Jean-Luc Guionnet
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Métro Pré Saint-Gervais

¬ Discographie ¬ Dispositifs

- Chloë - 002 - Marshfield - Usa - 2001
improvisations instrumentales & prise de son actives in situ - 2001
Dan Warburton (vl), Éric La Casa (pds) & Jean-Luc Guionnet (sa)


J’ai la mémoire de ce son, celui du métro parisien, bruits de portes qui claquent, sirènes, ce son lourd du metal on metal qui écrase plus sûrement qu’il emporte. Toujours ces mêmes sons, porteurs de cette angoisse du départ et de l’énigme de l’arrivée. Sons associés à la nuit, tout au moins à la lumière des néons concentrationnaires, au bout du tunnel les jours se ressemblant. Le souvenir aussi de quelques musiciens y faisant la manche, jouant rengaines ou répertoire classique, la distraction qu’ils apportent ou support à nos rêveries d’un ailleurs. La musique comme un autre transport. Curieux comme le temps se rétrécie alors. Ce disque est porteur d’histoire, mais à la façon des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard, image temps dépliée dans les différents " points de son " d’Eric La Casa, mixage entre métro, ces infimes histoires individuelles qui passent, happées par les micros et ces deux putains de grands instrumentistes qui creusent dans le son.
Creusent et ne jouent pas, comme s’ils ne voulaient pas rapporter d’autres histoires, leurs anecdotes à celles des passants, s’imposant de rester immobile
dans le son, de mettre en vibration ces zones d’ombre qui voient le passage des hommes. Il y a dans ce disque comme un montage cinéma, sans doute dû à la richesse de la vie et du surgissement de ses hasards, aux intuitions du trio, à la musicalité des microphonies de LA CASA. GUIONNET et WARBURTON tiennent des notes longues, maintiennent des unités de temps, y retiennent des voix, parlées, criées, stridences aussi. Curieux comme les micros redessinent l’espace, abolissent les plans pour les redistribuer autrement, devant/derrière, inversant les focales d’écoutes, des pas prenant autant d’ampleur que les souffles et les couacs du saxophone, instrumentalisés ou chosifiés à leurs tours. Voix d’annonces de la RATP, diva sans visage récitant sa poésie administrative, ritournelles inquiétantes, comme accompagnée par les intonarumori du métro disparaissant, reste quelques notes mourantes du violon et du saxophone. Ce disque parle de passage plus cruellement que beaucoup d’autres, il y aura forcément une fin au bout de cette nuit inversée, la poésie s’éteindra, les néons clignoteront seuls, les musiciens partis. L’histoire ne dit pas s’ils ont fait la manche et ce qu’ils auraient eu pour salaire de leur belle besogne. Michel HENRITZI, Revue & Corrigée n°55

Voir en ligne :sur le site de Eric La Casa

Another animal entirely is "Metro Pre Saint Gervais", recorded and performed in the Paris train station of the same name. English violinist Warburton (also a writer for the Wire and Signal to Noise) and the omnipresent Guionnet (here on alto sax) wandered around the train station with their instruments for an evening while Eric La Casa actively recorded the interactions between the duo and the station. In truth, the subway station itself makes this a quartet, since its peculiar gestures determine the nature of the sounds generated within. On this album, it can be heard interjecting bits of people’s conversation, as well as its own strange acoustics, implacable bells and clangs, incidental noises and (of course) the occasional train in such a way that it is playing exactly as much as the "players" are. One tone seems to reoccur, echoing through the space as a sort of chorus to unite the piece’s several sections. This odd tone is subtely quoted in Warburton and Guionnet’s playing, which La Casa uses to underline serendipitous moments (like when an escalator drone matches the saxophone’s pitch, or footsteps suggest a subtle rhythm, etc) into tense and concise compositions. La Casa is very concsious of the stereo field, as demonstrated in his pitting of violin against saxophone in opposing speakers, gradually pulled into the center just as a train arrives to obliterate the moment. Both instumentalists play into their environment, blending with and accentuating aspects of the found acoustic space, rather than simply overlaying improv onto environmental noises, which would have been obvious and boring.
There is a danger in this kind of sound work that the subject matter might be so opaque that it overshadows the music, but this trio seems to be aware of that. They have created a pure listening experience, in which the elements add up to a complete and thoughtful whole. Howard Stelzer, Intransitive records

You talk about atmospheric : Métro Pré Saint Gervais literally takes you to the netherworlds. Right from the onset, when Guionnet’s hollow alto combines with Warburton’s gentle violin drone and the faint sounds of an oncoming train to mirror the opening to Star Trek, there’s no doubt this will be an unsettling recording. Maybe everyone who’s ever ridden on a subway has felt it, the out-of-body strangeness resulting from those wonderful echoes as well as from being…well…deep below the surface of the Earth. It’s not there all the time, and it doesn’t just shout through your natural defenses, though. You have to listen with your whole body. That’s part of what these guys do, but they also amplify the weirdness by injecting something of their own inner lives into the mix. Those of you who are familiar with Mr. Warburton only from either his thoughtful and incisive writing on the contemporary music scene or his quick-fingered keyboard work on Return of the New Thing (Leo), may be surprised to find he is such an assured violinist. His work here is mainly understated and ethereal, but in the more frenetic passages, he may remind you of the higher degrees of light generated on the justly famous Muhal recording. La Casa’s role here is to handle and adjust the microphones to include, exclude, and produce announcements, chit chat, click-clack, engine roar, and feedback in allotments that will produce the most telling effects on the listener’s nervous system. With his help, each train arrival is turned into an event of the highest drama. Guionnet hisses, snorts and coos the way the most majestic trains have always managed to —sometimes invitingly, sometimes threateningly. His microtonal departures from both the underground ambience and Warburton’s eerie drones are also disturbingly effective. No question about it. There are monsters dwelling deep below the Paris Metro : you just have to be willing to flush them out and face the consequences. Walter Horn, signal to noise

This second Chloe release has its unique point : the research of acoustic space of the subway station in Paris. There were some traditional instruments used (violin and sax), but the major part of the acoustic space is occupied by vehicles, movements and humans walking here and there. There are even some dialogues (between musicians and passengers ?) If you are interested, I can tell you that I hardly can imagine all this situation. In Moscow, a city with more than 15 million residents, there is absolutely no escape from the crowd and especially in the subway, people get a move on and scurry about in all directions, just like in an ant hill. There are also some street musicians, but they frankly have a different repertoire... Well, back to music, it’s haunting and lost in its timeless beauty. Both long tracks sometimes reach the point where the instruments sounding like the amplified squeak of train brake shoes or moving stairways, strained to infinity. It make me feel that instruments are merging into environment sounds and bulding strange combinations you can’t identify. It seems that the purpose of musicians was, to dissolve completely in the vast subway space, and you see they were really succeed with it. I think it’s the merit of Eric La Casa’s unique approach to the environmental recordings - you may be familiar with him since his old band Syllyk. Now, he has devoted himself completely to field recordings, mostly natural. He is an aural photographer of the certain locations, and his main instrument is the microphone, as the performers of his music are water, wind, stones and trees. Dan Warburton plays violin and is going to release "Basement Tapes" album on David Tibet’s Durtro imprint, with percussionist Edward Perraud and free jazz legend Arthur Doyle. Jean-Luc Guionnet has contributed to plenty of projects as composer and instrumentalist, the styles of his works range from jazz to radio-performance. As far I know, this is their debut collaboration, and it should appeal to those who like to travel sitting in their armchairs at home.
As you might guess from the title, this was recorded in a Paris Métro station one night in July 2001 by violinist and Wire contributor Dan Warburton, alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet and microphonist Eric La Casa. This "environmental" music makes an interesting (and beautiful) study in advanced counterpoint : a counterpoint of proximities whose reverberant characters announce themselves subliminally yet resoundingly, and the temporal counterpoint between the slow, patient music makers and the spasmodic infusions of commuters and the trains that disgorge them.
The first piece is like an overture, introducing us to the sound characters and themes which are fully developed in the main movement. Morton Feldman’s ghost hovers for some fifteen minutes, as Warburton continually bows a low A on his violin while Guionnet repeats a multiphonic figure. At the 20 minute mark a train comes in and whooshes all that away, and the calm departs. La Casa parks himself under a nasty buzz, the musicians evaporate into whispers and clicks, and then a raft of industrial noises floods the chamber.
The train pulls away and Guionnet very cleverly retreats with it, while slap-tongueing Gustaffson-like thuds. Warburton goes nuts, flinging harmonic filigrees, a troupe of thrushes dancing on his strings. Near the very end the automated announcement reprises, and one realizes what would in real-time have been a tedious wait for a train has been filled by the apparition of these soundspaces in the tunnels, filling the dead time with a poetry of echoes, ghosts, vapors wafting away into the cool Paris night.
Tom Djll The Wire, December 2002

Late at night on July 10, 2001, Dan Warburton, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa entered a Métro station in Paris. Dan brought his violin and Jean-Luc his alto sax, while Eric took along his portable DAT recorder along with a stereo boom microphone. Together, they stood on the platform, they sat on the benches, they walked through passageways, they climbed and descended stairways, exploring the acoustics of this unique space. During their exploration, Eric seemed happy to bend a careful ear (and microphone) to the sounds around him, while Dan and Jean-Luc were not shy about making some sounds of their own. Dan’s violin cried with a gentle melancholy, giving the atmosphere a sense of seriousness, of larger things, things beyond the underground station. At other times it was playful, elastic. Jean-Luc’s alto sax complemented the seriousness of things, his subtle tones and unusual textures revealing surprises and, occasionally, dizzying frictions in the air. Eric’s microphone picked up on the late-night activity of the station, a tram coming and going, loudspeaker announcements, footsteps, fragments of conversations, echoes of invisible objects and, of course, the compelling instrumentations of his two companions. Later in his studio, Eric took these recordings and performed some edits and mastered a complete work in two tracks on disc. The disc was then picked up by Mike Bullock, who operates the Chloë label out of Marshfield, Massachusetts. He released it in the limited edition we have here. richard di santo, Incursion issue 062, 25 november 2002

This second Chloë release has its unique point : the research of acoustic space of the subway station in Paris. There were some traditional instruments used (violin and sax), but the major part of the acoustic space is occupied by vehicles movements and humans walking here and there. There are even some dialogues (between musicians and passengers ?) If you are interested, I can tell you that I hardly can imagine all this situation. In Moscow, the city with more than 15 Millions residents, there is absolutely no escape from the crowd and especially in the subway, people get a move on and scurry about in all directions, just like in the ant hill. There are also some street musicians, but they frankly have a different repertoire... Well, back to music, it’s haunting and lost in its timeless beauty. Both long tracks sometimes reach the point where the instruments sound like the amplified squeak of train brake shoes or moving stairways, strained to infinity. It make me feel that instruments are merging into environment sounds and bulding strange combinations you can’t identify. It seems that the purpose of musicians was, to dissolve completely in the vast subway space, and you see they really succeeded with it. I think it’s the merit of Eric La Casa’s unique approach to the environmental recordings - you may be familiar with him since his old band Syllyk. Now, he has devoted himself completely to field recordings, mostly natural. He is an aural photographer of the certain locations, and his main instrument is the microphone, as the performers of his music are water, wind, stones and trees. Dan Warburton is playing violin and going to release "Basement Tapes" album on David Tibet’s Durtro imprint, with percussionist Edward Perraud and free jazz legend Arthur Doyle. Jean-Luc Guionnet was contributed in plenty of the projects as composer and instrumentalist, the styles of his works are ranging from jazz to radio-performance. As far I know, this is their debut collaboration, and it should appeal to those who like to travel sitting on the chair at home.
Dmitry Vasilyev http://feedback.pisem.net/w_.htm#2

This trio follows an approach similar to Afflux (of which Jean-Luc Guionnet and Éric La Casa represent two thirds) : make a piece of a location. While Afflux uses electro-acoustic devices to interact with a specific location, here Guionnet and Dan Warburton play their respective alto sax and violin. Éric La Casa is recording while staying mobile (unless the musicians are the ones moving around, it is hard to tell). We are in a Paris subway station at a slow time of the day (or night ?). Subway trains coming and going and the conversations of passersby provide colors to the piece. Violin and saxophone are mostly used to produce fragile drones, especially in the first of these two untitled pieces. For the first three quarters of the album, the musicians let the subway tell its story, stepping in whenever things get dull. At times it sounds like a game of cat and mouse, the improvisers hiding the second a person walks by. Their more noise-based sounds (sax gurgles, string scratching) become the sounds of creatures crawling from under the bed when no-one is watching. At one point in the last 15 minutes, Warburton and Guionnet engage into a more vehement exchange, spicing things up before simmering down to long, quiet notes again and giving the subway a chance to reintegrate this unusual quartet. Recommended to Deep Listeners.
François Couture All Music Guide

You really can’t argue with the title of the more than 64-minute slice of musique concrète on Métro Pré Saint Gervais. That’s because Eric La Casa took his mics into the bowls of that Paris subway station and recorded French alto saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet and British violinist Dan Warburton improvising in real time right on the subway platform.
As the disc rotates you see how well the two improvisers react to the found sound around them, including the noisy arrival and the departure of the Métro trains, buzzes of mechanized noises, announcements blaring from the sound system, passing footfalls and crowd noises and snatches of cross talk from the passengers — men, women and children, French and foreign.
Not official musique concrète, by not eschewing instruments, Métro also shares characteristics with so-called ambient music, if that description hasn’t fallen into disfavor after too many anemic genre CDs. Warburton and Guionnet aren’t bloodless by any means, though the blend of their instruments’ tones is often given a unique bathroom resonance by the ghostly subway acoustics. Most of the time it’s the violinist’s arco La Monte Young-style drone that serves as the leitmotif. String sounds also underline loudspeaker announcements, and comment on passing conversations or turning subway wheels. Ken Waxman http://www.jazzweekly.com/reviews/warburton_metro.htm

"The Parisian Metro has long attracted artists, writers and musicians : Joseph Beuys spent his honeymoon riding the subways of the French capital ; Queneau and Cortazar were fascinated by the sociology of its interconnecting networks ; and countless millions of travellers – tourists and local residents - have experienced its unique atmosphere and acoustics."
This overall brilliant release documenting the serendipitous melding and blurring of improvised violin (performed by Dan Warburton) and alto saxophone (Jean-Luc Guionnet) with happenstance occurrences and ambiences from within the underground subway station, Metro Pre Saint Gervais in Paris, at times sounds like it was composed and mixed in a studio, when in fact, it was wonderfully recorded live by sound artist Eric La Casa.
Beautiful long acoustic drones, oscillations, twitterings, and yes, the occasional squawks and squeaks, all mixing and flowing in tune, timbre, and meter with various day to day workings of the subway station. The spontaneous voice-overs and underpinnings by various passers by and the subway employees talking over the intercom system evoke the sense that these recordings could have been well controlled electroacoustic compositions or cleverly made sound designs for film, TV and radio.
This release presents two recordings, both made on July 10th, 2001, that manage to capture what I can only imagine to be a perfect example of what most improvising musicians dream about having properly documented under such circumstances.
Dale Lloyd for http://www.fallt.com/array/reviews/metro.html