Erik Satie ‘7 Tableaux Phoniques’

LP front cover
Detail from inside cover
LP back cover

On ‘7 Tableaux Phoniques’, British improvisers usually associated with French label Nato offers a refreshing take on Erik Satie‘s music, free from the cliches usually associated with it. Their multi-faceted approach is indeed more exciting than truckloads of mellow piano music currently flooding the Satie market. The Tableaux Phoniques (Phonic Canvases) of the title  allude to Satie’s 3rd Furniture Music composition, titled Phonic Tiles (Carrelage Phonique).

Alan Hacker contributes a succession of 3 tracks, each focusing on one aspect of Satie. The first is an Ancient Greek melody, famous for its inclusion on the influential 1978 ‘Musique de la Grèce Antique’ LP by Gregorio Paniagua’s Atrium Musicae de Madrid (see video below). It’s sublime melody is beautifully interpreted here by Hacker on solo flute. His second track is a joyous Cabaret number in homage to Satie’s tenure at Le Chat Noir and other Parisian cabarets. His third offering is a British gamelan orchestra, as Satie, like Debussy, was fascinated by the gamelan instruments and music exhibited at the 1889 Paris World Fair, the actual birth of Ambient Music, according to David Toop.

Steve Beresford‘s sparse piano improvisation is closer to Eno’s Discreet Music than Satie, but is a welcomed suggestion. Philip Wachsmann also contributes a solo track, on violin+electroacoustic tape. Other idiosyncratic tracks include Lol Coxhill jamming with a Japanese rock band and Dave Holland with a heart-breaking waltz. Generally speaking, in lieu of interpreting a famous Satie tune, participants to this compilation have chosen to revive the spirit of Satie: nobility, timelessness, playfulness, grace, musical joke, etc. Extraordinary disc, that reignited my interest for Satie.

7 Tableaux Phoniques:

Alan Hacker
01 Premier Hymne Delphique (2:36)
02 Music Hall (2:10)
03 Terra Violata Interlude (excerpt) (1:13)
04 Steve Beresford ‘Budapest Subway’ (6:57)
05 Robert Cornford ‘Welcome’ (4:45)
David Holland
06 Moving Things From A To B (4:11)
07 Faltz Waltz (3:21)
08 Philip Wachsmann ‘For Mémoires Of An Amnesiac’ (5:30)
09 Tony Coe ‘Allair Mets’ (6:25)
10 Lol Coxhill ‘Faction De Satie’ (6:13)

Total time 43:15
LP released by Nato, France, 1993


5 Responses to “Erik Satie ‘7 Tableaux Phoniques’”

  1. 1 Lucky February 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    This is indeed a wonderful fresh approach to Satie. It’s sad that this composer is often reduced to harmless melancholic music, without the sharp wit and insane humour.

    Nato released also two other Satie records, one by Ulrich Gumpert, the other by Tony Hymas. They’re all available as triple-CD box here, and all 3 also individually (re-issue 2007) – just fyi.


  2. 2 continuo February 1, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    I was not aware of a CD reissue, Lucky. Might put down my download link at some point.

  3. 3 Lucky February 1, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    continuo – it wasn’t my attention of sounding moral or anything, but i know that you care about such things and should know. since you offer a rip of old vinyl with “lots of clicks and pops – uncomparable to a remastered cd which is much superior”… ;-)

  4. 4 continuo February 1, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I’ve never heard of a remastered CD sounding better than an LP, but if you say so…
    The truth is I wouldn’t have posted this disc if I were aware of a CD, so thanks for the info.

  5. 5 Peter December 8, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Intriguing! Thank you!

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