Yannick Dauby: Wa Jie Meng Xun

In keeping with his own self-described approach, Yannick Dauby merges two markedly contrasting worlds in his work: field recordings-based nature sounds focusing on Taiwan's amphibian fauna coupled with modular synthesis performed at home and in private. Wa Jie Meng Xun thus offers an ideal illustration of Dauby's style and furthermore comes naturally to a sound artist born in the south of France but who since 2007 has lived and worked in Taiwan. The incorporation of manipulated amphibian sounds (i.e., frogs) into electroacoustic environments makes for an arresting listening experience, especially when what is presented at times suggest some natural-synthetic communion between living organisms and machines.

The amphibian sounds provide Dauby with an endlessly rich and varied resource with which to work, although it should also be noted that it's sometimes hard to differentiate between the deep-throated croaks and whirrs of the creatures and the sounds generated by Dauby's modular synthesizers and electronic gear—which might, after all, be the point he's most hoping to make. That such an indeterminacy arises doesn't prove unsatisfying, either, as the listener simply surrenders to the stimulation provided by an endlessly mutating stream of exotica. With Dauby presenting the material in two eighteen-minute sides rather than as indexed tracks, the material appears as a sequential flow of vignettes, most of them extremely dense in the number of layers of amphibian sounds that are in play at any given moment. In the multi-dimensional mix, synthesizer and animal sounds often function as lead voices while a thick mass burbles and chirps in the background.

While not music in the conventional sense, Wa Jie Meng Xun assumes a quasi-musical form at times, too, such that at one point on the second side the material even starts to resemble the playing of a gamelan ensemble. To his credit, Dauby strikes an effective balance on the recording (each of whose 250 copies includes three postcards showing photos taken by Dauby in Taiwan) between improvisation and structure and between playfulness and seriousness of purpose.

July 2013