Born 1924 in Copenhagen, painter, photographer and film maker Viktor Knud relocated to Southern France around 1965 and has since lived in Cheval Blanc, near Gorges du Régalon (the Lubéron area in Vaucluse – see googlemap). He started recording insects and minute sound phenomenons in the early 1970s, equipped with self-build microphones, in a way and with an approach that was close to today’s field recordists. While still connected to Musique Concrète during the 1970s, his sound work slowly moved to (almost) un-processed field recordings and close-miking technique, culminating in a series of emblematic recordings: a spider weaving its web, a woodworm, ants hitting the ground with their abdomen, etc.
In the area where he lived in the 1970s, Knud Viktor (his artist name) met several kindred souls, like French legendary ornithologist and bird-recordist Jean-Claude Roché (artist name: Jean C. Roché). A friend of Knud, for whose first LP he wrote liner notes, Roché lived nearby in Aubenas-Les-Alpes. In 1972 (the year Images was released), Roché was himself in South America’s Amazon region, recording his breathtaking ‘Oiseaux du Vénézuela’ LP for Edwards Records – see here. Between 1964 and 1966, Roché had self-released the 27 volumes of his monumental French Birds Guide on 7” records. Coincidentally, Roché was also a photographer, especially found of macro-photography. The little village of Aubenas-Les-Alpes was also the home of French raconteur Jacques Coutureau, founder of Le Grand Magic Circus in 1968. In 1977, he published the La Forêt des Heures solo LP on L’Oiseau Musicien label and in 1979, he released an LP with Crystal Baschet accompaniment titled L’oiseau qui faisait du lait – see Discogs. There is little doubt Knud found the local L’Oiseau Musicien label and studios (also from Vaucluse area) through Jean C. Roché. During the 1970s, the label released folk and jazz, but was close to local environmentalists like the above-mentioned Roché and Coutureau. L’Oiseau Musicien released the two Knud Viktor LPs in 1972, the first being Images (KV01), the second Ambiances (KV02).
What makes this album so special, then? First, it goes back to the very roots of Musique Concrète as defined by Pierre Schaeffer: a unique sound source, vari-speed technique, textures in counterpoint, immense care to pitch and rhythm. Knud Viktor adds an autobiographical dimension to the formula, using sounds he recorded himself after personal involvement and hunting in his own environment, recording insects and water sounds at hand. The music becomes an audio diary as well as a personal reenactment of the act of listening, as experienced on location, what Knud Viktor calls ‘Images Sonores’, as opposed to music, or Musique concrète, for that matter. Both music and track titles on Images are inspired by Claude Debussy‘s own obsession with water and outdoor games. Tracks #1 to 4 use water drops as unique sound source, while #5 and 6 are based on cicadas, fly and vocal recordings. Track #3, Images 1c, for instance, examines and magnifies the elasticity of a water drop, playing with the infinite variations, rebounds and possibilities of a unique sound sample. Track #4, Images 3, is a study in rhythm from a simple water drop. The last track, Jeu 1, is a powerful mix of a fly trapped in a container, percussion sounds and treated vocals, reminiscent of the François Bayle and Robert Wyatt collaboration titled It, in 1971.
Knud Viktor – Images (or Images et Jeux):
01 Images 1a (3:01)
02 Images 1b (3:00)
03 Images 1c (3:36)
04 Images 3 (8:21)
05 Images 2 (10:34)
06 Jeu 1 (4:10)
Total time 32:40
LP released by L’Oiseau Musicien, KV01, France, 1972
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