Posted on Nov 2nd 2011 01:22 am

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Philippe Pannier & Isambard Khroustaliov: Chaleur

Not Applicable 2011
07 Tracks. 33mins58secs

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Like most of the records published under the Not Applicable banner, Chaleur is before all a meeting of minds and the fulfilment of a unique vision. French classical guitarist Philippe Pannier and experimental sound artist Sam Britton met back in 2006 at IRCAM in Paris when they were invited to work on a piece for banjo and electronics to be composed by Sam. The pair exchanged ideas which were eventually realised on a piece called Junkspace, which was featured on Britton’s Isambard Khroustaliov’s album Ohka. The pair lost touch for a while, but rekindled their partnership following the release of Ohka, eventually getting together once more at the end of last year, this time in a north-eastern suburb of Paris, Le Blanc Mesnil. They spent two days rehearsing and throwing ideas at each other, and these exchanges were recorded and later assembled into a coherent work, lasting just under thirty five minutes and articulated around seven tracks.

Chaleur is expectedly challenging and angular, its fragmented components collated into miniature sonic clusters, which are then arranged into more substantial soundscapes to form the core structure of these pieces. The set up here is resolutely minimal and abstract. Pannier’s guitar and banjo contributions are, at times, so syncopated and disjointed that the hints of melody which result are rarely sustained for long when left in their raw state. They are otherwise split open, dissected, pulled apart and reassembled into components of varying density, which are then heavily processed and positioned deep into Britton’s abstract constructions, where they share the space with shreds of orchestral instrumentation, occasionally processed piano and sparse electronics.

Each piece has a very defined tone, some more intricate than others, yet they all contribute to the overall narrative of the record. Pieces such as Coïncidence, Légèrement or Unions are relatively free of tension, their infinitely minimal and detailed sound compositions appearing almost too fragile to retain any substance, but the hectic construction which characterise Habituellement or the intense collages of Arrivé or Entre Des are charged with bubbling energy, which, whilst never actually released, carry much of this album.

As Isambard Khroustaliov, Sam Britton has gone far beyond the complex sonic space he has been exploring for well over a decade as one half of Icarus to explore the outer reaches of sonic experimentation, but, while he has occasionally done this alone, he has found some extraordinary travelling companions to help him map these alien territories. Philippe Pannier proves a superb partner in this endeavour, and the result of their collaboration is a thoroughly uncompromising piece of work.


Not Applicable
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