Today was a nice day. I went out with Julie this evening, but for much of the day the town was held in the grips of a heavy thunderstorm, which sounded great but didn’t inspire me to venture outside of the house. So I spent the date writing, eating too much food and listening to a quite ridiculous amount of music. As well as spending time with a couple of demos and something I am hopefully to review for The Wire I gave a first spin to five other albums, choosing the one I am about to write about to play a few times more. Julie asked me tonight why I don’t get bored of listening to music all the time. I didn’t have an answer, and after thinking about it for a bit I still don’t. Anyway, have you noticed how I always edit these little insights into my mundane life out of the bit you see on the front page of the blog? Only the really dedicated readers that click through onto this page get to read them, though I am reliably informed that a fair few people read these bits and then don’t bother with the rest. Anyway, shut up Richard…
Seijiro Murayama and Eric La Casa released their duo album Supersedure through the excellent Hibari label early this year. Its one that has been sat here awaiting its turn to be investigated properly, and this disc is one of those occasions when I find myself cursing myself for having something so good sat on the shelf for so long without enjoying it. Murayama works with his now very familiar to me snare drum and objects on this CD, and La Casa is credited with microphones and field recordings. What I am not sure about is exactly how the music here was put together, whether it was created in a live situation, or produced in post production somehow. The sleevenotes inform us that the field recordings made by La Casa were collected between 1995 and 2007, and that the music was composed by Murayama and La Casa during 2006 and 2007. Les Instants Chavires get a mention on the sleeve as well, suggesting maybe a concert was recorded there, but no further details help us.
My guess is, after quite a bit of listening, that La Casa recorded Murayama playing solo, perhaps on a number of occasions and later the duo, or perhaps just La Casa, added the field recordings into the mix. I lean towards this way of thinking for a number of reasons. Firstly the way the percussion and recordings are merged is absolutely great. I just don’t think this could have been done live. Then there is a difference in the warmth of Murayama’s sound to La Casa’s, but then maybe as the percussion was recorded acoustically the field recordings could have been pulled from the P.A. mixing desk at the same event. As the five tracks here (titled Parts 1 to 5) progress though I become more convinced that at least some of this music has been created in the studio.
So what do we hear? Well Murayama works with his small textural sounds, an almost ritualistic rubbing and scratching with plenty of air left in the music, the occasional strike of the drum, and the echo of what sounds like a large empty room around him. (Maybe the recordings were made in an empty Instants Chavires?) There are then field recordings woven into the sound, sometimes gradually, slowly, sometimes coming in with a thud and leaving the same way. there also remains a fair amount of very quiet, empty, sometime silent passages. The field recordings all have a certain quality. We hear a lot of street sounds, passing traffic, rainswept streets, people shouting, calling to others, what sounds like an excited street festival. Then there are transport sounds, vehicles purring, railway station announcements, a fair amount of unidentifiable vaguely industrial sounding sound, and on several occasions we hear running water, which I assume was all recorded separately by La Casa, though the sleeve image to the CD, a drawing of a tap dripping water onto a snare drum might suggest otherwise. La Casa has always been able to record beautiful sounds, but it is his arrangement of them here that works so well for me. As a rumbling, whispery drum sound from Murayama might sit in the foreground, so the grey coloured shifts of sound from La Casa might flit in and out, responding the intensity of Murayama’s playing, perhaps suddenly cutting both dead to leave silence, perhaps switching from a distant recording to a close-up one in the blink of an ear, causing us to hear Murayama’s sound differently when juxtaposed with something different.
Blending field recordings into improvised music, either live or in post-production is hardly a new thing, and to be honest while an easy thing to do it rarely works well. Supersedure (is that a proper word?) succeeds in being one of the rare examples where it works very well indeed. Listening closely, either with the volume turned right up, or as I am doing right now as I type via headphones reveals so many details, either very distant room tones or the far off sounds of the city (not necessarily Paris as several English speaking voices appear- at one point I swear someone leans from a passing car and shouts “ah you gherkins!”) It is not just the details that make this music though, far from it. The way it is all structured, the decisions made to allow some field recordings to float alongside Murayama’s incredibly sensitive playing but then others to virtually crash in and out of proceedings are all spot on. The music is thoroughly engaging, really taking the listener along with it, at once both exciting and beautiful, sometimes incredibly calm, in other places, such as the rushing, tumbling sounds of Part 3 the duo match the scuttling rhythms of the percussion to similar speeding sounds taken from La Casa’s hard drive libraries.
This is fine stuff, as we might expect from Hibari, and a CD I have not seen mentioned very much despite it being available for a little while now. Available here, thoroughly recommended.
Richard Pinnell http://www.thewatchfulear.com/?p=3014
French audio mangler Eric La Casa has a good history in improvisation as well as more the more compositional area of sound art. He’s worked with Jean Luc Guinnet in projects including Afflux, as well as with Akio Suzuki and Philip Samartzis to name a few. And he serves as a similar foil to Murayama onSupersedure as Soundworm did onSpace and Place, but the results are far more astringent and often land on the side of punishing in comparison. Supersedure may, in fact, be a more exciting listen thanSpace and Place, just possibly not one to play while trying to escape the overblown shitstorm of modern life. La Casa is credited with “microphones and field recordings” and everything about this one is more up front. He pulls out segments of cars lurching past, honking trucks, crowds, sirens and alarms and affixes them to recordings of Murayama’s snare cracks and rubs. Soundworm seems to showcase Murayama’s playing far more in Sound and Place, emphasizing linear compositions albeit from constantly shifting angles; whereas La Casa is a more aggressive partner, often blowing out Murayama’s textures with a well placed siren or drunken soccer reveler and creating compositions out disparate elements. Don’t get me wrong, these sounds are not blatant cartoon sound library rips, and how the competing recordings come together is apt, cohesive and complimentary. The first track has one of the more fascinating beginnings I’ve heard lately — a smack on the snare, repeated disjointedly, then slathered with aqueous plumbing, hisses and whines at once surgically removed from context and then reconstituted into something else familiar but alien. It’s a feeling that is fostered almost the entire album, this familiarity and alarm– scuffed atmospherics, rain on the tarp of your tent, windshield wipers across your windshield as a drum is rubbed and prodded. No sound is sacred here, indeed. And as I listen to it, I’m reminded of the possibilities of music where inventiveness and aesthetics mingle in such great ways. No, it’s not perfect. There’s only so many field recordings of cars, subterranean vaults, jack hammering industrial detritus, and people’s screams one can listen to, integrate, and use. It lends itself to exhaustion and collapse, which one may argue could be part of the point. In this way Murayama is the antidote–his rubbed surfaces, hesitant strikes, percussive burrows are tremendously musical and integrate so seamlessly. In track 3 there’s a movement where Murayama’s clattering rolls fit almost perfectly with the sound of machinery clanking and whirring, almost to a point where one could miss his input if not paying close enough attention. Ultimately, I would rather be overwhelmed than moved to boredom and sloth. And Supersedure can certainly be overwhelming. But it’s powerful, inventive and wonderful stuff.http://aphidhair.wordpress.com/
Before I get too far I must say, it takes a lot to leave me dumbfounded. I have always favored esoteric music for its ability to suprise and delight me, but it is rather rare to be rendered totally speechless. All I can really say is what Seijiro Murayama & Éric La Casa have created with Supersedure is profound indeed. This is certainly one of those albums that goes beyond genre, beyond expectations, beyond any sort of classification what-so-ever. It should certainly appeal to fans of many genres, from electro-acoustic to modern classical, drone, free jazz, musique concrète, on and on. But it is not entirely any of the above.
If anything, it is more all of the above.
Being an avid follower of music utilizing field recordings, I should instantly suggest that other such fans stop what you may be doing, and take a listen to what Éric La Casa has done here. For a little while I have been aware that La Casa is one of the most respected figures in the field recording world, but must admit to never fully giving his work the same time and attention that I have to artists such as Jacob Kirkegaard or Chris Watson. I will likely find myself now filing back through his catalogue to see what I may have missed.
The formula for Supersedure seems simple enough on paper: Seijiro Murayama taking control of his favorite snare drum with undisclosed objects, then La Casa recording the whole bit and mixing in a generous portion of previously made field recordings. The result, however, is a mind-boggling offering, both compact and scattered, violent yet gentle, earthly and sublime. Here, the artists pay as much attention to density as they do silence. The music breathes, lives, it is born from primordial ooze, suffers the illusions of life and returns into death, calmly with no resistance or clinging.
I have taken my time with this one, up close, so not to miss a nuance of it. The music demands that of the listener. It is never obvious and not willing to give all its secrets away very easily. Rather, it begs you to take a journey with it through the cycles of arising and departing, and all the glorious surprises in between.
(zppaulz) 11/07/2011 http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/seijiro_murayama___eric_la_casa/supersedure/
Seijiro Murayama sur caisse claire et objets, Eric La Casa au micro ou en archives (fields recordings) : Supersedure consigne des compositions communes et autant de conversations à voix basse.
De là, filtrent des chants élevés au murmure que quelques soubresauts et leurs répliques infimes augmentent de riches effets. Sur le roulement subtil d’un tambour, une voix peut réclamer, une voiture se faire entendre ou une machine choisir de respirer. De haute lutte, la rencontre n’en est pas moins sereine : la complicité des deux intervenants laisse deviner qu’aux agissements mécaniques de l'un (frottement, battement, frôlement…) correspondent les propositions et choix sonores de l’autre : La Casa n'investissant jamais personnellement le champ du percussionniste, enfantant plutôt une population de parasites qui le fera à sa place avant d'organiser ses activités, qui en régiront la surface. Histoire peut-être d’émanciper l’art de Murayama de toute esthétique sclérosante et de la déposer plus loin des codes encore.
Guillaume Belhomme © Le son du grisli http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2011/01/18/20156541.html
Una lancia a favore a chi ha il nome ma non si fa parabola d’artista; produce ancora il suono con uno scopo preciso preferendo attestarsi su impressionismi e non sulla maniera.
La tecnica è pura, semplice e devota per suoni-oggetto, ricercati e plasmati tra field recording ed improvvisazione.
Materia prima e alla base delle teorie di Shaeffer, quella che qui -tra tecnica di auto-generazione timbriche, preesistenti, scolpite o guidate- gioca -per evidenze, ombre ed entrate di scena-secondo il principio del metodo scultoreo.
La qualità è tattile, le tessiture sonore respirano matericità e il suono conduce l’ascolto a compenetrare il silenzio.
Merito degli oggetti di Seijiro (cimbali, tamburi e rullanti) catturati dai microfoni di Eric ,che dell’ultima Dundee Law -tratta dall’uscita con la Room40 di Audible Geography – si porta dietro la teoria di fedeltà al suono, il potere delle registrazione e l’importanza dell’universo sonoro.
Diviso in cinque parti per un totale di quarantanove minuti in Supersedure tutto si fabbrica, tutto si improvvisa, senza badare al tempo ma facendosi d’essenziale la forma. Tra dialettiche ludico-colte e tra nozione e improvvisazione, Murayama ed Eric La Casa permettono di far entrare l’ascoltatore nei processi compositivi lasciando nello spazio -che sia in cuffia o in stereo- un’emozionalità che si raccoglie, si impasta e nulla lascia cadere a caso. Sara Bracco
The evening turned out into a great party. Everybody was satisfied. But what I did not expect was that so many of the local dancing audience decided to come to the museum next day to listen to the music. Now indeed experimental, they way you know it. And they stayed for hours, because they recognized for example Annette Krebs and others they had talked to and danced with. They did not find this music difficult, only different. And they felt at home.
Eric La Casa, yes he was part of the festival. All the evening he spent recording from different angles, even from the toilet or upstairs. And this is the result of his efforts, the first half being a kind of sound collage and the second being a recording of how the band sounded this evening. Then you have to imagine all the beer, wine, egg cakes, pork, salads for the vegetarians and dark south Swedish rye bread, that were also part of the evening. thomas Millroth, in Tomelilla