belvédère dans l'étendue |cs058








































For 'Belvedere' the involved musicians were invited in one house. What happened in that house is clearly explained by Guionnet in the liner notes: "A bunch of all kinds of microphones are divided in the house and among the landscape around the place. Each of them is plugged into a mixing desk that Éric La Casa is using in real time. The duration of the mix is more or less pre-decided by the 4 of us. During this amount of time, the 3 instrumentalists are going around, in and out of the house, following their own improvised sounds and courses through this open expanse filled by sound-catchers √√ thus we all are working on the construction of a sort of abstract and tentacle-like belvedere plunged into the acoustic space of the place. This cd is the direct result of one of those mix-experiences."
Jean-Luc Guionnet crossed the house with his alto saxophone, Emmanuel Petit with his guitar and David Chiesa carried his double bass with him. If I understand the words of Guionnet correct the musicians did not interact with each other. It is Le Casa behind his mixing desk who blends the solo improvisations into one whole, completed with environmental sounds (birds from time to time). The result is a massive piece of 70 minutes. Yes, they do not only make a good use of space but also of time! Alas it is a very static and amorphe piece and because of this it fails to carry away the listener in the direction of its possibly aimed imagination or vision. Dolf Mulder (Vital)

Although there are several notable examples of what our Editor-In-Chief has dubbed "environmental improvisation", I can say without doubt that this is one of the most accomplished ones I've heard. Microphones were placed in and around the Villa Adriana, in the Ardèche department in southern France, home to a M. René Quinon (to whom the record is dedicated), each feeding a mixer sensitively manoeuvred by Eric La Casa, and the musicians walked in and out following their own instrumental signals, "working on the construction of a sort of an abstract and tentacle-like belvedere plunged into the acoustic space of the place". Amidst the ever wonderful singing of various kinds of birds and the unbelievably tuned buzz of the insects, listening to these rarefied sounds is a privilege. The most striking tones come from Guionnet, who explores resonant corners with his alto saxophone by playing long extracorporeal lines that send those auricular membranes into defence mode (all the while eliciting an interested response from some of his chirping buddies), until he ambles out and around with short staccato blasts that almost catch us by surprise, tiny smoke clouds which the gentle luminosity of the day turns into silky whispers of pliable truth. Chiesa's double bass is a house within the house, his bow murmuring on the strings with religious respect for silence, clicking microsounds like wood cracking and giving under the heat – picture an enlarged sonic photograph of Nikos Veliotis taken by Mark Dresser. Guitarist Petit remains barely visible, yet his feedback heightens the sense of tranquillity and excites wasps and flies, whose constant drone becomes a garden ceremony. Waves of charged string resonance – an infinitesimal fraction of Chatham/Branca-like turbulence – cross paths with Chiesa’s vibrational sensitivity and Guionnet’s ghost notes, skeletal textures reacting to the kind of magic that the Villa Adriana seems to transmit to the artists in their obscure evocation of inscrutable figures who approach, summoned by the sound, but remain too shy to show their handsome faces. The concluding dialogue between Guionnet, a passing plane and the forest voices is finally interrupted by a car stopping nearby, abruptly indicating that it's time to go. Too bad. Maximo Ricci (Paris Transatlantic)

Belvedere (CS 058) is the title of a single, 70-minute performance by guitarist Emmanuel Petit, alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet, bassist David Chiesa, and Eric La Casa wielding microphones and mixing desk. It seems similarly in methodology to an earlier disc, Metro Pré St. Gervais, where Guionnet and violinist Dan Warburton descended into the Paris subway with La Casa, who sculpted the environment and the improvisers’ sounds in real-time, the results of which themselves contributed to the overall sound. Here the musicians gathered into a single dwelling, moving about in its space throughout the duration of the piece, exploring its resonances and its limitations in ways so that the cumulative sounding out of this space is quite vivid. Part of the charm of this performance comes from the occasional “intrusion” from the outside – there is the flitting or chirping of birds and, right at the end, some passing trucks. Occasionally the musicians produces identifiable sounds – there are long tones from Guionnet, grumbling arco from Chiesa, spectral feedback from Petit – but in general it sounds like listening to wood grow, or like some organic Eliane Radigue piece. Guionnet is the most dominant voice, playing more demonstrably than the others do, altering his attack consistently – from a buzz to a warble to a shriek – while the others mutter and hum (only seldom coalescing in a tutti swell or giving way to some rough damage from contact mikes). Provocative. Jason Bivins (Bagatellen)

"Belvedere" is one of those site-specific improvised records that you tend to expect from soundmakers like Guionnet or La Casa, but it's surely quite different from the Afflux project. Recorded in 2003 in Villa Adriana, home of the late René Quinon, to whom the disc is dedicated, it features Guionnet at alto saxophone, Petit at guitar, David Chiesa at double bass and La Casa at microphones and mixing desk. The latter's "sound catching" activity was particularly important, as various mics were placed both inside and outside the house, to transform it, to quote Guionnet's liner notes, into "a sort of abstract and tentacle-like belvedere plunged into the acoustic space of the place". The performance is portrayed in this single 71-minute track. What does it sound like? Guionnet utters some painful high-end squeals throughout, while both the guitar and the double-bass opt for more minimal and sparse gestures, or subdued drones, and outdoor bird recordings are merged into the whole. [...] Sometimes in a constructive sense, sometimes not. It is often mysterious and even intimidating, but also has dead weight moments when it just sounds dull and repetitive. It is obviously a matter of subjective perception [duh!], but I think that 71 minutes of this are just too much; what is puzzling and mesmerizing in the first minutes gets boring when repeated for half an hour or so. At the same time, many passages are excellent. [...] Eugenio Maggi (Chain DLK)

So some notes this evening on another Creative Sources release, this one recorded all the way back in 2003 and released not that long after, but it is a new one to me, having got somewhat lost in the Creative Sources deluge of releases. the release is named belvedere dans l’étendue (belvedere in the expanse) and is a recording of David Chiesa, (bass) Jean-Luc Guionnet, (alto sax) Emmanuel Petit (guitar) and Eric La Casa, who, having set up microphones placed around and outside of the house in which the music was recorded, mixed these live into the recording we have here. The house in question is a small countryside abode situated in a village in the Ardeche region of France. As La Casa filtered in recordings of each room in the house and the wildlife outside of it, the other three musicians wandered slowly from room to room, playing on their own, sometimes within earshot of the others, sometimes not, sometimes close to a microphone, sometimes not.
Even without hearing the music I love this idea. Somehow I am reminded of the great new Andrea Neumann release I wrote about a few days back, in which other musicians playing in the same building unwittingly seeped into Neumann’s recording. No accidents here as such, though one wonders how much of the collaborative music we hear on the recording was intentional. One assumes that probably at least some of the musicians could hear what each other was doing at any one time, but maybe not all. The other thing about this release that makes it different to other straight improv recordings is the presence of the sound of wildlife throughout the disc, mainly birds and buzzing insects, but they are there on and off throughout. In fact when I first ripped this CD to my iPod it was without hearing it before, and I first listened to it as I stepped outside of my house on the way to work yesterday. The first thing you hear as the music fades up is the happy twittering of birds, which was also the main sound I could hear in my neighbourhood as I walked to work. Of course then I couldn’t tell which sounds were coming from where as I walked, which gave a nice touch to the experience.
As for the music itself well it is very much to my taste, quite sparse, very “2003? chamber-like improvisation. I am reminded somehow of the music of The Sealed Knot, even though there is absolutely no crossover of instrumentation at all between the groups. There are occasional swells of tonal sound, coming mainly I think from the sax and guitar, but most often we hear scraping, bowing, soft sounds, which are often beautifully blended by La Casa into the environmental sounds captured outside. There is one truly gorgeous moment at forty-five minutes when what sounds like guitar feedback is suddenly submerged under what sounds like a brief flurry of wind against an external mic, then a few seconds of fluttering sax before everything gives way to birdsong again. If this music had been composed and put together from separate recordings in post-production then it would be admirable, but the fact that is seems to have been mixed and recorded live from the different microphone feeds makes it even more impressive.
In places the music seems a little fragmented, and here and there certain sections seem to drag on a little, but this is inevitably a result of the way it was put together. What surprises me though is just how often it sounds “together” and the musicians seem to be playing together, which of course they might have been doing, but then again they might not. It is this fascinating structure that combines chance with deliberate action, which is all then in turn consciously composed on the spot by La Casa that makes this recording so intriguing and rewarding to listen to.
This is an older Creative Sources disc obviously. It is one of the ones I had originally contacted Ernesto Rodrigues about ordering from him because Guionnet’s music in particular has been of much interest to me lately, This matters not though, the disc is still available to order from the CS site. Another good Creative Sources release then that I would have been very happy to pay for. Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)

Pour commencer, qu'est-ce qu'un belvédère? en architecture c'est une sorte de terrasse panoramique établie pour admirer le paysage selon une certaine orientation. On comprendra vite le lien entre l'architecture et la musique proposée par ce quartet en regardant le dispositif d’enregistrement et de prise de son. A l'intérieur (et à l'extérieur) de la Villa Adriana, Eric La Casa a disposé plusieurs types de microphones (micro d'ambiance et instrumentaux) qui captent aussi bien les sons environnants que l'improvisation des trois musiciens. Le tout relié à une table où enregistrement et mixage se font en direct. Les musiciens - Jean-Luc Guionnet (saxophone alto), Emmanuel Petit (guitare) et David Chiesa (contrebasse) - peuvent ainsi se déplacer à l'intérieur d'une étendue plus vaste que d'habitude, le lieu d'enregistrement devient lieu de vie mobile.

Un dispositif qui permet le déplacement des musiciens d'un côté, mais aussi le déplacement de l'enregistrement, car ce sont aussi les microphones qui peuvent s'éloigner de la musique (via la table de mixage) pour mieux capter les sons environnants - oiseaux, voitures, insectes, etc. J'en oublierais presque la musique elle-même. Pour faire bref, il s'agit d'une seule improvisation de 70 minutes, une longue et lente improvisation, très espacée et aérée, constituée de sons aux bords de l'abstraction. Légers larsens à la guitare, cordes frottées longuement à la contrebasse, notes étirées au saxophone, quelques techniques étendues par moments (multiphoniques, acier dans les cordes) et des interventions brèves et brusques ponctuent et donnent un relief très intense à cette improvisation minimaliste et contemplative. Mais ici, forme et contenu sont inséparables et la musique elle-même n'est pas forcément plus intéressante que le dispositif d'enregistrement. Ce qui est envoutant, c'est avant tout la mise en espace du son, l'étroite collaboration et interaction entre le lieu, l'enregistrement et les musiciens. Une mise en espace qui parvient à considérablement modifier la perception de l'auditeur et à produire de nouvelles sensations inhabituelles pour les oreilles. Un travail riche où l'attention à l'espace et à la durée nous plonge dans des contrées perceptives nouvelles, où les techniques d'enregistrement et de mixage font enfin partie intégrante du processus musical. Julien Héraud (ImprovSphere)