One of the best pieces of writing about music I've ever read, anywhere, is Richard Pinnell's Sound American essay about Antoine Beuger's Keine Fernen Mehr, also on Wandelweiser. To say the album consists of Beuger whistling is to sell a profoundly moving and intimate experience painfully short. Pinnell's reaction is as personal and as profound as Beuger's infinitely simple vision. In essence, this collaboration between Bruno Duplant and Pierre Gerard lives in a similar space. It should; it's on Wandelweiser's label, but even more so than with other entries in that large catalog, it strikes a balance between timbre and hushed expression that I find intriguing and inviting.
The album's sound-world comprises what's called abstract voice, guitar, field recordings and percussion. In fact, the voice is the least abstract part about it if we can transcend our own limited ideas of syntax. The voice — or voices, as the album progresses — sing, quietly declaim and intone, all with a wonderful emotional import that bespeaks the heightened calm and awareness Pinnell describes when attending Wandelweiser performances. Listen at the 2-minute mark in the fourth untitled piece to hear some of what those voices do with interstitial delivery, awash in meaningful non-meaning, imbued with sound as sense in the overflowing sublimation when understanding is unencumbered by verbiage.
Beyond the voice, it is as if Webern had lived into the post-serialist age he pioneered, the reimagining of instrumental line he spent his last years perfecting on a large orchestral scale. Guitar and percussion are here lavished lightly, delicately, transparently but richly, occasionally peppered with field recordings so exquisite as to provoke spring-morning nostalgia equally poignant and immediate. The sound of a bird, no more than that, is injected into my listening space in a way that is at once three-dimensional and remarkably focused. These are not the immersive sounds of nature so often favored in meditative music. They are sounds creating a space in which to dwell, of contemplation and quiet reflection like that enjoyed by the long-fabled monk who, praying for a vision of Heaven, was entranced by the song of a bird as three centuries passed. An occasional tolling bell speaks of another dynamic world, but softly, without reticence.
Each guitar tone, percussive and vocal entrance is a building block and a point of light. If a bit of tongue clicking brings a smile toward the end of the road, it does not negate the experience of a cross-section without hierarchy. Personally speaking, this is a place in which I could live, inhabiting one sound and then another as they travel through whatever space they occupy, each one richer and clearer than before as I press repeat. Headphones and speakers are both ideal, and for anyone new to the Wandelweiser experience, there is no better place to begin.
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