Mistpouffers is a selection of three compositions completed between 2014-16, composed by French artist and improviser eRikm. Each piece runs approximately 17-18 minutes in length with two based on 8-channel fixed medium and one in stereo. Opening with Draugalimur where, poof like smoke, the setting is a quiet distant storm, some electronic squiggles and free-floating static. This is eRikm working in an atmosphere where a pin could be heard dropping, that is until a narrator like a public radio host, in French, reads from a text. The wind howls and electro-waves are emitted. While listening I gaze upon the cover image of a cliffside that starts to resemble a human skull. No you are not seeing things, like a mirage — it’s an in-situ illusion, only emphasized by a military jet flying past, from ear to ear as someone gasps for air. This dichotomy between air space and breathlessness is likely key to the narrative. The eerie unexpectedness here is quite palpable.
Sonic boom? By occupying the space with layered field recordings, simple thing like chewing, and rummaging — with a silky drone and changing percussive parameters eRikm has developed a psycho-social space that is as inventive as it is cinematic. The whispers, the hive drone, the bouncing punctuation, all make his acoustic theatrics rife for live presentation, and perfect for visual listeners. Moving on to Poudre, which opens in darkness to creaking of chairs, or perhaps thunderclap or is it fireworks, or gunfire? The question mark here is the tension. With even the slight laughter heard int he mostly engaged crowd scene it would be menacing one way, and exhilarating another. But it seems to walk that fine line. The title translates to powder (and in gun powder) and this work does seem to float on air with the spirit of a nighttime curfew. It’s singular shots are disarming so to speak — “the bombs bursting in air” and so on. In wartime these echoes have a cerebral resonance that is unmistakable.
Just after midpoint this layered field recording sounds like either a grande finale or a full-on battle. It’s actually quite disturbing, it’s chaotic imprint, relentless. At one point it’s literally just a wash of savage white noise. But the reverie switches up its candor on L’aire de la Moure 2. There are shadows of a dark kingdom interrupted by a happily chirping winged beast. The intermittent grey drone casts and draws as these treated bird samples are deployed like abstract illusions. eRikm has concocted a blend of granular electronics, a female narrator and low flying planes that zoom from air shot. The tingling microsound invades as though it’s evaporating over the spoken word.
It’s an atonal radio play that seems to be collecting data in a laboratory. Small actions like pulling a topper from a cask, as well as elongated high tones create a focused format for deep listening — all ears on the speaker, and though I do not speak much français my ears can translate this as a scanner of the mind. Static like fire, and a series of slingshot thwapping are a peculiar combination alongside a deep bird caw. With so many constant variables you’d think this recording would be a schizo delusion but it’s not at all, it keeps your minds ear constantly pricked within this composer’s cosmic adventure.