Galerie Stratique: Faux World

Saying that Faux World's intricate, Orient-inspired pieces came about in unusual manner is rather huge understatement. For his third Galerie Stratique release (after 2001's Nothing Down-to-Earth and 2003's Horizzzons), Québec-based producer Charles-Émile Beullac first decided to set aside his customary tools (synthesizers and drums machines) to work with acoustic and concrete sounds that ultimately would be arranged using digital means. He and a percussionist friend jammed for three days using waterphones, ektaras, flutes, kalimbas, xylophones, tamboa, udus, tablas, darbouka, Chinese balls, and guiro as source instruments, after which Beullac generated a sample bank from the recorded results, extracted hundreds of loops from the sessions, and then assembled the materials into concise settings of exotic character. In some cases, he deployed particular scales (gamelan, for example) but primarily adopted a looser approach to the material's construction. By embracing atonality, micro-polyphony, and chance alignments (created by combining loops set at different speeds and pitches) as working strategies, Beullac liberated the material from adherence to existing styles or genres. His ear became the guiding determinant, and consequently what could have become overly complex and alienating instead turns out to be surprisingly accessible. Broken beats, field elements, intricate rhythms, and voices come together in multi-layered vignettes that inhabit exotic yet rootless zones. What one encounters are succinct statements of acoustic sound that conceivably could have been produced by a newly-discovered tribe cut off from other cultures for generations. Describing Faux World as “primitive” is superficial at best when the album's fifteen settings are neither primitive nor contemporary but rather both at the same time (the closing “Mirages rémanents,” to cite one instance, illustrates just how naturally the album's material straddles the two realms).

September 2008