ERIC LA CASA & EAMON SPROD - FRICHE: TRANSITION (CD by Swarming)

The hyperrealistic artwork with a twelve page elegant booklet immediately grabs our attention. Friche: Transition is the first collaborative project of Eamon Sprod and Eric La Casa.. Sprod is an Australian sound artist working for almost two decades; La Casa is an experienced French experimenter and field recorder. In Spring 2015, they spent a week making recordings in areas in the northeast of Paris and over the canal Ourcq. These are areas that are mostly full of garbage, spaces of waste located within the city. They can be considered as alien outposts where it’s possible to listen to the wheezes of a contemporary metropolis regurgitating its own development. Behind a continuous hiss, the weave of the first “transition” is basically made of small buzzes; dogs barking; and piercing audio emergencies; noise made by small movements and by the wind; whistles and crackles. In the following section, the alternation between silence and sound sets a different perception of the space, with a larger presence of machinic elements. But this is just a fleeting impression, because the nature of this indistinct rummage consists of moving inside an enormous variety of dull and dark sounds. In our imagination, the artists are guides walking over a slow and deep, cathartic travel in some difficult lands. There are also rolls, liquid sounds or sounds produced by materials burning, metallic or glass resonances. It’s possible to obtain a list of audio recordings from the garbage, a sum of vibrating data, which is given a certain development (we don’t know if it’s the result of some post-production work or just the raw recordings). The final result is outstanding; the duo is able to transform something from everyday life belonging to a still and depressing environment into an engaging, mysterious and unforgettable experience. We are next to the border of a huge city: its undifferentiated whispers talk about what is just residual, functionless, just deaf sounds and putrid substance. Is this still music? Is it art? Is it social commentary under poetic forms? A clear answer is not possible, or, actually is not convenient: in some cases the vagueness offers more resources and shows us all the ambiguity of everyday life, which cannot simply be reduced to formulas, discourses and rational analysis.
Aurelio Cianciotta, Neural Magazine, October 2019
http://neural.it/2019/10/eric-la-casa-eamon-sprod-%e2%80%8e-friche-transition/

For a week during the Spring of 2015, Eric La Casa and Eamonn Sprod recorded on "waste grounds" in Paris and along the canal Ourcq. The resulting sounds were then re-arranged and collated into their present form. What's on offer then are sounds of cast-offs being manipulated alongside naturally occurring sounds of the surroundings. Edits are often quite abrupt and sometimes startling, a few times chopping off spoken words before they are fully uttered. Dogs bark, and things are smacked or dropped or rubbed. Sudden metallic hollow sounds trailing into apparent silence. Water and tumbling. These often-rapid displays of seemingly disparate sound serve to constantly retune one's attention, making for a fascinating listen.
The sounds are interesting in themselves, and their juxtaposition even more so. There are sudden blasts of ringing air and low end rumbling amid scuffle and squeak, truncated train roar, rolling glass, quiet distant city ambience and lots of thrashing about in piles of detritus. The disc is divided into 10 unnamed tracks, probably more for convenience than with any structure in mind. A listen in shuffle mode will reveal surprises in other orders. I recommend you play it on repeat.
Jeph Jerman, the Squid's Ear, january 2020
http://www.squidco.com/cgi-bin/news/newsView.cgi?newsID=2221

This release has special resonance for me as the sounds were recorded in and around the neighborhood in Paris where I lived for two years (and where La Casa resides). We spent many a day walking and biking along the Canal Ourcq, both inside the city proper (within the Périphérique) and out into the banlieues of Pantin, Bobigny and beyond. La Casa and Sprod (perhaps better known by his nom de musique, Tarab), wandered along the canal as well as the abandoned railway, known as La Petite Ceinture, which circles Paris, largely underground but exposed at several points including in the northeast section of the Parc Buttes-Chaumont and at several other points in the XIX and XX arrondissements, including a bridge over the canal. The recordings were made in 2015 and processed over the last couple of years.
As is generally the case with La Casa's work (Sprod's as well, to the extent I'm aware of it, mostly from work done ten to fifteen years ago, although there's a new one from him as well that I'll get to soon), the sounds captured and presented walk a line between the mundane and the mysterious. That is to say, the sources are everyday, grimy, urban--things that occur routinely all around us, but are morphed into precision sound worlds that isolate, combine, make transparent, add vast depth to the ordinary, making them alien and wonderful. Here, they apparently dwelled in waste areas, the cover image showing garbage behind a scrim of dried branches. Bumps, rustles, gurgles, metallic bangs, wires zinging, clicks, obscure screeches--the world is rich in noise, clear deep and not a little troubling. The way the four tracks have been structured also strikes a fine balance between seeming randomness and implied narrative, the final track closing the expedition with an explosive, dynamic flourish.
Fine work indeed.
Brian Olewnick, Just Outside, http://olewnick.blogspot.com/2019/04/eric-la-casaeamon-sprod-friche.html Thursday, April 18, 2019

For an album built entirely out of field recordings, the most surprising quality of “Friche: Transition” is how industrial it sounds. “Friche: Transition” was assembled out of field recordings taken at the outer edges of Paris over the course of a week, “on waste grounds… spaces which are somehow both inside yet apart from the city; waiting spaces from which to listen to the threshold of the city.” A series of photographs and hand-written notes bring the spaces to life; looking at them as you listen certainly colours how the sounds are understood by tying them to specific environments. For me, that actually made the music more evocative. If I’d only read that these were urban field recordings from the outer edges of Paris, I might not have really known what was meant. I’d imagine auto repair shops and highways. The images show a variety of locations and acoustic spaces that both La Casa and Sprod explored with microphones and digital recorders. That these guys would work together so seamlessly is no surprise. Both composers deal with field recordings in a similarly hands-on manner; not as objective documentary, but as poetic raw material for extremely detailed and dramatic music. The locations’ peculiar character remains legible throughout, but “Friche: Transition” is ultimately music and not ecological exercise. To listen to this all the way through is wonderfully unnerving; just when you’re lulled by the static metallic rumble, sharp cuts and clanks leap across the stereo field and jolt out in sharp-angled jump-scares. Listening to a big city from its ignored edges means capturing the menacing acoustics of tunnels, the drone of distant traffic and faraway voices, active trash-heap clatter, threatening low-frequency drops, oncoming trains, cell phone interference. The lengthiest section, part 3, bashes rocks around at a steadily rolling density while skittering plastic and water attack from all sides until flurries of activity in discrete channels give an impression of overwhelming movement that constantly speeds up, stops, switches to something entirely different… bends plastic in your ear then throws you down a well, only to instantly teleport you to the centre of an auto scrap yard and then plunge you back underground. So much is happening each second that a single listen doesn’t do it justice. I’ve experienced “Friche: Transition” intently all the way through on headphones about six times so far, and have come away with latching on to new details each time. This album is exhilarating and thrillingly exhausting.
Vital, Howard D Stelzer, week 15 2019 (http://www.vitalweekly.net/1178.html)

Borders, frontiers, boundaries. These words have gained a certain relevance in today’s western society. With a fearsome diffusion of nationalist movements and sovereign ideologies, the medieval sense of fixed land division obstructs the path towards liquidity and permeability and towards the establishment of a real global village.
But the mistake of believing in such a crystalized model of political geography, despite how convenient it might be for some people, is guilty of deliberately ignoring that a border – if there is one – is not just a black line on a map but a much wider strip in which gradients of different languages, architectures, beliefs, foods, uses and traditions overlap generating an incredibly rich and ever changing mixture – and clash – of cultures of which the problematic aspect is also the interesting one, the juicy fruit, the aesthetic factor and for us the means to question the world and build an awareness.
The work from Eric La Casa and Eamon Sprod is quite an iconic one in this sense, starting from the title “Friche: Transition” – where Friche explains the setting, Transition gives us a perception of its role – it dives into a deep investigation of modern borders. As in contemporary Europe and how the level of urbanisation increases together with gentrification pushing away the lower classes of society towards the most peripheral areas of the big cities, the big difference in terms of life costs, behaviours, and lifestyles is now intrinsic of conurbations and not between countries anymore.
This is the gap that the artists here are sonically interested in: how is sound inside this juncture? How does it change from the centre of the city to the rural surroundings?
The soundscape they present appears sonically diverse and very dense. The gathered materials are not strongly edited or heavily transformed, their sonic qualities, their identity is still clear and well recognisable, yet what we listen to is not just field recording. All the gestures deriving from the interactions of the humans with the space, are isolated and rearranged, exploited with an outstanding compositional taste.
To enhance the sense of truth in what we hear is the presence – for good or bad – of everyday common technology in the sonic panorama. The interference of mobile phone signals against the recording device, the magnification of small sound objects happening inside the headphones and its awareness in technological listening, the musical use of recording artefacts as compositional elements follow the steps of uncompromising post-GRM French tape music.
Left and right channels are cut and discretely operated. The composers jump from large materials that occupy the full width of the stereo field, establishing the setting within a severe distinction of mono sources fired straight into both channels.
The sensation we have then is of a total lack of any aprioristic concept, each choice Is strongly dependent only the nature of the material and driven only by its sonic qualities, in observance of the purest ex-post tradition of “musique concrète” where listening is the only true rule
Due to such approach, the album itself then becomes the border between an inner perception of space and an outer perception, and somehow it would make a lot of sense to bring the listening experience outside the walls of a living room, in a field, in a bar, on an explorative walk in some areas of your city, affording a leakage of the soundscape surrounding us into our headphones and experiencing a personal transition.
ToneShift, Giuseppe Pisano, April 2, 2019 (https://toneshift.net/2019/04/02/eric-la-casa-x-eamon-sprod/?fbclid=IwAR2rFkHiprwybOe9Z24ivsLzOvnQlx2MYWXM0EE7ZjMw7QETCdmEhVRG49U)

A fascinating phenomenon, that of field recording-based sound art. In a way, it is comparable to a branch of ecology: think of the contextualization of natural and metropolitan emanations as a counteragent of human garrulousness, a plague that will never disappear. And yet, the latter is often a fundamental component of this type of study, camouflaged (or less) within the environmental presences. If anything, by listening to recordings including a whole gamut of concrete occurrences one can learn to distinguish the actual nourishment – for example, the inimitable honesty of an echoing forlorn area – while repudiating the pestilential shallowness of presumed intellectual activities.
However, in Friche: Transition Eric La Casa and Eamon Sprod restricted the fleshly integrant to themselves, as assemblers and studio engineers of the source materials. The duo does not furnish us with precise coordinates, except for naming the places where the core substances were gathered. This forces a responsive listener to inhabit these soundscapes minus the compulsory “understanding”of what is happening around his/her head. The suggestions caused by the resounding events – whose dynamic variety is definitely extensive – are enough to disclose important meanings, in turn leading to forms of awareness.
Quite frequently, a release belonging to this ambit is “narrated” by writeups listing what happens almost step by step, which is rather useless if not altogether ridiculous. La Casa and Sprod are, plain and simple, individuals who keep wide open ears: a good starting point to separate sensible cleverness from thickheaded braggadocio. Their methods to highlight the implicit narrative comprised by what the erudite populace calls “noise” are substantiated by numerous years of experience. It surely shows.
“Talking” about frequencies – a current trend in selected circles – is not really feasible without appearing pretentious, stupid, or both. In actuality, an evolved psychophysical entity detects, synthesizes and transmits frequencies, something that can’t be grasped by sensorially deprived big mouths. The work of La Casa and Sprod is not destined to that sort of people. They’re looking for the spirit of materiality, building knowledge from the ground towards the sky. Not vice versa.
Touching extremes, Massimo Ricci, Mars 2019 (https://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/eric-la-casa-eamon-sprod-friche-transition/?fbclid=IwAR2Per6oLlx3oF_y3P11lkwsKaXN0sKzCpCPkMrt0OUbiBt6rQYAIwvbgu0)