Pierre Vasseur – D’ailleurs

Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP box set
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP box set spread
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP front cover
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP back cover
Pierre Vasseur - D'ailleurs LP side 1

Pierre Vasseur, 1987After graduating as an engineer, French composer Pierre Vasseur (pictured right) studied electroacoustic music with Pierre Schaeffer and Guy Reibel at Paris’ C.N.S.M. and later, in the early 1980s, researched computer music at G.R.M. In 1985, Vasseur launched his own label, titled Free Way Musique, to release his own works, starting with his electroacoustic opera La Loira (see discography below). This piece was re-staged in 2006 during one of INA-GRM’s concert series. After 1985, Vasseur became a full-time stage music composer, working principally for theater and plays by William Shakespeare, Valère Novarina or Mauricio Kagel’s Le Tribun. Living in Lille, in Northern France, Vasseur still composes stage music today. In 1999, he was commissioned a piece for orchestra by fellow Northerners Art Zoyd, premiered by Orchestre National de Lille.

The electroacoustic-cum-music theater sound work D’Ailleurs – XV Champs Introspectifs, or Out There – 15 Introspective Songs/Fields (pun), was commissioned by the organizers of a psychiatry conference on disabled people and music – especially on the use of music in therapy, held in 1986 in Lille, in Northern France. It was apparently staged once prior to this disc version, by director Jacky Lautem. The LP comes in a special box-set including the booklet of the conference’s proceedings. D’Ailleurs… is based on schizophrenics’ writings collected by psychiatrist Jean Enottacce, excerpted from his book L’Absurde et Le Néant. I’m reminded of one of these psychic paradoxes in Ronald D. Laing’s anti-psychiatric books of the 1960s-70s, like The Divided Self or Knots. The text is largely based on puns, some recurring several times as a dotted line, like the following alliteration on vowel sounds (end of tr.#5):

Sombre ombre d’homme en trombe dans sa tombe sobre
[Dark shadow of a man rushing to his sober tomb]

♫ Two actors conduct the reading, Cyril Robichez and Anne Gilbert, but D’Ailleurs… also includes recordings of patients in various mental hospitals of Northern France (Lille, Roubaix, Tourcoing), and the collaboration of professional actors for background vocals.  Two brooding electronic drones frame D’Ailleurs…, perhaps signaling the entry into another world. The introductory electronic track is titled Champ II not I because, apparently, the reading, or Lecture, of the text without music is implicitly Champ I. The main reader is actor Cyril Robichez, whose deep, monotone voice envelopes the listener. Young actress Anne Gilbert’s interventions are shorter and her playful, gay voice is used as a conterpoint to Robichez’s morose readings. Varied sound treatments are applied to the voices, including spatiallization, ring-modulation, echo, etc, and D’Ailleurs… is hence a little theater of voices. The other people heard more briefly are patients, actors, singers and passers-by recorded in the street. Electronic and musique concrète sounds create a dreamy, otherworldly atmopshere, perhaps suggestive of some mental disorder. In any case, the solo electric guitar on track #09 Champ X comes as a surprise. To sum things up, I’d say this disc is mind-blowing if you understand French, just amazing if you don’t.

D’ailleurs – XV Champs Introspectifs
01 Champ II (3:45)
02 Champ III (:38)
03 Champ IV (3:30)
04 Champ V (2:50)
05 Champ VI (5:06)
06 Champ VII (3:20)
07 Champ VIII (2:46)
08 Champ IX (3:10)
09 Champ X (3:02)
10 Champ XI (3:46)
11 Champ XII, XIII (4:03)
12 Champ XIV, XV (6:50)

Anne Gilbert, Cyril Robichez, voices
Pierre Vasseur, electronic, composition
Jacky Lautem, dramaturgy

Total time 42:46
LP released by Free Way Musique, ref. 868700, France, 1987


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Pierre Vasseur discography:
1985 La Loira (Extraits)/Lacertae/Transparences, LP, Free Way Musique
1987 D’ailleurs – XV champs introspectifs, LP, Free Way Musique
1993 Le sens caché/Purple frame/Lacertae, CD, Free Way Musique

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5 Responses to “Pierre Vasseur – D’ailleurs”

  1. 1 Biglemoi November 8, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Nice finding, never heard of him although I used to attend GRM sessions a few years ago in Paris. Merci, belle découverte ! ;)

  2. 2 continuo November 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    You’re welcome.

  3. 3 makako November 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Magnífico. Por cierto ya hecho en falta el siguiente continuumix que tanto me gustan.

  4. 4 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián November 10, 2011 at 12:33 am

    amazing record indeed! as always thanks for sharing!


  5. 5 continuo November 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

    @ Makako: a new Continuumix is on its way and is due in a couple of months. Thanks for you comment.
    @ Joaquín: D’ailleurs is a terrific LP and I’m glad you didn’t let it pass. Thanks, Joaquín.

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