Potlach â€“ Paris - France - 2007
improvisation instrumentale â€” quatuor de saxophones :
Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board) & Jean-Luc Guionnet (sa & orgue)
Un duo franco-japonais dresse une rassurante carte des tÃ©nÃ¨bres. Guitariste passÃ© Ã la musique Ã©lectronique â€“ dÃ©fendue derriÃ¨re une Ã©trange console qu’il appelle Â« no-input mixing board Â » â€“ Toshimaru Nakamura est aussi un improvisateur sensible, partenaire remarquÃ© du guitariste Otomo Yoshihide, du saxophoniste John Butcher ou du trompettiste Axel DÃ¶rner. Sur MAP, voici qu’il improvise avec un autre souffleur : Jean-Luc Guionnet, saxophoniste franÃ§ais qui aura participÃ© ces derniers temps Ã quelques enregistrements de taille (Propagations et [On], disques sortis respectivement sur les labels Potlatch et In Situ).
Sur MAP, Nakamura et Guionnet confectionnent sur l’instant une ambient Ã la subtilitÃ© provocante, qui oppose quelques sifflements Ã©lectroniques aux plaintes haletantes de l’alto avant de prendre une allure plus fragile, qui dÃ©cide, pour s’en sortir, de multiplier les fulgurances Ã©lectroacoustiques : grÃ©sillements, larsens et bourdons divers contre motifs rÃ©pÃ©tÃ©s au saxophone. Ici ou lÃ , des pauses commandent un silence rÃ©parateur, avant que l’instinct de vie des deux musiciens ne reprenne le dessus. En conclusion, Guionnet passe Ã l’orgue, y fourre quelques angoisses bruitistes dans le sillage de Charlemagne Palestine. Au final, une musique Ã©lectroacoustique dont l’expÃ©rimentation est loin d’Ãªtre hermÃ©tique, prenant plutÃ´t les atours charmants d’une ambient dÃ©rangÃ©e.
Guillaume Belhomme l Volume l Juillet 2008
Chacun de leur cÃ´tÃ©, Jean-Luc Guionnet et Toshimaru Nakamura sillonnent depuis plusieurs annÃ©es les terres de lâ€™improvisation Ã©lectro-acoustique. Leurs trajectoires ont logiquement fini par se croiser et le fruit de leur rencontre voit Ã prÃ©sent le jour sur le label Potlatch. A peine formÃ©, le duo nous offre un premier disque tout en subtilitÃ© et en tension.
AprÃ¨s Propagations, Jean-Luc Guionnet prolonge ici son mandat chez Potlatch. Dans la continuitÃ© de son effort prÃ©cÃ©dent, il explore les bornes du spectre sonore avec son saxophone alto, du souffle granulaire aux ultra-frÃ©quences. Un langage dâ€™une grande sobriÃ©tÃ© qui se construit avec lenteur et qui laisse beaucoup dâ€™espace Ã lâ€™expression musicale de son acolyte, Toshimaru Nakamura. Acteur incontournable de la scÃ¨ne Ã©lectronique minimale, celui-ci se concentre exclusivement sur le traitement du signal gÃ©nÃ©rÃ© par sa table de mixage en circuit fermÃ©. Une approche quâ€™il nâ€™a eu de cesse de peaufiner au grÃ© de partenariats rÃ©guliers avec Jason Kahn, Sachiko M ou Keith Rowe. Câ€™est dâ€™ailleurs souvent en duo quâ€™il se rÃ©vÃ¨le, fort dâ€™une rÃ©activitÃ© intuitive vis-Ã -vis du matÃ©riau sonore dâ€™autrui. A cet Ã©gard, la combinaison avec Guionnet fonctionne plutÃ´t bien et on note chez les deux une similaritÃ© dâ€™approche : immense prÃ©caution dans lâ€™initiative et rÃ©flexion centrale sur le timbre et la durÃ©e.
Le dialogue sâ€™instaure trÃ¨s progressivement au cours des trois premiers titres : apports discrets qui troublent Ã peine le silence, sifflements Ã©lectroniques qui se transforment en ruminations organiques, slaps du saxophone faisant Ã©cho aux grÃ©sillements des circuits, craquements micro-percussifs interrompus par des dÃ©charges fulgurantesâ€¦ Cinquante minutes plus tard, on dÃ©couvre avec stupeur que tout nâ€™avait pas encore Ã©tÃ© dit. Pour la piÃ¨ce finale, JLG passe en effet Ã la tuyauterie grand format en sâ€™emparant de lâ€™orgue de lâ€™Ã©glise Sainte-Croix de Parthenay ! Une ampleur de registre que Nakamura parvient magistralement Ã contrebalancer en ne limitant plus la fÃ©rocitÃ© de ses attaques. A elles seules, ces monumentales 23 derniÃ¨res minutes rendent ce disque Ã la fois singulier et essentiel.
Jean-Claude Gevrey l Octopus l Avril 2008
A Ã©couter et rÃ©Ã©couter MAP de Jean-Luc Guionnet (as, org) et Toshimaru Nakamura (table de mixage sans entrÃ©e), on trouve Ã satisfaire â€“ comme avec certaines toiles de DebrÃ© en grands frottements unis que viennent perturber des concrÃ©tions de matiÃ¨re colorÃ©e â€“ non seulement son goÃ »t pour une certaine rarÃ©faction mais aussi et peut-Ãªtre davantage son intÃ©rÃªt pour des espaces froissÃ©s, chiffonnÃ©s, percÃ©s dâ€™incroyables trouÃ©es ; ces accrocs dans le tissu rendent ce dernier perceptible, font monter les plans sonores les plus divers et basculer les univers vers de nouveaux degrÃ©s dâ€™abrasion.
Des duos de Nakamura avec souffleur [dont Butcher ou Capece], celui-ci est certainement le plus Â« humainÂ » dans certaines de ses extrÃ©mitÃ©s physiques, ce qui peut surprendre dans un Ã©change avec une machine bouclÃ©e sur elle-mÃªmeâ€¦ mais Ã©galement le moins Â« flatteur Â », car la tentation un peu design que ladite no input mixing board pourrait entraÃ®ner est Ã©cartÃ©e : pas dâ€™Ã©pure complaisante dans ces quatre improvisations mais des mappemondes fissurÃ©es, des flux chuintants, des traÃ®nÃ©es Ã©lectriques refendues, des nodositÃ©s de sons empilÃ©s, de rauques impactsâ€¦ IntensitÃ©.
Guillaume Tarche l Improjazz l Avril 2008
Toshimaru Nakamura et Jean Luc Guionnet donnent ici un aperÃ§u de ce que l’improvisation peut avoir de plus rigoureux dans la construction et l’Ã©coute d’un projet.
Toshimaru Nakamura sculpte des larsens (avec l’appoint de quelques effets) issus d’une table de mixage bouclÃ©e ; Jean Luc Guionnet sans autre secours qu’un microphone joue d’un saxophone alto et d’un orgue sis en l’Ã©glise de Parthenay. Tout le disque est un dialogue au cordeau entre ces deux lutheries de prime abord opposÃ©es : le continuum Ã©lectrique, les circuits imprimÃ©s d’un cotÃ©, le souffle, le corps et ses limites de l’autre. Pourtant d’emblÃ©e, on est frappÃ© par le jeu en miroir des deux partenaires. La distorsion, les sifflantes de l’alto et les clicks delayÃ©s des sorties de Nakamura rivalisent de plasticitÃ©, se rÃ©pondant, tissant un contrepoint oÃ¹ l’homothÃ©tie, l’imitation des timbres et du phrasÃ© jouent Ã plein.
Les parrallÃ©lismes sont frappants entre sons courts/sons longs, sons purs/sons sales, sons tÃ©nus ou en mur sonique comme dans la plage quatre oÃ¹ l’orgue en plein crescendo noisy est rejoint par le bruit blanc du mixer dans une apothÃ©ose quasi symphonique de granulations titanesques et jouissives.
Ici, Ã©lectricitÃ© et acoustique s’avÃ©rent redoutablement souples et complÃ©mentaires pour rÃ©pondre aux injonctions d’un signal "exponentiel" d’un cotÃ©, bornÃ© de l’autre (enfin c’est vrai pour le sax, moins pour l’orgue) et oÃ¹ la sensation Ã©pouse son objet. La distance machine-instrument Ã©tant ici comblÃ©e, l’Ã©coute et la cohÃ©rence esthÃ©tique font le reste.
DÃ©cidÃ©ment Potlatch choisit avec une rigueur sans faille ses enregistrements.
Boris Wlassof l Revue & CorrigÃ©e l Mars 2008
An atuned auditive process : Past and history are collapsing into a burning marker on a shifting timescale.
After some routine has kicked in, writing reviews is really a simple task : You talk about a musicianâ€™s personal and professional past and about previous releases for a while, then turn towards a more or less adequate description of the disc at hand to arrive at a classification into the artists general canon of releases. And then an album like Map lands on your desk and suddenly words no longer seem to be capable of doing justice to the music.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the album falling out with tradition or with the performers arriving at a quasi-mythical land of subsonic depth and ultrafrequential altitudes. Granted, melody and chordal transformation even in a less conservative and classical sense are nowhere to be found here and rhythm has only survived as an idea, as an atoll of spontaneous, unpredictable and possibly even unintentional islands of interconnected percussive patterns. But if someone were to come along and call this record a â€œshining example of electroacoustic experimentationâ€ or â€œthe meeting of two figureheads of the contemporary improvisational sceneâ€ no one would feel offended.
The reason is that these terminologies, stripped of their linguistic pathos, are banale. Jean-Luc Guionnet has finely delineated a unique territory for himself in decades of playing in various line-ups and as part of diverse projects. The choice between composition and improvisation is not an idealistic one in his Å“uvre, it is a living and breathing inspiration, a reason for continous research and personal development : Guionnet is not merely deciding against or in favour of either of the two, but regards them as poles of a circular continuum, on whose soft moebius strip he moves gracefully and with utmost precision. Categorising him as an â€œimprovisorâ€ is not wrong â€“ but neglects the finely nuanced shadings which the word is awarded through the intricacies of his playing.
Toshimaru Nakamura, meanwhile, has refined his style to such a degree that stereotypically supplied background information on the â€œNo Input Mixing Boardâ€ (the technical setup he has become famous for) has given way to a more detailed appreciation of it as an instrument in its own right. His performance on Map indicates that he doesnâ€™t care for proving his capacity in drawing recognisable stuctures from it, like a sorcerer conjuring rabbits from an empty hat, but that his real interest lies in using it to create fluidely emotive expressions. The importance of his work lies less in the quality of the sounds he produces, but in the completely intuitive way of arriving at them.
The backcatalogue of both artists reveals the immense importance of an atuned auditive process for the appreciation of their music on the part of the audience, as well as for themselves as performers. Maybe it is this increased awareness, this hyper-sensitivity to each single sound they produce, to the way it is capable of influencing the musicâ€™s direction and its context, which makes them listen so attentively to the other on Map. The fusion of Alto-Saxophone with electronic hiss, crackle and distortion, despite occasional outbursts and disturbing high-pitch screams, sounds completely organic and carefully balanced here.
The aforementioned level of proficiency in using their instrument of choice is one part of the equation : Guionnet produces smooth continous tones, smacking and plopping sounds, metallic attacks, short themes in overblown harmonics, teakettle- and steamtrain imitations, rhythmically undulating insect buzzes and diaphanous, duophonic intervals with a warm breath. Nakamura counters these impulses with granular gravling, delicate microtonal dissections, bleeps, burps and bumps, fidgety fizzling and abrasive nervousness, or actively pushes things to a climax by tightening the density of his musical events.
On other occasions, a grounding of nothing but finely hissing white noise feels like an open invitation to his partner of going where he pleases â€“ which Guionnet amicably answers with discreet, silent horn tones, caressing the surface and forming a cohesive new texture.
The three opening improvisations, recorded on a single day in Montreuil are timbrally condensed and feel very much of one-piece, each new track offering glimpses at different formulations of the same idea. The concluding, 23-minute long piece, realised roughly two months later, however, additionally features Guionnet on Organ, delivering imposing clusters and sustained bass tones, injecting the already highly charged encounter with a vortex-like spatial depth, brimming with tactile aggression and continuing the energetic eagerness of the opening bars. In the outstretched middle-section, meanwhile, the undulating registers lend a mysterious, mythical feel to the music, which sways from the adrenalin-soaked to the ethereally cleansed, discharging itself in exchanges of industrial intensity and flowing towards a whisperd conclusion.
As initially stated, what makes this encounter special is not so much its radical revolutionary stance. Rather, the music suggests a potentially infinite source of exploration. Guionnet and Nakamura are so interested in what their counterpart has to say, that every second of music they produce needs to be appreciated without reference to what preceeded and followed it. Past and history are collapsing into a burning marker on a shifting timescale â€“ I suppose this is what is meant by â€œbeing in the momentâ€ . Words can of course still rationally describe what is happening here, but they can no longer act as a bridge : If you want to know what Map is about, you really need to listen to it.
Tobias Fischer l Tokafi l July 2008
Over the past ten years, Toshimaru Nakamura has crafted a distinctive approach to his particularly self-abnegating instrument, the no-input mixing board, and thrown himself into just about any improvising context you could imagine. Here with French saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet (on alto and, on the final track, organ), Nakamura once again polishes brilliant sculptures whose invisible contours glint and flash with hidden sunlight. The fulsome droning sections are broken up by croaks, sputters, and alien transmissions from the hive mind, all as likely to come from Nakamura as from Guionne’s gruff horn (though the latter plays with choppy aggression to open the third piece). There are moments when Nakamura turns up the heat more than one is accustomed to hearing, almost as if he’s cajoling Guionnet to all the way into a granular world of burrs and hisses. But what I enjoy so much about this recording is that Guionnet doesn’t step off the ledge. Rather, he continually peers over it, playing into what lies below, sounding out shapes in the nothingness, but nonetheless opting to flirt with the tensions of this position (maybe most provocatively on the second piece). Each musician gooses the other, then, in four lively improvisations, the last of which finds Guionnet summoning mad sounds from the organ and Nakamura joining in as if some dark ritual is underway.
Jason Bivins l Signal To Noise l June 2008
There’s little equilibrium to disrupt on Map, a testy, sometimes openly fractious duo with the always rewarding Nakamura, on trademark no-input mixing board. He and Guionnet exploit their instruments’ inherent contrast in pitch and timbre to generate palpable tension, disrupting moments of relative calm with cleverly awkward switches in direction. The noisly outrÃ© final track, with Guionnet on church organ in flamboyant mood, provides an appriopriately abstruse conclusion. This is risk-taking improvising, whose shaking off of genre shackles illustrates how conservative and idiomatic much recent electroacoustic Improv has become.
Nick Cain l The Wire l May 2008
When Toshimara Nakamura first unplugged his guitar from his mixing board, jacked the boardâ€™s output into its input, and started playing the resulting feedback, he metaphorically threw his musical map out the window.
Heâ€™s been defying ruled boundaries ever since. While heâ€™s proven his mastery of the instrument by shaping electronically generated resonance into placid expanses, banging loops and filament-thin lances in the company of such diversely motivated improvisers as Keith Rowe, Jason Kahn, Gene Coleman, and Axel DÃ¶rner, even his own past playing is an uncertain predictor of what heâ€™ll coax out of his no-input mixing board. In general his playing has become more austere, and such is the case on Map, but even so his playing doesnâ€™t sound much like anything else Iâ€™ve heard him do.
Map is a set of four duets with Frenchman Jean-Luc Guionnet, a saxophone and organ player who tends to gravitate towards electronic contexts, albeit ones with methodologies which range from laminal (Hubbub) to concrete (PhÃ©romone). Although he plays alto, the player of whom heâ€™s most reminiscent is soprano and tenor saxophonist John Butcher. Like Butcher, heâ€™s taken modern classical and early electronic sounds and forms into the realm of instant creation. And like Butcher, heâ€™s mastered a broad range of utterances that fall outside what youâ€™re supposed to play on a sax. However, heâ€™s more reticent, less prone to melody and density, more towards lean severity.
On the three unnamed pieces he and Nakamura recorded in Montreuil, he sticks to the saxophone and punches out high twitters and long, attenuated tones that seem to thin and flake like sheet metal thrust heavily against a grindstone. Nakamuraâ€™s contributions gather mass and presence, moving from sparse pops to purposeful rattles to a big blank wall of hiss. Neither man makes any concessions to prettiness ; the music binds an enormous and thrilling tension. Even at its emptiest, it is full of suspense ; when itâ€™s full on, itâ€™s an impressive array of textures that morph and melt from one to the next with obscure yet impeccable logic.
The last piece, recorded at Collegiale Sainte-Croix in Parthenay, wrings drama from a couple drastic switches. Guionnet swaps his saxophone for a church organ, which he uses to place clusters like swollen sasquatch footprints across the chill soundscape. Nakamura inverts the relationship between the volume the instruments output and the space they displace ; his portable black box sounds much more massive than Guionnetâ€™s stationary keyboard, and certainly more forceful than anything Iâ€™ve heard him do since the first Repeat album. He erects fuzzy screens of static that strive to block Guionnetâ€™s creeping chords, only to have the Frenchman flank them or simply slink slowly under their flickering screens. Unphased, Nakamura lets loose with a blizzard of dancing, but still pitiless noise. The organ retreats, only to creep back as soon as Nakamuraâ€™s attack splinters. Iâ€™ve never heard anything quite like it before â€“ how often can you say that nowadays ?
Bill Meyer l Dusted l March 2008
... may we propose Map by Jean-Luc Guionnet and Toshimaru Nakamura. On these four long and quiet pieces recorded at Montreuil and elsewhere, the Japanese emperor of hissing feedback uncoils himself like a gigantic snake while the French improviser clucks like an anguished chicken with his alto sax. The duo purr like contented white tigers on the third track, but wait till you hear the troubled and dark chords that Jean-Luc summons forth from his organ on track four. Taut and nervy improv at its leanest, this CD is a mean little beast !
Ed Pinsent l The Sound Projector l February 2008
The first three tracks on Map were recorded just over a month later back in Paris, with another post-onkyo Japanese grandmaster, Toshimaru Nakamura on his customary no input mixing board. Nakamura’s more abrasive sound world â€“ he’s come a long way since the almost danceable loops and pulses of a decade ago â€“ pushes Guionnet further out into the world of so-called extended technique, which he’s always been familiar with but has studiously avoided exploiting for its own sake, and the tension is palpable throughout. In addition to the alto sax, the Guionnet discography has on a number of occasions (Pentes, Tirets, Sion) explored the outer reaches of the venerable pipe organ, and the final track on Map finds him in the organ loft of a church in Parthenay, trading spine-chilling blasts of clusters with vicious screes of noise from Nakamura. Anyone who believes latter-day EAI lacks excitement and danger should be strapped down and forced to listen to this on repeat play for the rest of the year.
Dan Warburton l Bagatellen l March 2008
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