ON: Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not (Type Recordings)


Posted on Jul 14th 2010 01:11 am

Filed in Albums | Tags: , , ,
Comments (1)

On: Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not

Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not
Type Recordings 2010
05 Tracks. 48mins23secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

The idea behind On is quite unique. Originally the project of French experimental pianist and guitarist Sylvain Chauveau and Chicago-based drummer and percussionist Steven Hess, On has always involved a third component, but instead of being a permanent feature as such, the pair have chosen to put their documented improvisations in the hands of another artist and give him carte blanche to create an album with this material. In the past, this duty has fallen onto the laps of Helge Sten, known amongst others as one third of Supersilent and for his production work for artists as diverse as Susanna And The Magical Orchestra, Motorpsycho, Arve Henriksen or Nils Petter Molvær. On Your Naked Ghost Comes Back At Night, Sten processed the duo’s original recordings into chilling atmospheric soundscapes close to his output as Deathprod. For their second effort, the pair enrolled the services of French musician Pierre-Yves Macé, who created extremely sparse ambient electro-acoustic pieces set on the outer boundaries of musique concrète.  For this latest escapade, Chauveau and Hess recorded a new set of improvisations in Hess’s Chicago studio and called upon Austrian guitarist and laptop experimentalist Christian Fennesz to rework them into the pieces presented on this third album.

As with previous effort, it is often difficult to isolate the original work from the processed sounds, but this is part of the attraction of this rather original proposition. Expectedly, Something That Has Form… sounds nothing its predecessors, but it also bears very little resemblance to any of Fennesz’s work, apart for a particular approach to textures and sound forms which characterizes most of this record. Unlike Sten or Macé, Fennesz occasionally lets some of the original instrumentation transpire through the processed sounds. This is particularly the case on the title track where both an electric piano and drums appear almost untouched over layers of distant noise. On A Tardy Admission That The Crisis Is Serious, the backdrop is much more diffuse, but at the fore, Hess’s drums continuously echo from one side of the spectrum to the other in a rapid Doppler effect.

Elsewhere though, the soundscapes are much more enigmatic. Real instrumentation is drowned in layers of textures and glitches, and things take on more abstract shapes. On The Inconsolable Polymath which opens, a single drone-like high pitched note hangs over a mechanical hum for the entire piece, but other similarly static tones materialise over the five and a half minutes, creating strange stellar harmonies and dissonances. Blank Space is more abrasive, but its rough surface noises and interferences edge towards greatly amplified life forms rather than machines, a feeling emphasised by the constant change of pressure applied onto its pace. Unfolding over nearly twenty minutes, it is not immediately apparent how The Sound Of White actually progresses. At its core is a recurring fragment of melody placed over slowly decaying sonic debris, but it is this very process of decay which pushes the piece forward and provides the necessary nutriment for new components to grow around the main theme.

The approach adopted both by Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess on one side and their occasional collaborators on the other give their collaborative work a totally unique dimension. Although at the heart of the record, the two musicians almost deny their ego of any honing by handing out their contributions and not interfering any further. Equally, the pair’s guests have such total control over the finished forms that it could be tempting to do with the given material as with their own. Yet it is a trap that none of the three ‘reworkers’ have so far fallen into. Fennesz envisages here a soundtrack set somewhere between the remote corners of an ascetic post rock and the richer, yet also more threatening, reaches of electronic music in its most abstract incarnation. The result is a record which teems with life and underlying energy.


On (MySpace) | Type Recordings
Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Filed in Albums | Tags: , , ,
Comments (1)

One Response to “ON: Something That Has Form And Something That Does Not (Type Recordings)”

  1. […] Improvisation is an art form which Christian Fennesz, David Daniell and Tony Buck have made theirs in their respective field. Recorded live at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee at the beginning of last year, this album documents the trio’s first ever performance as an ensemble. Having never performed before was never going to be an issue for these three veterans of live improvisation. On one side is Australian drummer and percussionist extraordinaire Tony Buck, best known as one third of The Necks, with whom he has been performing and recording for twenty years. On the other are Atlanta-born David Daniell, who, beside his solo work, has collaborated with an impressive number of musicians over the years, from Thurston Moore and Douglas McCombs to Greg Davis or Sylvain Chauveau, and Austrian experimental guitarist and laptop artist Christian Fennesz, whose list of collaborators is equally as impressive, including people as diverse as Jim O’Rourke, Peter Rehberg, David Sylvian, Ryuichi Sakamoto or, recently, Sylvain Chauveau and Steven Hess. […]