitâ, LP, Saravah
1985 Periplos, LP,    Sysmo Records
19xx Chant sidéral – Musique des Etoiles, CD
2007 Hymnes à Marie, w/ Laurent Terzieff, speaker, CD, Disques Dom
2008? Déo gratias, CD
2010 Men Zen, CD
2010 Organum Universalis, CD, Ready Made Music
2012 Le Cantique des Cantiques, w/ Michael Lonsdale, speaker, CD, Ulysse records

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Espace Fiction – Cinemasonor series #16

Espace Fiction LP front cover
Espace Fiction LP back cover
Espace Fiction LP side 1

Great science-fiction-themed library music LP by uncredited French composer, released in 1969 in the Cinemasonor library music series published by Véga records in France. Cinemasonor included several collections like “Bruits de la Vie” (everyday & household noises), “Bruits de la nature” (nature sounds), “Machines et Engins” (engine noises) or “Espace Fiction” (library music for films).

From the “Espace Fiction” series, this LP is a collection of radical electronic vignettes inspired by spacecraft launch sites, space station or interstellar travel. The music is based on highly abstract, metaphysical electronic sounds a la Pietro Grossi, where noisy sonorities distill a tangible feeling of fear and paranoia. Often extremely minimal and skeletal, some tracks also include radio static, machines noises, sound collage and sound treatment.

32 tracks, from 27s to 2mn24s

Total time 37:30

LP released by Véga, France, 1969

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Betsy Jolas – D’un Opéra de Voyage

Betsy Jolas - D'un Opéra de Voyage 7in front cover
Betsy Jolas - D'un Opéra de Voyage 7in back cover
Betsy Jolas - D'un Opéra de Voyage 7in side B

Born in 1926, French contemporary music composer Betsy Jolas was a Domaine Musical associate during the 1960s and her first compositions were interpreted by Boulez’s Orchestre du Domaine Musical – see official website–, yet she remained an independent composer and did not adhere strictly to the Serialist dogma. Recorded in 1969 by the Domaine Musical conducted by Gilbert Amy, this disc was Betsy Jolas’ first record release, published in the highly collectible Impact de la Musique Contemporaine collection of 7inch singles, appearing on Disques Adès between 1969 and 1974 (see gallery and discography here). Adès was Pierre Boulez’s record company during the 1960s and published his Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire LP in 1962 and the Marteau Sans Maître LP in 1964.

Composed for a small orchestra of 22 instruments, D’un Opéra de Voyage was premiered in 1967 at the Festival de Royan by the Orchestre du Domaine Musical conducted by Michael Gielen. It belongs to a series of orchestral and chamber music works Jolas calls “opera” (also including D’un opéra de Poupée en Sept Musiques and Frauenleben, both 1982) despite the absence of singer. The imaginative instrumentation of D’un Opéra de Voyage recalls the Stravinski of Renard or L’Histoire du Soldat, in part due to the use of isolated percussion and reeds, while hints of Klangfarbenmelodie point to the influence of Webern on mid-century European composers.

D’un Opéra De Voyage (side 1+2) (9:40)

7in single released by Disques Adès, France, between 1969 and 1974

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Jean Françaix – L’Insectarium

Jean Françaix - L'Insectarium 7in front cover
Jean Françaix - L'Insectarium 7in back cover
Jean Françaix - L'Insectarium 7in side 1

Composed in 1953, the short harpsichord cycle L’Insectarium (The Insectarium) by French composer Jean Françaix (1912–1997) was premiered in 1957 by the legendary harpsichord player Wanda Landowska. It is here interpreted by Marga Scheurich, a Johan Sebastian Bach specialist and member of Stuttgarter Collegium Instrumentale, and later Stuttgarter Kammermusikensemble and Stuttgarter Kammerorchester. German label Da Camera (founded 1962) published several harpsichord records with Scheurich in the 1960s, including  Pachelbel’s Hexachordum Apollinis 1699. Scheurich plays a German harpsichord with a specifically German Baroque sonority, not without its own charm, but not the kind of instrument one would expect in French harpsichord music. Anyway, her playing is lively and contrasted, as required by a colorful score inspired by the world of insects, as each part of L’Insectarium is named after, and inspired by, an insect.

01 La Scolopendre | The Scolopendra (1:03)
02 La Coccinelle | The Ladybird (2:46)
03 L’Argyronète | The Water Spider (1:52)
04 Les Talitres | Sand Hoppers (1:52)
05 Le Scarabée | The Stag Beetle (1:47)
06 Les Fourmis | Ants (1:13)

Marga Scheurich, harpsichord

Total time 10:30
7in single released by Da Camera, Germany, between 1962 and 1969

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