Silencio: Where You Are and Where You Want To Be

Given that Where You Are And Where You Want To Be's field recordings were taped on location and that its three long settings are titled “Oslo,” “Copenhagen,” and “Berlin” (the album itself was recorded in Frankfurt in August 2006), it hardly surprises that the new album, Silencio's third full-length and first North American release, so strongly evokes geographical space. As Julien Demoulin and Nicolas Lecocq demonstrated on 2005's Grünezeit, the duo possesses a talent for crafting becalmed soundscaping—the closing minutes of “Oslo,” with its delicately calibrated arrangement of piano, guitar, and electronics, is especially lovely—but a generous portion of the disc's content is given to field recordings. Most are aural documents of public settings where speaking voices are heard surrounded by the ambient noise one associates with a busy train station or city street.

Demoulin and Lecocq weave the disparate sound sources—glockenspiels, piano, organ, found sounds, pastoral acoustic guitar—into scenic, wide-ranging journeys that guide one through peaceful countrysides and hyperactive metropolises. However compelling the separate elements are as fragments, they assume greater force when arranged into the three long-form settings, with elements at times alternating and at other times assembled into densely layered constructions. The pieces unfold organically and unhurriedly, and the duo admirably treats the material with patience and restraint. Among the album's more memorable moments is the sleepy instrumental coda in “Copenhagen,” which gives Florence Bizette's mournful violin an affecting spotlight, and the intro to “Berlin,” which manages to be both meandering and magical, perhaps because it transcribes so convincingly stream-of-consciousness into aural form. If there's one thing about the album that becomes repetitious, it's Silencio's tendency to end each piece with ambient placidity—not that that in itself is so terribly objectionable.

May 2007