d’incise · im/permeability

d’incise · im/permeability

Improviser and composer Laurent Peter - one half of Diatribes, co-ordinator of the Insub Meta Orchestra and co-curator of the Insubordinations label - has been a important figure in the Swiss Experimental scene for some years now. This new solo composition, although assembled from studio recordings, conjures gurgling volcanic pools, teeming with myriad amphibians and insects.


Apparently this is D'incise week on Just Outside, though this is a very different work from the one written about in my prior post. "Composed from recordings of sparkling liquids and gases", "Impermeability" is quite clearly just that. Most of the sounds, apparently presented several plies thick, are recognizable to those of us (everyone?) who have spent some moments delighted by the bubbling of sodas or the delicate expulsion of gases (all such recorded eruptions heard here are delicate!) from various sources. Even though the sounds derive from unrelated phenomenon, it's tough not to think of Lee Patterson's "Egg Fry #2" on Cathnor, but that had a single-minded focus which isn't the case or point here as D'incise is constructing his work much as is done routinely with field recordings. It's funny, but sometimes I even have the sense of a kind of gestural playing here, when one of the gases erupts in a bit of a flourish, like an errant saxophone...Finally, while entirely listenable, I find that I'd rather hear fewer sounds, with more concentration, than the cascade arrayed here. Still, it works well enough by its own lights and is an enjoyably fizzy quaff.

d’incise is a Swiss musician who also coordinates the label INSUB. His new release on Consumer Waste is made from recordings of sparkling liquids and gases, ranging from the instantly recognisable (the brief burst of hiss heard when opening a bottle or can of fizzy drink, the continuous fizzing of the same sat in a glass) to much more anonymous and inscrutable noises. The vast majority of the sounds occupy the same mid-to-high end of the frequency spectrum, and are similarly quite low in amplitude and narrow in bandwidth, yet a wide variety of crackles, fizzes, pops, hisses, gurgles, chinks, and whooshes can be heard.

The single long track is no mere illustrated guide to the carbonated sound world, however: rather than simply present the recordings as objects of acoustic curiosity, the piece seeks to set them out in a way that makes musical sense. Things start very quietly, and remain so for some time, but gradually the level of activity begins to rise, reaching some sort of climax before gently fading away again. The narrowband nature of the sounds means that despite the wide dynamic range of the piece, the overall volume never goes much louder than mezzo-forte; although often intricate, the layering of different sounds of similar pitches doesn’t get too cluttered due to the wide variety of timbres. These classic devices — structure, dynamics, timbral contrast — serve to continually underline the musical intentions of the work.

If anything, I would perhaps have preferred these intentions to have been more ambiguous, and the structure to have been more influenced by the recorded objects; one could imagine, for example, the opening, pouring, and settling of drink constituting a basic structural unit. It’s a question of striking a balance between the will of the composer(s) and that of the material; judging that balance often comes down to convention and personal preference as much as anything. As with all of Consumer Waste’s forays into unusual instrumentations, however, “im/permeability” never feels like a gimmick, nor a sound collector’s slideshow. Rather, the piece unfolds a linear narrative that effectively impresses itself on the listener, the enticing sounds channelled into an eminently musical flow.

Two quite different releases on Consumer Waste, but both of them in their usual very nicely home spun letterpress covers, and both in an edition of 100 copies.

On the first release we find D’Incise from Switzerland, who by now has a nice impressive list of releases to show, and on this new one, he has one piece of music, that lasts very close to forty minutes and is ‘composed from recordings of sparkling liquids and gases’. When I started this, I thought these were long wave radio sounds, not too dissimilar to the earliest works of Disinformation. I assume all of these sounds are sampled (computer no doubt) and treated, one way or another. It’s not always easy to say to what extend these sounds are treated and what exactly is the original; I believe some of the original sounds are still included in this. It bubbles, fizzes, sparkles and it sound like being a chemistry lab. Gasses all around you, and these flasks - or whatever they are called; I failed hopelessly on chemistry in my school days - emitting clouds and sparks of liquid are all around you. A high pressure-cooking buzz of music. At a few points you can easily tell that it is highly processed - towards the end for instance. Despite the fact that it’s one idea, I must say I very much enjoyed this work. It’s very conceptual, but highly listenable and with a great amount of variation in all of these sounds being treated and played, mixing them together with the original recordings. You may pardon my pun, but there is a fine chemistry in this music! A great release by D’Incise, one of his best so far.