Studio — Analogique — Numérique’s packaging alone screams “art”. It’s a trio of three-inch CDs, individually wrapped and presented in the sort of white box more typically used to deliver jewelry. The packaging creates a hell of an expectation for the contents. Depending on your level of tolerance for noise, Tétreault and Yoshihide live up to those expectations, for they have created an extremely thought-provoking collection of sounds.
Disc one, Studio, pairs the two for a quartet of avant-garde compositions — the first of which, Duo 2, combines feedback and pink noise to create a hearing test from hell. This crashes into the silent brick wall of Duo 4, an almost entirely sound-free four minute interlude. Duo 6 returns with static snippets, slamming doors and unsettling hints of human voices that slowly fade into the abstract tones of Duo 8. While the material amounts to little more than noise (or, if you prefer, thoughtfully-assembled acousmatic compositions), it’s purposeful noise that, when combined with the duo’s extended bursts of silence, creates distinct images of isolation and ruin. Maybe it’s not fun, but it is effective.
Disc two, Analogique, features Tétreault alone, exploring the ways in which he can use wind-sounds. This is no ambient recording, though; Tétreault begins with the gusting, otherworldly, analog howl from Duo 2 and puts it through its paces over five tracks (Analogique 5, 6, 4, 7, and 2, in that order). The key difference here is that he eliminates most of the surrounding sounds — no slamming doors or glitchy radios this time — stripping the piece of even distant connotations of humanity. Again, this may not be a lot of fun, but it’s an effective experiment, for, as the name implies, these manipulations are done in analog. To the non-techie, this means that all the changes in tone are achieved by hand, slowly twisting knobs and switching between reel-to-reel tape decks. Thus, through a thoroughly human process, Tétreault makes an alien statement.
The final disc, Numérique, contains a single, twenty minute remix by Yoshihide. Again, the title informs the process, for in contrast to Analogique’s construction, this piece was created digitally. It also contrasts with Tétreault’s solo disc, in that it lacks the tones and concentrates on percussion — or more precisely, on ticking clocks, falling girders and the generic sound of one thing smashing into another. Although it carries the “remix” tag, this is more indicative of the piece’s focus on these more atonal sound sources than explorations of actual rhythms. It may not be fun, but… well, you get the idea.
So if this trio of tiny CDs is not much fun, what’s the point? The pleasure here is an intellectual one, because the process of their creation reveals a lot about music. Analogique is all tone but lacks a human heartbeat. Numerique is all percussion but is devoid of emotional nuance. Analogique is created by grades — all instinct without precision. Numerique is the precise construction of quantified snippets with empty space in between. Only when these two sides come together for Studio do you get a sense of humanity, albeit a somewhat bleak one. We are tones set to rhythm, logic tempered by emotion. Music, as one of our most primal art forms, expresses these two sides of our souls as a seamless whole. By separating them, not only sonically but physically on two CDs, Tétreault and Yoshihide make a powerful statement that we work best when these aspects are combined. Thus, while Studio — Analogique — Numérique may not be something to throw in the stereo during your next party, it’s worth listening to when you have an hour (or several) to think.