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This is an excellent series of 3" CDs (ranging from 12 to 21 minutes long) in neat packaging, focussing on electro-acoustic and musique concrete composers (if your CD-player can't already cope with the 3" format, adaptors are readily available). Christine Groult's L'Heure Alors s'Incline, dedicated to Luigi Nono, is fourth in the series. It begins with washes of unidentifiable sound, almost ambient, evolving into a chaotic and potent sonic whirlpool, then through almost-giggling clusters of noise to an almost pastoral ending. As you'd expect, it makes most post-industrial noiseniks sound like children playing with squeaky plastic trumpets. It's a world away from Mue by Lionel Marchetti, which cuts-and-pastes pointillistic high-pitched vocals with all sorts of utterly weird electronic and recorded sounds, tape speed variations and crackles that sound a lot like fireworks in places. It's a much more adventurous work, unafraid to assault the listener and in places quite brain-mangling, although there's no doubt that most people will find it hard going.
Luc Ferrari's Unheimlich Schön comes from 1971 and is much more restrained than the Marchetti piece. It starts with the voice of Ilse Lau repeating the title, and as the verbal content of her voice is allowed to deteriorate, extraneous sounds like breathing come to the fore. The effect is interesting and reminiscent of Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting in a Room. From an even earlier date, 1930, comes German abstract film-maker Walter Ruttmann's Weekend. This is a very welcome illustration of how today's modish collagists and abstract sound-workers are really doing very little that is at all new. It combines speaking parts, sound effects and location recordings, and, although badly recorded and poorly put together, is a very interesting piece of history indeed.
Metamkine have also joined the throng of labels playing host to the music of Jim O'Rourke. His Rules of Reduction does all the things you'd expect, particularly in it's liking for dramatic contrasts between silence and noise, blending real instruments and field recordings (eg car horns) into a seemingly effortless sonic panorama.
All reviews by and © Brian Duguid.