W² by eric la casa
Dans le domaine du field-recording, je pense qu'Eric La Casa est l’artiste le plus intéressant, en France très certainement mais aussi également au niveau international, non pas tant pour la qualité de ses prises de son (même si elle est souvent exceptionnelle), que pour la démarche qu’il adopte. Eric La Casa se considère avant tout comme un musicien, voire comme un improvisateur, ce qui l’a amené à travailler avec de grands noms des musiques improvisées au cours des années ; des musiciens tels que Jean-Luc Guionnet, Seijiro Murayama, Axel Dörner, Pascal Battus et Bertrand Gauguet. Les prises de son de La Casa se font effectivement de manière très organique et interactive, le recorder n’hésite pas à modifier ses micros et à se déplacer selon le déroulement de ce qui est enregistré. La Casa n’enregistre pas de manière passive, mais il réagit à l’environnement qu’il saisit, et dialogue constamment avec lui comme deux improvisateurs le feraient entre eux.
Cette démarche et cette attitude sont manifestes lorsqu’il collabore avec des improvisateurs, mais elle se dévoile aussi très bien lors de ses travaux en solo, pour field recordings seulement. W², compilation de pièces enregistrées par La Casa sur dix années, et publiée par la label malaisien Herbal International en 2010, rend bien compte du talent exceptionnel de La Casa. W² comme Water & Wind, soit deux disques, l'un consacré à l’eau et l’autre au vent. Au total, près de deux heures trente de field recordings. Oui, ça a de quoi en faire frémir plus d’un, mais ce n’est pas aussi éprouvant que ça en a l’air. Car il s’agit d’une suite de pièces indépendantes qui durent entre dix et vingt minutes, au maximum, juste la durée nécessaire pour bien pénétrer chaque univers, sans se lasser.
Sur ce double disque, les ambiances, les atmosphères et les univers sonores sont très variés. Sur le premier disque, consacré à l’élément liquide, par exemple, La Casa compose avec des sons provenant de gouttes d’eau dans une cave, d’enregistrements de l’océan, de rivière, du ressac, de l’interaction entre l’eau et la roche, l’eau et l’air, etc. Et quant au second volume, il touche autant à l’air expulsé par un ventilateur dans une usine qu’au vent pendant une tempête et à différentes formes de souffles naturels dans des milieux géographiques distincts. Comme on peut déjà le constater, les sujets enregistrés sont variés, mais c’est également l’approche qui varie en fonction des sujets. Dès la phase de prise de son, ou encore lors de l’édition, Eric La Casa rentre au cœur d’un élément sonore, en fait disparaître d’autres, il joue avec l’intensité de l’ambiance générale, puis avec la dynamique d’un seul son, le sujet est parfois très proche, parfois très éloigné, de multiples plans se distinguent, etc.
Eric La Casa parvient à composer avec les enregistrements pour ce qu’ils sont, en dehors de leurs références ; il les enregistre puis les équalise comme si c’était une matière instrumentale plus que comme s'il s'agissait de sons réels et concrets. La Casa sait littéralement jouer avec les environnements sonores : micros et focus se déplacent au gré des compositions et des structures pour composer des pièces très riches faites d’une multitude de plans, d’écarts de dynamiques, de superposition et de juxtaposition, mais aussi de timbres et de textures diversifiées, d’ambiances et d’atmosphères uniques et hors du commun.
De nombreux field-recorders ont une approche originale de l’enregistrement (comme Dave Philips ou Francisco Lopez pour ne citer que les plus connus), mais si Eric La Casa me plaît autant, c’est pour cette approche unique de la prise de son, où l’enregistrement et l‘environnement sont vécus de manière aussi organique et interactive. C’est cette proximité avec les méthodes de la musique improvisée qui rend à mon avis ses prises de son aussi vivante, variée, profonde et unique surtout. On reconnaît très bien les sources, elles ne sont pas tellement modifiées, mais l’angle sous lequel elles sont approchées les rendent uniques et inouïes, et mettent en avant la perspective de La Casa et sa subjectivité. Eric La Casa est peut-être l’oreille parfaite dans laquelle j’aime m’immerger pour écouter le monde différemment. Julien Héraud, http://www.dmute.net/ 18/12/2013
Compositions using field recordings of wind and water are ten a penny these days. As portable digital recording equipment falls in price, it feels like every other new release attempts to document natural soundworlds and turn them into music. So given their current ubiquity it would take a particularly fine set of such recordings to grab the attention. W2, a collection of pieces gathered together over the decade between 1998 and 2008 by French field recordist Eric La Casa is just that. Eric La Casa notes on the two CDs included here, one containing water sounds, the other wind, he does not seek to document nature as much as his personal journey through what he describes as a sound story. Certainly the narrative found in the 14 tracks here, the sense of drama flowing through them, sets La Casa's work apart. Just five minutes into the opening track on the Water disc, as a crash of thunder cuts across streams of running water recordings, the music becomes more than just documentation - it takes on an almost symphonic form. From the thunderous force of water thrashing against stone on "S'Ombre Part 1", to the seething effervescence of fierce rushes of air on "L'Air Au Fond Rouge", these 14 compositions are alive and present in the room. It is testament to La Casa's sound choices and his placement of them into simple but highly effective structures that these tracks feel so fresh and exciting. If the composer's journey has a tale to tell, it is full of twists and turns, one minute vibrant and colourful, the next quite bleak and hostile, as with some of the more sombre recordingd on the Wind disc. Rather than merely presenting audio snapshots of nature, La Casa's work over the last decade reflects something of the human condition in the environment that surrounds us. A beautiful collection of pieces from a vast and significant body of work, W2 engages the listener far beyond documentary voyeurism. A personal journey for La Casa maybe, but it is impossible to listen and not be swept along its path. The wire, February 2011, by Richard Pinnell
This double disc is a collection in at least two ways. Firstly its a collection of pieces that have been released before on various compilations and secondly they are thematically grouped. On the first CD we find pieces that deal with water sounds and on the second pieces of wind sounds. All of that to be taken literally. For many years Eric LaCasa has recorded sounds of water and wind, and built pieces out of that. How he does that is not entirely clear, I must say, but no doubt I said that before. Is a piece of music here a straight recording of water running down the stream, or wind blowing through tree tops, or is it a combination of sounds, mixed together to make a piece of music? That's the question, and my best guess at answering that question is that its the latter. The water disc has pieces recorded from streams, but perhaps also rain and/or a combination of both. Its not easy, I must admit, to enjoy these discs. The water pieces at one point made me want to run for the toilet. A bit more variation, such as short and curiously EQ-ed 'Les Oscillations Part 1', was perhaps needed to be the perfect counterpart to the water pieces. In that respect the wind CD is much more interesting. Here too I am a bit clueless as to what I am actually hearing, but the wind seems to be moving objects around - objects of origins unknown obviously - and there are other noises moving around too, like street sounds, car passing and other motorized objects. This makes the whole disc more varied and when you don't look at the CD display, it almost makes a seventy minute soundscape piece, slowly moving from section to section. This 'Wind' disc is pretty damn fine listening experience, perhaps more mysterious than the 'Water' disc, or maybe more 'obscure' is the appropriate way to say that. Mixed feelings here about the whole thing, but throughout quite enjoyable. (FdW) Vital Weekly November 2010
I am, unfortunately, only minimally familiar with La Casa's previous work, so I have little direct idea how this set fits in though given that the recordings selected here were apparently amassed over some period of time, I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't more or less representative. Whatever the case, they're marvelous and present, at least in part, the other extreme, where the field recordings are all that is the case, however much they've been processed, layered, etc. (which I'm assuming is often the case here, though I could be wrong).
A fantastic compilation of location recordings from La Casa, spanning work he did around the world from 1998-2008. Sourced from water and wind, beautifully sequenced and presented, I will refrain from more, as I intend on writing about La Casa in 2011 as well. Will Guthrie told me once La Casa places his microphones like a pianist uses their finger pads, and I don't doubt it a whit. A great follow up to a La Casa-related favorite of mine, Metro Pre Saint Gervais, the subway sounds of La Casa, Eric Cordier and Dan Warburton. Jesse goin http://crowwithnomouth-jesse.blogspot.com/
Eric La Casa has spent 12 years listening to the wild, 10 of them documented on his 2010 2-CD release W2. With acutely attuned ears and intuitively placed microphones, La Casa focused from 1998 to 2008 nearly exclusively on the sounds of water and wind. He describes his work as improvisations with the sonic locale, less interested than many of his contemporaries in capturing and evoking a location, more interested in what he calls, variously, the pulsing of the world, an ineffable tumult, and the alchemy of water and stone. You won't be far into W2's chronicle of La Casa's last decade of traveling, listening, and recording, before you are pole-axed by the drama, intensity and elegance of what he heard. Some of the pieces own tensions and frissons akin to any orchestral works I could cite; several are laminal and offer an envelopment rivaling that of machine-made drone works. How does La Casa create work so distinct from mere field recordists? I couldn't tell you, but I can offer a few reflections that arose precisely as I listened to W2 with the best suspension of discriminating between instrumental music/location recordings I could muster.
Like Snyder's immersive and immediate effects when he writes about the elemental, La Casa has a sensibility and approach that regards all that he records [and shapes with some post-production] as alive, sentient, and thus co-equal with the poet/sound artist. In other words, he is pointing his mics with a specific, from my perspective, rarified, state of listening. Beyond technical protocol, La Casa writes, listening becomes tied up in the surfaces of the world. What a fantastic articulation of the sort of mind it requires to hear the constant music in the natural world. While Snyder obviously cultivated, in part, his attunement to the music of water, wind and stones with formal zen training, La Casa's words might as well be a page from a similar sutra - Listening is always situated in what I would qualify as the extreme present, he said in one interview, the instant when listening, landscape and time become one.
The two CDs bear the rubrics Wind and Water; you will hear both forces on both CDs, even, occasionally, humans and machines. The ineffable tumult La Casa references is pervasive across both discs; these are not recordings offering a tamed natural world, much less a soporific one. There are startling moments of hell-raising racket [there is, as well, the percussive play of the plinks and droplets of water's small, patterned sounds, and some assuaging, at least temporarily, breezes]. It is the wind disc, however, that most strongly evokes for me the idea of La Casa's orchestration of the rawest elements - while the water disc offers a range of sounds from pointillistic [droplets] to thunderously symphonic [great cataracts and torrents are loosed!], the wind music is terrifyingly forceful at times, impossible to gild with romantic or lyrical associations. La Casa shapes the high-pressured, gathering power of a wind storm like a hair-raising, ascending orchestral work. In one piece the wind is exciting and agitating some sort of metal structure, and the resultant protesting groans and howls of metal, well, bring that aforementioned pole-axing I promised.
The water music La Casa presents from various locales clarifies how inadequate a descriptor such as water music really is, much as most signifiers strain to convey what a sound sounds like with words like location recording, electro-acoustic improvisation, modern classical, et. al. La Casa's water music, in other words, owns such a vast range of sources and sonics, how could they all be contained in water? You are presented with sections and movements of engorged rivers, rain pelts, cave-reverbed drips and plonks, oscillations and waves that sing and cease altogether. La Casa's contemporaries, at least those who approach this level of richness, sonic diversity and uncontrived drama, are Toshiya Tsunoda, Chris Watson and, with a gusto akin to both Snyder and La Casa, Jeph Jerman. In literature, there is Gary Snyder, the poet who, as he put it long ago, moves in and makes home in the whole.
I wanted to say something about Snyder's deep connectedness to the elemental by drawing attention to his most lived-in face; his incantatory poetry speaks for itself. I also wanted to say something about how disconnected most of us who listen to this music are from the practice of the wild, at least a practice that includes actual exposure to the elements heard in La Casa's music. Perhaps another time I can write about the strangeness of our listening to the heaving, pulsing cataracts of the natural world through stereo speakers, rather than being engraved, as both Snyder and La Casa are, with the sources of this music. Some of us clearly want to be moved by these forces, seeking them in the music and poetry of these watchful and elegant minds. Eric La Casa's W2 is essential, elemental music, give it your ears. Jesse Goin, SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2011, http://crowwithnomouth-jesse.blogspot.com/2011/04/with-watchful-and-elegant-mind.html
Two discs, one of water sounds, one of wind. Why they sound so fantastic is, as I said above, rather like figuring out why an Eggleston snapshot is similarly so. The choices made, obviously--picking this set of sounds as opposed to that one, the sculpting involved, the ability to focus the observer on one or several foci (the amazing, metallic resonances in "Les pierres de seuil, part 5" on the water disc, for example). The sheer drama of the moment (or contrived moment), what La Casa, in his notes, refers to as the "sound story". The wind disc immediately offers sounds that seem more wind-caused than purely aeolian. But so, so full and...windy. And, I must say, an awful lot of drama. The arc and tension of these pieces may betray the compositional actions taken but they're so finely limned, one doesn't care. Describing them seems fruitless--something about the wind tracks is very special, maybe their sheer presence and seemingly endless variation within the form. Difficult to say; they seem to sum up the gist of an entire slice of the world, maybe the way Eggleston's teenage employee pushing a shopping cart manages to sum up his. Among the best of this area that I've heard. http://olewnick.blogspot.com/
April showers bring May flowers. That's what makes this time of year a perfect time to experience W2. For Americans who may be thinking, "W2 is the the name of my tax form, due April 15," there's no need to worry;this W2 is one disc of Water and one disc of Wind.
Eric La Casa has been making elemental field recordings for over a decade. Most of the tracks here have been previously released, which makes this project a sort of "greatest hits" compilation. Not that anyone is likely to say, "this 1999 track is obviously outdated; today's rain is so much better." Thankfully, the recording quality is consistent throughout. The sounds are crisp and three-dimensional, never isolated to a single speaker.
Those who are only familiar with field recordings due to relaxation tapes and sound effects are in for a surprise. The letdown of those recordings is that they manage to make nature sound bland and benign. Consider for example the various "sleep boxes", with settings for "gentle rain", "heavy rain", "wind" and "waves". Most of these are simple variations on white noise, with no discernible beginning, middle or end. The thunderstorm discs are especially maddening, reducing the EQ until the frightening becomes flat.
Now think back to some of the memorable storms of your own life: a windstorm that shook the rafters and toppled the oak in the front yard. A sudden hailstorm that dented the mailbox. A lightning storm that began with a rogue strike. A flash flood that cleared the beach. A hurricane that knocked out power, and its quiet, subtle eye. You may remember what some of these sounded like; you may wish you'd found some way to capture them.
This is exactly what La Casa manages to do, in tracks that range in length from three to twenty minutes. He records the sound of droplets in a cave, reverberating pipes, the sea by a lighthouse, flood tides on concrete, even "artificial rain in an industrialized zone"; a blast furnace, electrical waves, seeds in motion, wind beneath a door. The artist intentionally selects a variety of locations and sound sources, increasing his range of aural treasures. One suspects he's also performed a bit of studio manipulation in order to produce coherent tracks - either that, or he can run really fast between sound sources. Other noises pop up from time to time - a dog, a factory, a helicopter - but these are wisely kept in the mix, as they provide an extra serving of territorial grit, operating in the same manner as guest instruments at a concert.
Fans of instrumental music will likely be led to make structural comparisons. The architecture of these pieces often simulates that of post-rock, which itself imitates the classical: ebbs and flows, anticipatory builds and cathartic climaxes, quiet-loud-quiet-louder still. But it's fair to say that the wind and water came first. Years ago, before reviewers began to compare dramatic music to soundtracks, they compared symphonies to storms. So perhaps here we are hearing echoes of the first music: the Spirit of God, like a mighty wind, moving over the face of the deep. This primordial essence is W2's secret strength: on the surface, it's just water and wind, but at its essence, it's wild and unknowable. Richard Allen, March 2011, http://thesilentballet.com/
Eric La Casa est l’un des grands artistes de l’enregistrement de terrain (field recording). W2 est une compilation double regroupant les essentiels de sa production de la dernière décennie, sous deux thèmes: l’eau (disque 1) et le vent (disque 2). Un généreux menu de prises de son délicates, riches, composées avec soin, où les mystifications sonores se glissent entre nos oreilles au lieu de survenir. Notons particulièrement la présence de plusieurs pièces de la série “Les pierres du seuil” (à l’origine sur The Stones of the Threshold et Les Pierres du seuil 4-7). Et trois inédites. À déguster quelques-unes à la fois en immersion totale, ou en fond sonore continu, question de se dépayser.
Eric La Casa is one of the greatest field recording artists out there. W2 is a 2-CD compilation of his essential works of the last decade, organized into two themes: water (disc 1) and wind (disc 2). A generous helping of delicate, rich sound art works composed with care, where sonic mystifications quietly slip inside your ear instead of marching in or deafening you with surprise. I’ll point out the inclusion of several pieces from the “Les pierres du seuil” series (originally published on The Stones of the Threshold and Les Pierres du seuil 4-7). And three previously unreleased tracks. Immerse yourself into a few at a time, or use as background music to alter your environment. Francois Couture, Monsieur Delire
Really taken aback by the possibilities of rejuvenating and processing the field recordings I had a stroll with Eric's La Casa new cd from Herbal International which sets yet another groundbreaking frontier for further development of musique concrete genre in new context.
Eric is just but a few of the field recordist along with Marchetti, John Grinzich,and a few others who really transmutates the very thin tissue of raw sounds into soundscapic scenario of impossible possibilities and curves it down to the limit so the listener doesn't really distinguish the "road itself" from "the road taken". As in the quote from Nicholas Bouvier brought back by Eric himself - the journey we make unmakes us - in this sense unmakes the perceptive process to a point of great sensitivity.
It may sound a bit pretentious but these recordings do really investigate our listening process - so dim and blank overwhelmed by the magnitude of invading means of today's culture, that you may find a totally different angle of getting yourself to NOTICE what's been all around you...really important collection of music. Hubert Napiórski, Felthat Reviews