Review

Joshua Meggitt, Cyclic Defrost, 19 juillet 2011

Widely praised as “utterly compelling musique concrete” upon its vinyl release in February, Nicolas Bernier’s usure.paysage now sees a limited CD issue with an added track. Bernier’s previously worked with electroacoustics in more performance-based settings but it’s here where he truly excels. Like a film editor Bernier demonstrates particular skill at concocting narrative from the disparate juxtaposition of sounds, but this is not his aim. Rather, sounds are forced to collide, conform and clash with their neighbours, creating unusual blends and hybrids with characters independent from their source. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The four-part work begins with an immediacy to be expected: short bursts of high-volume industrial noise, but this soon parts allowing for a richer array of sounds to be heard. Passing cars, horns, faint Arabic chant, amorphous bass rumble, the tinkering of sharp metallic objects, rasped wood; all carefully laid over a subdued bed of barely audible rustle and pockets of silence. These intersections are frequently thrilling: the frenzied blips and bell tones meeting the closing of an electric door heard midway through part 2’s Les chambres de l’atelier; the brief moments of looped activity riding over dub grey Tim Hecker haze; the shuffled gravel? snow? rice? of 10 passages. The bonus track k.krrkphsssPOW < paysage provides further evidence of Bernier’s knack for abstract sound, a pointillist collage of static tics and digital fizz proceeding along symphonic lines, more portentous but less convincing than the studied detachment of the title work.

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