Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) Lionel Marchetti

Cover art: Alfred Fauvarque-Omez, Le passage à niveau (1928)

… a bracing and unsettling composition… Musicworks, Canada

… wonderful Metamkine label continues to release works by artists mining a territory of seemingly limitless aural vistas. e/i magazine, USA

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Train de nuit (Noord 3-683)

Lionel Marchetti

  • CD 3"
    MKCD 029
    Out of print

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In the press

Concrète Homage to Schaeffer

Chris Kennedy, Musicworks, no. 90, October 1, 2004

Lionel Marchetti’s work is primarily devoted to building on the legacy of musique concrète, bringing its techniques with him into the new century. Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) continues this pursuit. Dedicated to concrète pioneer Pierre Schaeffer, it even incorporates the train whistle from Schaeffer’s 1948 piece, Étude aux chemins de fer, as a recurring theme. However, Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) is no easy look into the past. Instead, it is a bracing and unsettling composition - a true cinema for the ear that brings the listener through a disruptive nocturnal slumber.

Although the sounds of train travel fade in and out of the music, the main propulsion of the piece comes out of an interlocking structure of tape collage: shortwave radio snippets, dramatic readings, white noise, and other transitive listening events. Marchetti creates a drama of expectation as barely audible whispers and sound samples are interrupted by thunderous tape splices, resonating piano keys or ominous metallic noises. Marchetti hones the piece into sharp focus by mastering the music in uncompressed mono, isolating it in the left-hand speaker, and allowing ample play between extremes of volume. As a consequence, the cumulative soundtrack pulls you into the quiet moments between jarring explosions of activity.

As a whole, the twenty-minute composition develops into a disturbing portrait of nighttime train travel. The passing snippets of sound create the illusion of a train barrelling through sleepy countrytowns on its way to its final destination. Like a fitful sleep, the listener is lulled into a calm slumber before being jolted awake by the foreign sounds of machinery, as the rough journey constantly surges forward towards the dawn.

… a bracing and unsettling composition…

Review

Darren Bergstein, e/i magazine, no. 2, September 1, 2003

Besides being home to the IRCAM thinktank and pioneers Luc Ferrari and Pierre Schaeffer, France’s place in the history of electroacoustic music and musique concrète is long-deserved. The country’s wonderful Metamkine label continues to release works by artists mining a territory of seemingly limitless aural vistas. Tracking the diversity of their artists, four recent recordings in the label’s series of 20-minute, 3" CDs (tucked away in sharply designed, signature minisleeves) all appear as fragile little artworks inside and out. Michele Bokanowski’s L’étoile absinthe telegraphs sounds mock-symphonic and synthetic, a chamber orchestra lost in a perilous forest of preening strings and stoic electronic hushes, while underfoot the scent of something vaguely sinister beckons. Quite episodic despite it’s length, it effectively broaches an impressive personal dialogue with the listener. Over the course of Dix-sept minutes, Michel Chion deleteriously excavates the musique right out of its concrete, isolating the ear in a toybox of half-heard chorales, defective thermostats, and wristwatch dementia. Sounds are deliberately placed in a stereoheld that makes full use of their color spectrum, yet Chion misplaces his narrative in the execution, yielding phantasmagoric ‘sound-art’ that suffers from incidentalism. No such problem with Zbigniew Karkowski, noisenik and agent provocateur. Consciously Unconscious. Unconsciously Conscious prefers you bask in the pulse of transformer electricity, a series of galvanic hums whose amperage is further rubbed, tweaked and massaged into drones of glorious wow and flutter. Invasive, and in a masterful way. Illustrated amply enough on Train de nuit, collagist Lionel Marchetti moves effortlessly between parallel worlds of experimentation and ephemera. At first, it appears he has stumbled upon a long-lost soundtrack to a François Truffaut film, the scampering of petite footsteps on cobblestones echoing the bleak vision of 400 Blows. Such a fertile beginning unfortunately gives way to abstract constructivism that, while superficially interesting, fails to gel into an engaging whole. On both geographic and musical fronts, history has demonstrated that reunification is often a good thing.

… wonderful Metamkine label continues to release works by artists mining a territory of seemingly limitless aural vistas.

Sounds Around: Field Recordings in Electroacoustics

David Turgeon, electrocd.com, June 1, 2003

Field recordings have always fascinated electroacoustic composers, ever since Pierre Schaeffer’s Cinq études de bruits (1948), featuring processed train sounds. With R Murray Schafer’s Vancouver Soundscape 1973 (1972-73), these everyday sounds are articulated around a discourse which will be termed “sound ecology,” whereby sounds keep their original meaning, and no longer serve as anecdotic content to be used and abused at the composer’s whim. Jonty Harrison synthesises these two approaches in his short text {cnotice:imed_0052-0001/About Évidence matérielle/cnotice}.

Actually, every composer seems to have their own unique approach towards field recordings. If sound ecology has seen the burgeoning of microphone artists such as Claude Schryer and of course Hildegard Westerkamp and her famous {cpiste:imed_9631-1.3/Kits Beach Soundwalk/cpiste} (1989), sound travels such as French duo Kristoff K Roll’s CD Corazón Road (1993) are, in this respect, closer to the art of documentary film. Meanwhile, Brooklyn-based composer Jon Hudak starts off with an extremely minimalist palette so as to seek out the “essence” of sounds, which, to the listener, translate into soft, dreamy soundscapes. A student of the aforementioned Jonty Harrison, Natasha Barrett conceives beautiful landscapes of sounds with very discreet field recordings, that retain an aesthetic likeness to the acousmatic tradition.

Many young composers settle into this landscape (of sound…) and their work is of such interest to us, it would be a shame not to let them be heard. We shall first mention the California-based V. V. (real name Ven Voisey), who organises his found sounds into an architecture reminescent of “old school” musique concrète—doing so, he uncovers a previously unheard aesthetic affinity between Schaeffer and Merzbow… With Relisten, Austrian composer Bernhard Gal guides us through his carefully selected episodes of “found musics” (that is, musical structures that preexist within the environment.) Finally, because of its numerous ideas and its incredible pacing, the surprising flume ridge.halifax.lisbon (2001) from Montréal composer Cal Crawford will undoubtedly seduce listeners looking for unheard acousmatic grounds.

Two small treats to end with. First, the pretty Aenviron: one mini-CDR is a simple thread of five pure field recordings (with no processing!). After all, if there is such a thing as cinema for the ear, why shouldn’t there be a photo album for the ear! And to close the loop, may we also suggest to make a stop at Lionel Marchetti’s recent mini-CD with the evocative title, Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) (1998-99). This work for one loudspeaker, dedicated (couldn’t you guess?) to Pierre Schaeffer, remind us again of the ever renewed importance of environmental sources in feeding the electroacoustic ocean.

Review

John Gibson, Grooves, no. 10, May 1, 2003

A self-taught Parisian musique concrète composer, Marchetti pays homage to the pioneering days of that movement with an affectionate piece that honours Pierre Schaeffer. Constructed largely from samples of locomotives and designed specifically to be played in mono, this sparse, 20-minute piece might well be intended to evoke the image of a ghost train, rather than a simple overnight ride. Voices, where they do appear, seem eerily fractured, much of the train sampling is affected with a disorienting echo and reverb, or else sounds distant. There’s even a sample from the late Jim Morrison at around the 12-minute mark.

Probably intended as an acknowledgment that past eras can never be accurately recreated in the present, Train de nuit (Noord 3-683) is unsettling and well worth a listen.

… unsettling and well worth a listen.…

Review

Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 344, October 22, 2002

It’s good to see that this series has new life, after the two recent ones, here are two more issues, in what is now a 30 some mini CD’s of electroaoustic and musique concrète. Zbigniew Karkowski is of course well-known, at least in these virtual pages. His music is violent, loud and harsh, and is already released on many labels around the world. This piece, on the cover noted as musique concrète, is mostly a long, low range frequency piece. Musique concrète… what’s the concrete part of it? Hard to recognize the original, concrete source here, as it seems to me that Karkowski is working with sine waves that have been treated in the studio. But this aside, it’s a nice piece of low end hum that has a strong presence in the space you’re in. The walls vibrate and seem to collapse under this set of sounds. It’s harshness for sure, but one that is different from the usual harshness. Zen like austerity is what we are dealing with here.

The other new 3" is by Lionel Marchetti, his second one in the series. Recentely Marchetti released a whole bunch of works on various labels, such as ground fault and Erewhon. This work is dedicated to Pierre Schaeffer, the grandfather/inventor of concrete music. His first piece delt with train sounds, so Marchetti by return goes back to train sounds too. It’s a piece for one loudspeaker, thus glorifying the early days of musique concrète. Sounds from trains aswell as sounds from journeys and travelling make up this piece. There is even a short sample of the Étude aux chemin de fer from Schaeffer to be heard. The resultant piece, in two parts, is a fine collage of train sounds, most of the times to be recognized by their flute signals and people talking, music from walkmans etc - all of those daily sounds that are so connected by going on trains. Great, imaginative work.

Great, imaginative work.

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