Laurent Perrier: As Far As
Sound On Probation

Pylône: Grounded Hands
Sound On Probation

Laurent Perrier pursues his own highly personalized vision on two releases, the first under his birth name and the second under the alias Pylône (he also records techno-related sounds under the name Zonk't). He created the first, As Far As, as music for the Alban Richard / Ensemble l'Abrupt choreographic show of the same name. Though it presents itself as an uninterrupted fifty-four-minute piece (which Perrier largely generated from classical music samples), it's separated into six indexed tracks on the CD. Track one plunges the listener into an ocean of smeary organ tones whose queasy flicker is turbulent though not so much that it induces sea-sickness. A gradual shift from organ to a broader orchestral sound develops, with particular emphasis on strings that retain the see-sawing wooziness of the organ playing. Further shifts find the music adjusting its focus (though not its back-and-forth approach) from strings to horns and then to choral voices. It's at the vocal stage of the piece that things turn nightmarish when a soprano's anguished voice wails alongside apocalyptic rumbles, string stabs, and convulsive choirs. A brief flurry of micro-insectile electronics follows, after which the strings return to guide the piece to a insistently churning close that's capped byv a bold flourish. In this shape-shifting trip, Perrier uses orchestral samples as material to be shaped, much as a carpenter might whittle wood into representational form. Naturally, one can't help but wonder what the dancers' onstage movements would be in concert with the music, though one guesses it might be slow and graceful at times and agitated and verging on out-of-control at others.

Grounded Hands is a different animal altogether. Here Perrier arranges sixty-eight minutes of Pylône material into five long-form settings, with three of them longer than ten minutes and two in the twenty-minute range (like As Far As, however, Grounded Hands unfolds as a single, continuous work). Perrier's Pylône sequel to 2006's Black Grains immerses the listener within laboratory-styled environments that suggest amplified recordings of an ant community furiously at work, the burrowing activity of nocturnal forest creatures, or the rapid metamorphoses of cellular materials taking place at the micro-level. Sampled in small doses, Perrier's collage of oft-seething and obsessive thrum, croaks, clicks, rumble, and murmur is fascinating enough, yet the Pylône recording proves to be the less satisfying of the releases for two reasons: uncompromising in its embrace of its particular concept, it's a ‘hard-core' recording whose sound-world is less easy to engage with than the one on As Far As; plus it's needlessly over-long, so much so that one's patience is tested over the long haul—forty-five to fifty minutes of this kind of material would be more digestible. Perhaps a better presentation would have been a vinyl album with the two sides given to the two long settings only.

December 2009