Éric La Casa/Cédric Peyronnet - Zones Portuaires (Herbal International)

The number of sound sources available in large harbour areas such as Le Havre in France and Liège in Belgium is immense. The coexistence of natural elements, uninhabited areas and industrial areas allow for special and interesting audio captures. In most of these cases the captures originated in locations that relate to the presence of human activities. The recording of many of these captures in Zones Portuaires was structured by the daily work schedules that dominate the areas, and many were captured in places normally forbidden to the public. Eric La Casa and Cédric Peyronnet decided to work separately: the work is divided into two different CDs, the result of live events that took place in September 2010 at the PiedNu festival in Le Havre and in the Chapelle Saint-Roch in the beautiful francophone city capital of the Walloon region. In both cases, the results are really fascinating and the people at Herbal International (the label that produced this release) should be very pleased. The site-specific investigation is developed with extreme coherence and the complexity of the work generates additional value thanks to the quality of the sounds and sequences, which are wonderfully framed and subjected (apart from a few cases) to some light and refined editing. The passages are filled with several dilated recordings but also with different kinds of audio emergencies and sounds: echoes, overlaps, winces, etc. Although such techniques are common heritage of an artistic wave that has been defined in a very coherent and sensitive way, the touch of the author remains individual and perceptible. Aurelio Cianciotta Neural.it April 2014

C'est sous la forme d'un « double split » – chacun des artistes se réservant un des deux disques associés dans cet album en diptyque – qu’Eric La Casa et Cédric Peyronnet rendent compte d'un projet collaboratif mené au Havre (en mars 2010) et à Liège (en septembre la même année), entre ports et usines de recyclage. 

Bien loin des déambulations curieuses ou des promenades documentaires, leurs pièces respectives confinent, par un subtil travail de composition (condensation, agencement, progression), à de musicales et littérales évocations – tout comme leur cartographie sensible de La Creuse, publiée en 2008 par le même label. Si La Casa entre-tisse ses enregistrements, jouant d'une belle combinatoire des présences pour créer une prenante scénographie du sonore, Peyronnet extrait du matériau de quoi « écrire », comme dans le dernier volet de sa contribution, une suite où viennent éclore, dans la succession qui les dévoile puis les ravale, de poétiques instantanés ; assemblés, ils transportent. Guillaume Tarche @ le son du Grisli

Field recordings with a difference, a two-disc set, one given over to each musician. La Casa alternates two short tracks (less than two minutes) assembled from radio transmissions in the first case, with lengthier ones sculpted from urban/industrial parts of Le Havre and Liege. And "sculpted" is the word that comes to mind. Sometimes with a (welcome) axe. I talked with La Casa recently (he literally lives around the corner from me in Paris) and, among many other things, we spoke of the well-documented difficulties I have with trying to make qualitative judgments on field recordings (not to mention other stuff!), a matter he agrees with. In a recording like this one, part of the "solution" is the sheer plasticity of the sound, the very moldedness of it. But also, of course, the choices made and the resultant disjointed narrative aspect that obtains. It's determinedly man-made but with the kind of eerie resonances that are unexpected consequences of human activity, including a booming interior hollowness in otherwise varying spaces. The listener is very much carried along here, hurtling often, the drastic changes in dynamics causing one's "aural stomach" (!) to drop. The ferocity and quasi-mancing presence in the first long track is mitigated somewhat in the second, a greater concern shown for various textures sliding across one another, accompanied at moments by wonderful, ultra-low booms, muffled but powerful. I was absolutely absorbed by it. I may not be able to quantify it, but when it comes to field recording, this is what I'm talkin' about. 

The Peyronnet disc is something rather different. While it may have been constructed from the same source material (it was recorded in the same two cities, in the same year), Peyronnet seems to process the sounds more overtly than La Casa. The first two tracks, each about ten minutes long, are ok though they sound more or less like slightly less effective versions of those found on Disc One. But on the last track, Peyronnet lurches at right angles to his material, creating a vast, sighing drone that reams our space for six or seven minutes before expiring, leaving behind a empty, nighttime landscape in which you can discern soft footsteps and gently lapping water. Quite lovely. Matters settle down into an interesting kind of nondescript area, general sounds in a large space, maybe outside, machine engines and associated clatter leading to what sounds for all the world like a drumroll (I take it that it's not) shattering into soft rubble. A strange, otherwordly and very enjoyable piece.
A fine set, then, definitely worth checking out. Brian Olewnick, Just Outside, november 21st

The release seems to be a split release in which case both artists work with the same source material, being recordings from the harbors of Le Havre in France and Liege in Belgium. In Cedric Peyronnet's case it is said these recordings were used in a concert in those cities, which lead me to believe that he did those recordings and worked with them, and then asked LaCasa to work with the same recordings. I might be entirely wrong and maybe its a coincidence that both have recordings under their belt from the same cities. Of the two I started with La Casa, who is someone, and here I am guessing again, who uses field recordings pure as they are but mixes them together and not presents them as they are. This mixing leads to a soundscape and La Casa is a fine master of that particular trade, I'd say. Lots of resonating sounds - easily found in a harbor I would say - which La Casa waves together like drones, but suddenly break up with a swift change over in the sound world and starts building an entirely new piece, within the same piece. Somehow I don't think he uses any processing, but the multi-layered aspect of his sounds makes it sounds like so.
Peyronnet on the other hands seem to me someone who uses some sort of electronic/digital manipulation in his treatment of the sound material, even be it in the drastic equalization of the sound. In recent years Peyronnet, under the moniker Toy Bizarre, offered a variety of approach to field recordings (perhaps unlike La Casa, who seems to be more or less be using one technique, but extremely well) and this is also what we have here. Drastic equalization, short delay, maybe a bit of reverb, or perhaps more complex computer treatments which don't sound like that - which is always fine I should think. Whereas La Casa in his pieces separates Le Havre and Liege in strict pieces, Peyronnet easily blends it all together. Here we have some drone like approaches too, abrupt changes, but somehow it all seems to be a bit more abstract in approach, and works a bit less as a narrative. Having said that, it says nothing about the quality itself of course. In both cases we are dealing with some excellent soundscapes. Frans De Waard, Vital Weekly