Lasse-Marc Riek: Saison Concrète
Semper Florens

Having listened to so many Gruenrekoder releases over the past couple of years, I automatically think of the label when I hear the name Lasse-Marc Riek, given that the Germany-born conceptual and sound artist is a founding member of the audio publishing company that since 2003 has issued all manner of splendid soundscapes, field recordings, and electroacoustic recordings. But let's not forget that he's a music producer in his own right, with his Saison Concrète release (500 CD copies) on the Russian Semper Florens label a recent example of his work. He might just as naturally have released it on Gruenrekoder, given its field recordings-based concept and design.

It's an uninterrupted, forty-four-minute acoustic rendering of the four seasons, an entire year's array of sounds condensed into a single, detail-packed soundscape. The material follows its own idiosyncratic journey, becoming explosive and turbulent during one episode and restful and pacifying the next, with Riek including sounds both literally evocative of nature elements and others more abstract and open to interpretation. Sounds flow together with nary a moment separating them, resulting in a fluid travelogue of ever-changing character.

Many of the sounds are, of course, derived from acoustic field recordings designed to reinforce the seasonal theme of the recording. Human and non-human forms interact alongside sounds associated with natural and industrial phenomena, with all of it artfully arranged and sequenced and Riek careful to not overwhelm the listener with too much detail at any given moment—though the total effect is psychotropic and even, at times, dizzying. Encountered during the trip: rain drizzle and thunder, assorted scrapes and creaks, a downpour so huge and violent it suggests a tsunami, the aggressive cries of birds, crowds of people talking, bell tones resounding, music boxes and cowbells tinkling, insect swarms buzzing, sheep bleating and dogs whimpering, machines and vehicles rumbling and rattling, and church bells ringing. Saison Concrète is so encompassing, in fact, it could be used as a prototype for collage-based field recordings-based projects of its kind, as a primer to introduce listeners new to the sound art genre, for example.

February 2012