GALERIE STRATIQUE: Faux World (Statik Distribution)


Posted on Sep 23rd 2008 11:15 pm

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Galerie Stratique: Faux World

Faux World
Statik Distribution 2008
15 Tracks. 46mins14secs

With his debut album, Nothing Down To Earth (Law & Auder, 2001) and its follow up, Horizzzons (Statik, 2003), Quebecer Charles-Emile Beullac created wonderful lush and evocative electronic soundtracks using a rhetoric close to that used by the likes of Boards Of Canada or Isan. His new offering is quite different. Primarily based on acoustic sound sources, ranging from flute, kalimba, xylophone and tablas to darbouka, udus, and tamboa, most of which were collected during a trip to Indonesia, the original recordings were made during a three-day jam session with friend and percussionist Raphaël Simard, with sole purpose to catalogue sounds rather than traditional use of these instruments. This is a process far removed from this album’s predecessor, which used almost no samples at all.

Faux World was inspired by the vague souvenir that Beullac retained of Indonesia as he fell victim of the side effects of the anti malaria tablets he took prior to the trip. Nightmares, irrational fears and a state of self-alienation pushed Beullac, who was travelling alone, to the brink of a serious breakdown. Hence the title of this record and of some of the tracks (Rêves Agités (Disturbing Dreams), Désoriente/Réorienté (Disorientated/Re-orientated), Mirages Rémanents (Persistent Mirages)), all betraying a precarious state of mind and reinforcing some of the slightly oppressing atmospheres found scattered along the way. And this is what differentiates this record from Beullac’s previous outputs. While both Nothing Down-To Earth and Horizzzons were established on smooth and lush soundscapes and gentle ambiences, Faux World is a much more tormented and distorted affaire, where rhythmic patterns appear distorted and instruments are processed into asynchronous and uneven loops to form slightly disconcerting combinations. Beullac’s densely packed soundscapes appear to form and dissipate with insistent regularity throughout. More than once does a melody or a theme arise which sounds almost identical to one that has been heard earlier, yet when going back to find said sequence, it turns out entirely different.

Very much like the optical illusions that plagued Beullac during his trip, the mind is disorientated by the constant shift of emphasis between the rhythmic and melodic elements found throughout the record. This is very much to the credit of Beullac to retain full control over these liquid soundscapes and moods. On Plastic Snakes, Beullac gives a first insight into the rich rhythmic patterns which serve as backbone to the majority of the tracks here. Behind the reverberating growls of a deep bell-like drone takes shape a scintillating constellation of percussions, thick as a tropical jungle yet wonderfully light and airy. It all comes to an abrupt end only a minute in, but soon Beullac adds layer after layer of percussion and painstakingly rebuilds the entire sequence. Later, similar intricate formations flourish into colourful strands on Mécanique Onirique, Bambou, Fêtes Nocturne or Les Beautés S’ignorent, albeit at times in slightly more constrained forms. It often seems as multiple rhythmic patterns develop at their own pace, some well in the forefront, while others, more discreet or minute, linger in the background.

Elsewhere, the combinations are less complex, and the emphasis is on the musicality of the source instruments more than on their rhythmic capacity. Soleil D’acier, Sunda, Cordes or Hors Champs for instance, reveal much more subtle atmospheric components and develop in slower phases, allowing for gentle loops to take shape and create much more peaceful patterns. Toward the end of the record, Beullac puts once again the focus on distortions and mind trickery with Désoriente/Réorienté and Orienté, but, after the clusters of abrasive metallic noise scattered over Mirages Rémanents, a dense drone appear to signal a return to relative normality and calm, as if, after the torment of previous compositions, only a vague impression of the whole experience remained.

In form, Faux World is not without recalling Audiotourism, the document of Freeform’s Simon Pyke’s travels through China and Vietnam, but the purpose of the record is very different indeed. Here, Charles-Emile Beullac documents his impressions and oppressions of Indonesia, and these filter right down into the heart of the tracks to create a strange and disconcerting universe. An often distorted and abstract record, Faux World is also a stunning achievement and a testament to how Beullac’s sound and approach have matured.


Galerie Stratique | Statik Distribution

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