The Squid's Ear Magazine

Narthex (Baron / Blairon): Formnction (Potlatch)

Saxophonist Marc Baron & bassist Loic Blairon recorded 6 improvisations and then recomposed and organized them into these two 30 minute works, one acoustic and one digital.

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Marc Baron-saxopone, electroacoustic compositions

Loic Blairon-doublebass, electroacoustic compositions

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UPC: 3491570000823

Label: Potlatch
Catalog ID: P209
Squidco Product Code: 12235

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: France
Packaging: Jewel tray, not sealed.
Recorded March-April, 2008.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

On The Process by Marc Baron & Loïc Blairon):

1. We record six improvised pieces of 30 minutes each, in six different locations, numbered in chronological order from 1 to 6. All pieces were recorded in France by our means.

2. The sound recording process is decided upon the listening experience we have in each location.

3. Each improvised piece is divided into six 5-minute long parts.

4. We make a 30-minute piece composed of six excerpts from the six improvised pieces. The first five minutes of the recomposed piece are extracted from improvised piece #1 (from 0:00 to 5:00) ; the next 5 minutes consist of another excerpt from improvised piece #2 (but from 5:00 to 10:00), and so forth. We thus achieve a 30-minute long instrumental piece, composed of six excerpts in chronological order.

5. We produce a 30-minute digital piece based on improvised piece #4, which we consider suitable for this purpose. The sounds of the saxophone (Marc Baron) and the double-bass (Loïc Blairon) are respectively replaced with 1000 and 500 Hz frequencies. The background noise is removed by digital noise cancellation.

6. The digital piece (-1) is the first track on the CD because we enjoy the listening experience it provides. We also like the reverse - starting with the acoustic piece (2) - and we recommend to try both.


"Musicians and composers are usually concerned about following or discovering a certain logic which would be internal and particular to the piece on which they are working. However, Formnction refuses this idea from the beginning. Its parts are put together without following inner material reasons. Like patchwork (or a quilt), the materials consist of unselected remnants from other pieces, and the focus is more on the shape or form that the authors wanted to construct with these 5 minute long excerpts than in what the excerpts themselves are. The musical content of these excerpts was not judged, and it seems that there were no predetermined expectations regarding what the final result would be.

Not judging the musical content of these excerpts makes any aim of essentialism immediately disappear. At the same time, the time entity "5 minutes" receives a special reality status, which doesn't depend on its content. It is now free to function differently, not in what it is but in the temporal relations it maintains with other entities. In this way, the "material" of the piece - or what we think it is - is ignored. The 5 minutes, understood as concrete pieces of time, become the sole material. Formnction is an attempt to take a step beyond the way we understand materiality. And this is confirmed not only in the first piece, which is a kind of diagram made out of simplified digitally generated media, but also in the acoustic piece, in which we also encounter a conversion in the material, but by other means (not by creating a diagram but by arbitrarily mutilating acoustic recordings).

But essentialism is not the only ideal compromised. Any aim of naturalism disappears too, because, although the pieces were not recorded in a studio, the site-specific work ideal is still broken since the pieces are arbitrarily cut and put together. In the acoustic piece, the audible characteristics of the surroundings where the pieces were recorded are reduced to the minimum needed for creating a clear understanding of passing from one excerpt to the other. The different surroundings express nothing else. The transitions are what should be heard, not the sounds. The same goes for the digital piece (even when we don't have the surroundings in it to help us understand the end of one excerpt and the beginning of the next).

In Formnction there is a shift in the normal idea of matter which makes time a completely strange entity. We imagine time as a container where events occur, or as a pure intellectual structure. But Formnction makes these interpretations unsatisfactory: time is taken out of these categories and we are pushed to experience it in its material dimension. The concept of matter is separated from the empirical (wasn't the empirical always the most abstract thing?), and once this happens, we have two new things: an empirical plan not constituted by materiality, and a new matter that has nothing to do with anything empirical. We are put somewhere else, left with questions that we are not sure we can answer; questions thrown to the future (the now). What is happening in between these 5-minute extracts? Why aren't we able to experience 5 minutes all at once? Would it be better to scratch this CD before playing it? And what about any other CD?"-Diego Chamy

Artist Biographies

"Marc Baron, Born in 1981 in France. Lives and composes music in Paris.

 Since 2008, Marc Baron composes music for loudspeakers using tapes and analog processes. This work takes the shape of acousmatics concerts, radio broadcast, records, installations or specific live performances. Some of his compositions and performances were played in Australia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Scotland, Canada.

Some solo albums were edited during the last decade : in 2010 and 2012 on the English and Malaysiens labels Cathnor Records and Theme Park ("∩" and " Une fois, chaque fois ", in 2014 on the French label Potlatch ("Hidden Tapes"), in 2015 on Glistening Examples (" Carnets ") and in 2016 (" Un salon au fond d'un lac ")."

-Cafe OTO (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Formnction -1 30:00

2. Formnction 2 30:00

Related Categories of Interest:

Electro-Acoustic Improv
Organized Sound and Sample Based Music
Improvised Music
lowercase, reductionist, micro-improv, sound improv, onkyo sound
Free Improvisation
Duo Recordings

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