Consciously Unconscious. Unconsciously Conscious.

Zbigniew Karkowski

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

Great, imaginative work. Vital, Pays-Bas

CD 3” (MKCD 033)

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Darren Bergstein, e/i magazine, no 2, 1 septembre 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.


Frans de Waard, Vital, no 344, 22 octobre 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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