2021 // pierre gerard : pieces of apparatus
new wave of jazz nwoj0043
My first encounter with the music of Pierre Gerard wasn't something I enjoyed very much (see Vital Weekly 1243), as I have very little interest in the super silent approach to music (Lopez' early work, Bernard Günther et al), so I was a little reluctant to play his latest work. I am not sure, but this might be the first time that a release by this label doesn't mention any instruments. The previous one used "guitar, electronics, object, abstract voice with _ into environment", so who knows, maybe here too? There are five pieces here, of which four are over eleven minutes and the longest fifteen, with in the middle a brief piece of three and a half minute. The role of silence on this release is a lot smaller than on the first one I heard (Gerard has more releases, but mostly in very small editions). Also, I would think he just plays acoustic guitar here. Gerard plays what I would call 'small music'. Up close to the microphone, he plays the strings individually, most of the time and very occasionally there is a small strum. This is music that is akin to that of Taku Sugimoto, but, oddly enough, with less silence (!) between the notes and fits what could be perceived as Wandelweiser music. Small, individual sounds, seemingly randomly played on the guitar, without any hurry, without much drama, and very minimal, without being repetitive. I have no idea if Gerard plays his music with some Zen-like notion, even when the silent approach of before seemed to hint at such a thing, this release too is best be enjoyed with the mind being as empty as possible, sit back and let it all just happen, not in the ambient sense, full-immersive drone sound, but as quiet events taking place and enjoy this with a general sense of quietness.
2020 // pierre gerard : minus modum
self - release (limited edition of 100 cd)
Ever since Francisco Lopez released 'Warsawa Restaurant' in the mid-90s, a work that at minus 40 DBS hoovered at no sound at all, people are still attracted at this very quiet sound. I am not among those who love that silent notion. I just fail to see the point. Of course, I am telling you this, because here we have an example of someone who took a leaf out of the Lopez/Bernard Günter (whatever happened to him?) book (of blank pages, no doubt) and has five tracks made with, according to the cover, "guitar, electronics, object, abstract voice with _ into environment". At first, I thought the sound off, and then I realized the quietness and loaded all five pieces on to my computer made them 0db and listened. Some parts remain very quiet because only a selected number of sounds are 'loud'. And within the already silent pieces, there are more than once bits that are still silent. You guessed it, this is not easy listening music. Maybe I lack the concentration or the Zen spirit for this kind of music, just as I did with the Trente Oiseaux catalogue twenty years ago; or maybe I lack the right playback equipment (and no, I don't use computer speakers, as once a disgruntled musician commented on what he perceived as a bad review); just as I once heard Günter's music in his studio, which I enjoyed then much more, I should visit Gerard in his workplace and hear it over there. So, I think he uses a bit of sine wave-like drones, a few guitar sounds (maybe altogether 5 minutes out of the forty-nine minutes this release lasts), a bit of 'vocal' here and there and throughout a similar drone (?) sort of thing in all five pieces. I am sure I miss the point here.
Latest release from the close-lipped Belgian composer Gerard, a full-length album as opposed to his last mini-CD (Merle Vegetal). I say “close-lipped” since our Belgian friend prefers not to tell us much about his method, technique, or compositional aims, apart from a line of text which might as well be a clue in a cryptic crossword or part of the world’s longest and most difficult treasure hunt. Today’s clue is “a different air, another time…”, which is evidently important enough to warrant printing on the spine of the cover as well as on the inside.
Once again Gerard uses his guitar, low-key electronics, his own voice, and inanimate objects in the creation of a five-part work, this time using Greek letters to identify the separate parts of the structure. He also uses a lot of silence, as usual, and one has to strain quite hard to make out any perceptible markings on this blank stretch of time. Actually what may appear to be pure silence actually contains a very subtle and washed-out drone of some sort, produced by means we know not – it’s like a whistling gas-jet in the house, assuming you live in a tiny doll’s house and you yourself are a miniaturised human being. I say this because quite often Gerard’s work does feel like an “escape” or retreat from the vicissitudes of life, a safety zone where perhaps we can shrink down to
the size of an atom and dwell in a blanked-out world of whiteness. It might even be a comforting thing to do at a troubled time.
When you put it like that, the occasional interruptions of a plucked guitar string resonating for mere seconds, a broken phrase from a murmuring voice, or a bumped close-miked object can seem like unwelcome intrusions into our private space. But maybe they also serve as audio markers, beacons on the cliff line to guide the ships into the harbour. If we lacked these fragments of “reality” (whatever the heck that means in the context of such a pared-down abstract composition), we might not be able to put things in perspective. But then if one thinks about perspective, that leads to a line of enquiry involving ideas of “depth” in the recording, the creation of an imaginary audio space,
and this is where Gerard’s work is singularly lacking; like other previous records, Minus Modum is curiously flat and constrictive, no sense of dimension in the compositional arrangement, no effective use made of the long durations, and no interest in moving around much inside the miniature world he proposes.
I can put up with it if modernism insists on removing any type of content from the work, but I still need something to engage with; Gerard has taken things so far that he even denies form and duration as meaningful compositional elements, leaving us pretty much with a desolate, arid emptiness. From 30th July 2020.
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTO
2019 // bruno duplant _ pierre gerard : soleil clandestin
edition wandelweiser EWR 1912
A collaborative set of five soundscapes from Duplant and Gerard, sharing duties on "abstract" voices, guitar, electronics, field recordings and percussion. The pieces are mysterious, sometimes verging on the ritual-sounding, with random soft clattering and bumping offset by the deep tones of struck metal, perhaps bells of some kind. A guitar pokes through with surprising spikiness and, later, voices. This creates an oddly bumpy kind of terrain, with sounds that have a kind of separateness, giving the aural space a thick weave, like heavy material with holes. The voices can be a little...disquieting. I don't think I've previously heard Gerard's music so can't say how this fits in with prior work but it stands apart somewhat from Duplant's oeuvre, at least that portion of which I'm aware.
Monday, February 17, 2020
Brian Olewnick > olewnick.blogspot.com
Componist en musicus Bruno Duplant is een zeer actief man, alleen al vorig jaar verschenen er tien albums waar hij op de één of andere wijze actief in was, waaronder het ook hier besproken ‘Lettres Et Replis’ dat hij maakte samen met pianist Reinier van Houdt. Ook dit jaar zijn er al nieuwe albums uit. Vorige week bespraken we hier ‘L’Incertitude’ dat hij samen met Rutger Zuydervelt maakte en nu buigen we ons over ‘Soleil Cladestien’, een samenwerking met Pierre Gerard, dat verscheen bij Edition Wandelweiser Records.
Maar wie is nu eigenlijk Bruno Duplant. Hij heeft geen eigen website wat er toe leidt dat informatie bij elkaar moet worden gesprokkeld. Hij komt uit Noord Frankrijk, is autodidact en begon ooit als bassist, een instrument waar hij zich al lang niet meer toe beperkt. Hij heeft zich veeleer bekeerd tot de elektronica. Kenmerkend voor Duplant is dat hij daarbij rijkelijk gebruik maakt van bestaande opnames en veldgeluiden. Op de site van Café OTO zegt hij hierover: “Field recordings, like always with me came from lot of places. I don’t care about where were recorded the sound, but much more how to create new entities, territories (the self-fictions/autofictions), which are both fictive, intimate and personal.” Die opnames zijn voor Duplant bouwstenen waaruit hij een nieuw verhaal creëert: “The composition allows me to assemble more or less logically and incongruously the different sounds collected. I never try to reproduce the sounds that surround me in a logical and
precise way. I try to create something new, a new fictional entity that I have named “autofiction”, “self-fiction”.”
De Belg Pierre Gerard is een vergelijkbaar musicus, wat het onmogelijk maakt te bepalen wie nu precies wat doet op ‘Soleil Clandestin’, met één uitzondering: Gerard gebruikt ook zijn stem. En ook dit album is niets minder dan een zeer abstracte geluidssculptuur, waarbij het geluidsniveau, een kenmerkt van de muziek op dit label, over het algemeen nogal laag ligt. Het gaat Duplant en Gerard dan ook duidelijk om de nuance van de klanken in deze vijf titelloze stukken. Met behulp van een gitaar, percussie, elektronica, veldopnames en de menselijke stem creëren de twee musici hier een opvallend hechte geluidswereld, duidelijk een improvisatie in het moment. De stem van Gerard klinkt daarbij heerlijk zachtjes, op de grens van praten en zingen. In ‘Untitled 3’, en met name in ‘4’, mooie accenten plaatsend in het totale klankbeeld waarin, op de momenten dat er niet
wordt gekozen voor stilte, opvallend veel percussieve geluiden klinken – ook als ze afkomstig zijn van de gitaar – die dan prachtig de tijd krijgt om uit te waaieren. Een bijzonder album, maar dat zijn we van dit label inmiddels wel gewend.
Geplaatst op 11 mei 2020
Ben Taffijn > www.nieuwenoten.nl
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Got the latest record from Bruno Duplant, where this taciturn guitarist and composer is teaming up with Pierre Gerard for a set of duets, and the whole thing Soleil Clandestin (EWR 1912) has been released on Edition Wandelweiser.
Bruno and Pierre last appeared together on a very challenging record called Etudes for the minimalist Rhizome.s label, but that was a split – they didn’t actually brush their antlers together in the conservatory. In keeping with the “blanked out” philosophy that seems to inspire both these fellows, all the pieces are called ‘Untitled’, presumably making the usual attempt to deny the audience any form of pre-conceived ideas, and trying to clear a space for the music to be itself. The credit roster is also enigmatic, with its reference to “abstract voice”, but the material is mostly realised with guitars, electronics, percussion, and field recordings.
In spite of all their effort to go ultra-minimal, this Soleil Clandestin thing actually delivers quite a rich ladleful of broth, and while it’s not exactly an action-packed marathon through an electronica expressway, the small considered notes and their very deliberate positioning in the all-white fabric makes for something resembling an entertaining spin. There’s still the same “drip-feed” method – also called the water torture approach – which is a technique I associate with Gerard, and his ‘L’innocence a la verticale (sur la falaise)’ was remorseless in applying it. I mean that musical information arrives on our plates in small, microscopic fragments, leaving us to do our best with a small spoon and a telescope as we try to ingest this extreme variation on nouvelle cuisine. Ah, but what tastes they be.
f I can likewise characterise the work of good old Duplant, the word I normally fish out of the brain bag is “disconnected”; the narrative is shattered, the isolated statements make no sense, and it’s not even clear if there is a narrator yapping out these enigmatic blips. A fair number of hurdles, then, for the intrepid musical explorer to negotiate, but the fish-fry is well worth the hoopla. Grab at whatever you can on this skeletal dinner table, not knowing whether that’s an anaemic celery stick or a breadstick ye crunch. All the dinnerware is made of glass, by the way, thus adding to the transparency of method. A real winner – I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend the time than to have your hide flayed in slow motion by these benevolent blows of the whip.
I may have been haughty about the Wandelweiser ethos in past considerations, and still have considerable reservations about it, but I’m always ready to admit a good dose of Duplant’s icy blade into my neck.
From 19th February 2020.
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
One of the best pieces of writing about music I've ever read, anywhere, is Richard Pinnell's Sound American essay about Antoine Beuger's Keine Fernen Mehr, also on Wandelweiser. To say the album consists of Beuger whistling is to sell a profoundly moving and intimate experience painfully short. Pinnell's reaction is as personal and as profound as Beuger's infinitely simple vision. In essence, this collaboration between Bruno Duplant and Pierre Gerard lives in a similar space. It should; it's on Wandelweiser's label, but even more so than with other entries in that large catalog, it strikes a balance between timbre and hushed expression that I find intriguing and inviting.
The album's sound-world comprises what's called abstract voice, guitar, field recordings and percussion. In fact, the voice is the least abstract part about it if we can transcend our own limited ideas of syntax. The voice — or voices, as the album progresses — sing, quietly declaim and intone, all with a wonderful emotional import that bespeaks the heightened calm and awareness Pinnell describes when attending Wandelweiser performances. Listen at the 2-minute mark in the fourth untitled piece to hear some of what those voices do with interstitial delivery, awash in meaningful non-meaning, imbued with sound as sense in the overflowing sublimation when understanding is unencumbered by verbiage.
Beyond the voice, it is as if Webern had lived into the post-serialist age he pioneered, the
reimagining of instrumental line he spent his last years perfecting on a large orchestral scale. Guitar and percussion are here lavished lightly, delicately, transparently but richly, occasionally peppered with field recordings so exquisite as to provoke spring-morning nostalgia equally poignant and immediate. The sound of a bird, no more than that, is injected into my listening space in a way that is at once three-dimensional and remarkably focused. These are not the immersive sounds of nature so often favored in meditative music. They are sounds creating a space in which to dwell, of contemplation and quiet reflection like that enjoyed by the long-fabled monk who, praying for a vision of Heaven, was entranced by the song of a bird as three centuries passed. An occasional tolling bell speaks of another dynamic world, but softly, without reticence.
Each guitar tone, percussive and vocal entrance is a building block and a point of light. If a bit of tongue clicking brings a smile toward the end of the road, it does not negate the experience of a cross-section without hierarchy. Personally speaking, this is a place in which I could live, inhabiting one sound and then another as they travel through whatever space they occupy, each one richer and clearer than before as I press repeat. Headphones and speakers are both ideal, and for anyone new to the Wandelweiser experience, there is no better place to begin.
september 23, 2020
Marc Medwin > www.squidco.com
2019 // pierre gerard : merle végétal
self - release (limited edition of 19 numbered copies)
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Enigmatic Belgian composer Pierre Gerard has released Merle Végétal (NO LABEL), a short item which if purchased arrives pressed on a mini-CD and affords 20 mins of cryptical composerly entertainment. We last heard him with the wispy Cavité Aérienne full-length album. On Merle Végétal, he is credited with playing guitar, cello and electronics and also supplies the “abstract” voice – the latter might be his way of describing the very subtle electro-acoustic treatments to which he subjects his fine larynx. Actually the credit goes on to say that the abstract voice was “recorded with_into environment”, another rather elusive way of describing his recording set up, but it indicates that he is very susceptible to the nuances of his surroundings, allowing them to penetrate and influence the quality of the sound in ways that only he can understand.
Some of the familiar Gerard elements are in evidence here in the structure of the composition, including the strategy of drip-feeding musical information to us in very short segments, and also the device of cutting off a sound well before it reaches the natural point of decay. These methods can be distracting, but it’s probably deliberate; a means of making us aware of years of conditioning that leads us to expect to hear recorded sound in a certain way. Such aural events as do reach us are surrounded in an all-white field of silence, or near-silence, and the sense of expectation is quite palpable. As ever, when I do reach the micro-second of musical incident, I find Pierre Gerard is evidently capable of creating extremely beautiful musical moments, and I sometimes yearn to hear them extended into a longer suite of continual music. But then he might end up as just another
variation of the ideas of Morton Feldman.
The packaging for this item is also pretty neat; front and back cover have some details of
photographs which are highly intriguing. One of them might be a subway map, or a section of a printed circuit. Inside, he has pasted half of a printed invitation to one of his own exhibitions (from 2008) called, I think, Dissidence. The card wallet has also been perforated as though a conductor on board an avant-garde train had punched our ticket. If we were all passengers on this train, it would be moving very slowly through a dark tunnel, allowing us to savour the very gentle interplay of the lights and ceramic tiles we can see through the windows. From 10th December 2019.
From 31th May 2020.
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
2018 // pierre gerard : cavité aérienne
self - release (limited edition of 100 cd)
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Latest release from Belgian composer Pierre Gerard is Cavité Aérienne (SELF RELEASED), a highly evocative title whose literal translation into English gives us something like “airline cavity”,perhaps referring to the baggage compartment or the aircraft’s hold in back where the pets
are kept locked up in boxes. As you may recall Gerard’s work has sometimes surfaced on Pedro Chambel’s enigmatic label, but he also sends us occasional self-releases such as this one. Pierre Gerard is one of these ultra-minimal cryptographers for sure, and he also likes to print scant information on the covers, stripping
away everything but the barest facts about names, dates, and places.
The vibe I’m getting this time from reading these meagre lines, and hearing the meagre music, is
that in this case the lines are increasingly blurred between performance, composition, improvisation
and recording; or to put it another way, all four activities are granted equal weight, both in the
realisation and the presentation of the work. At the same time, Pierre Gerard reserves the right to
remain ambiguous where it so suits him, a strategy which can only work in his favour. I suppose
that both of these long pieces are electro-acoustic works at the very thin edge of the margins…the
first piece ‘Air’ is a combination of electronic sounds with acoustic instruments – namely the tenor
saxophone of Bertrand De Lamalle and the cello of Pierre Gerard himself. Interestingly, the
electronic parts seem to have a history extending back to 2011 at least, suggesting to me that Gerard
is the type of composer who lets his ideas ferment in barrels for several years before releasing that
intoxicating cognac to the audience. Of course, you may find the experience more like inhaling a
dose of ether than drinking a glass of brandy. I say this because although there may not appear to be
much going on, the sonic information that does eventually reach our ears is quite intense and
overpowering, but in a rather ethereal and wispy manner.
I always feel my house is inhabited with bizarre phantoms after playing a Pierre Gerard record, and
I have to purchase a psychic broom to sweep them out afterwards. The sax and cello parts seem to
have an improvisatory aspect to them, but if you were expecting a lively duo of skittery notes and
energised parps, be warned that the life has been bled out of those performances for presentation in
this glacial block of solid ice. Or has it? Perhaps the life has been recast in a new, unexpected form,
to release its energy into your system like a slow-acting drug. There’s another “ether” reference for
youse…the second piece is called ‘Cavity’, and uses much the same strategy as above – electronic
sounds blended with a musical instrument, except this time it’s a guitar and no performer is
credited. Perhaps this time we don’t have a budding Segovia or Julian Bream type in the frame and
Gerard is simply lying a guitar on its side for use as a resonant box. On the other hand, some
sketchy riffs and notes do float into the arena now and again, in the usual drip-feed method that
characterises this very austere composer. At least 75% silence is the benchmark he aims for, with
fragments of unobtrusive sound dotted about in selected parts of the frame. Again there’s the timelag
aspect, and this time the electronic sounds began life in 2009. Perhaps the use of span dates
indicates a very long maturation process for this part of the work. I would very much favour the
idea of a composition gradually forming itself into a realised work, like evolving crystals or strata
of rock, rather than the sort of “instant” realisation that less patient artisans settle for. ‘Cavity’ is
subtly different to ‘Air’ at some level I can’t quite figure out, but there could be more going on in
the way of processing; it’s more recognisably “electronic” in tone, and there are more juicy
moments of sonic knot-tying to wrap your big toes around.
All in all, I was half-expecting from the title of this work to have the aural equivalent of passing an
hour inside a cramped flight compartment, as if I myself were an unfortunate cat in a pet box being
flown to Amsterdam or Slough. Certainly I think of one or two modern musicians who would be
only too happy to deliver a claustrophobic experience like that, and there are those who have also
recorded their own flights on jet planes to produce music comprising flat, grey drones. Instead,
Pierre Gerard has created a very liberating and open experience; if I am flying, I’m certainly not
locked inside a box and seem to be suspended in the blue stratosphere by powerful unseen forces,
flying without restriction towards my goal. Free! From 6th December 2018.
From 22th June 2019.
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
2017// pierre gerard : cubic garage
self - release (limited edition of 21 numbered copies)
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Another highly minimal composition from Belgian composer Pierre Gerard, which arrived in
same bundle as architect (noted earlier). Cubic Garage features a rather elaborate package, a small
booklet format larger than the average CD wallet, in which is mounted one of 21 copies of the
limited-edition CDR. There’s also a printed insert sandwiched between layers of permatrace,
concealing the artwork, obscuring the messages. With all the white space, lower-case typography,
and aura of severity, I’m reminded, as I often am, of the packages we used to receive from winds
measure recordings, which in turn put me in mind of minimal and cryptic artist’s books that I have
some distant memory of seeing in display in the Whitechapel bookshop once (something you’d be
unlikely to see these days, I warrant).
On the disc, Gerard offers us his usual strategy of granting us micro-seconds of musical information
in between long silent passages, a trick which today is having the effect on me of a form of torture –
unbearable tension waiting for the next sound to appear. Blink and you miss it. Matter of fact it’s so
unobtrusive most of the time you’re not even sure you heard it. If the intention is to create scads of
ontological doubt in the poor noggin, consider me fully processed in that area. Where do I report for
my next dose? Gerard plays the cello I seem to recall, and if you’re lucky you might be able to
savour a tiny fragment of warm cello bowing for less than half a nano-second, but don’t count on it.
It’s more like a stab than a bowing action…or perhaps a tiny needle dart, a pinprick in the gigantic
shoulder of the human race. If you manage to locate a sound, I’d advise you to grab it with both
teeth and chew it for as long as you can, even if you feel you’re being asked to “eat the air, promisecrammed”.
So far I’m reminded of the B.C. cartoon strip by Johnny Hart, where Grog catches a
snowflake on his tongue and chews it for an inordinate amount of time. (Punchline is: “the poor
schmoe got the one with the gristle”).
I will say the cover to this one is a masterpiece of enigmatic information. Inside are a few lines
printed in French and English, which may summarise the structure or intention of this composition.
“One minute of referred poverty / A lake of indifference” is how the translated version reads, and I
hope that isn’t too much of a disclosure of Pierre Gerard’s intellectual property. I too have bathed in
the lake of indifference…who hasn’t? I think the over-crowded world today encourages
indifference, since there’s simply too much for us to consume, too much information to take in, and
too many demands on our time. Consequently we end up confused…instead of concentrating on the
things we love, we grow callous and jaded about everything. Each time we scroll up and down on
our mobile devices we add another drop of water to that lake! Then there’s the image, which is a
monochrome gem of inscrutable beauty and compacted information. Those numbers you see are
overprinted and just tell you the times of the five untitled tracks. But look at those shapes and that
grid device…are we now inside the cubic garage? Is it nothing more than the space where Gerard
parks his Bugatti? I totally love the vague oval shapes, especially the looming shadow on the
uppermost part of the image, and right away mistook it for an airship, a blimp. Matter of fact I
intend to use this image as an alternative cover to Led Zeppelin’s Presence. It’s a perfect fit.
Having completed today’s spin, I find there is a lot more sonic detail on offer than I might be
making out, including about five seconds of real-time location recording where the outside world
makes an appearance to this otherwise sealed-off experience, along with Pierre singing. That
moment alone is worth the admission fee. There are also tasty plucks, strange hums, eerie piercing
tones, and segmented samples which if strung together in the right order might reveal something
about this “deferred poverty” that occupies the composer’s mind. If you enjoy solving crossword
puzzles while listening to music, here’s a way you can kill two birds with one stone.
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
2017 // études
pierre gerard : l'innocence à la verticale (sur la falaise)
bruno duplant : 42 études (sans paysage)
rhizome.s # 19
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
The third record is called Études (Rhizome.s #19). The first composition in seven parts is called ‘L’innocence a la verticale (sur la falaise)’ and was composed by Pierre Gerard. This minimalist piece uses a lot of silence and small electronic tones, but also some fragmented materials sourced (in a very roundabout way) from real instruments – alluded to here as “a stringed instrument and a wind instrument”, keeping it unspecified just in case we were tempted to get distracted by detail. Gerard himself adds a cello to the work. Actually the method might not really be that roundabout, but the explanation – the longest we’ve read on one of these releases so far – certainly is, and adds another layer of distancing by mentioning the name of a third party (Luigi Turra) involved in this “sourcing” action. What this amounts to is ascetic, severe, blank. It’s certainly nothing so vulgar as sampling; we’re now in the exalted realms of something much more conceptual, profound, and distilled. The micro-shards of musical information are short and cut-off, only allowed into the body of the composition after passing the strictest possible tests for admissibility. On the surface, I’m reminded of the work of John Wall, who used to be the go-to guy in the UK if you wanted samplebased electronic art music delivered to your doorstep in a highly compressed manner. But at least he made a sound you could hear. Gerard seems to live in dread of emitting any messy aural stains which might mar the clinical beauty of the silence. There’s also the matter of his rather elaborate title, which seems to put the listener in a very awkward situation; as though we have to climb a sheer rock face, like mountaineers, in order to understand or experience this music. You can bet that Gerard would remain unmoved by our complaints and would not furnish a single piton to help us on the ascent of this smooth rock wall. I admit to being mystified. You really must see the Bandcamp page of this Belgian genius; each cover a master-statement of beautiful understated greys.
31 december, 2017
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Vital weekly 's press / number 1081
And finally there is 'Etudes', seven by Pierre Gerard and forty-two by Bruno Duplant. The
Gerard pieces use sound sources from Luigi Turra, "sounds of two acoustic instruments, a
stringed instrument and a wind instrument", plus cello from Pierre Gerard. I am not sure if he in
anyway transformed the sounds of Turra, or whether he simply plays along with them. It might
very well be the latter thing, but who knows, maybe not? It is not easy to tell judging by the
music. Music that is very silent throughout this, with very sparsely distributed sounds, and very
few occasional bursts of digital interruption. It's some very demanding or very meditative music,
depending on how you wish to approach this. There is no additional information regarding the
Duplant piece, which is subtitled 'sans paysage', which means 'without landscape', perhaps
referring to the fact there is no field recordings used? Or maybe something like that, as I believe
to something of that kind. Again I might be wrong (information, you might have guessed this, is
not really forthcoming), but this is, unlike Gerard, not really quiet and actually quite present. I
didn't count but these twenty-five minutes are indeed chopped up into smaller pieces, of buzzing
electricity, faulty wiring and electro-magnetic pick-up, rusty doorbells and who knows what else.
It hears very much as one work and not as forty-two small ones. One long etude perhaps?
All three are fine examples of modern composed music and the practice of improvisation.
2014 // pierre gerard : architect
senufo editions # fifty
CUT AND RUN
Soon after discovering the work of Pierre Gerard four or five years ago, I rapidly became a completist. This was occasionally something of a guilty pleasure, as instead of listening purposefully
I would often take advantage of the luxurious expanse of his minimalism to cleanse the palette. An excusable habit for hyper-consumers of audio like myself, but one that listeners should avoid repeating with his newest release on Senufo Editions, Architect.
To begin, Gerard appears to be playing with the concept of manual and manufactured aesthetics. Expanding on the titles’ analogy a bit, the birth of modern architecture was largely a result of technological advances in production methodology. Instead of materials both crafted individually by human hands and bearing significant physical and aesthetic properties of their original state, construction materials began to be developed mechanically, serially and in forms increasingly divorced from cultural design or social imperative. Likewise, the ability to reproduce sound acousmatically, that is, without requiring the presence of its original source, had a similar impact on musical composition. Recording and audio reproduction technology commonly allowed a critique or, at best, a reconstitution of aesthetic norms (at worst, it repeated them for yet another century). Architect mines both of these methods of production for meaning and metre.
What makes this work initially stand out, especially to a listener with some knowledge of Gerard’s past work, is that despite the accretion of sound in a largely deconstructivist manner, much of the source material Gerard uses and digitally arranges across (particularly) the first and third pieces is in fact recognizable as acoustic instrumentation. Its most notable use is in the opening ‘Architect Ι, The Mechanics‘, where the natural attack, decay, timbre, pitch and amplitude are periodically allowed to exist and even harmonize unadulterated. By contrast, the more aleatoric second track, ‘Architect Γ, The Structure Of A Rock On A High Mountain’, reduces the audio envelope to subharmonic and heavily time-shifted scales where such sources are indeterminable. The question of whether or not the samples of the first are used on the second (or final) track may be answered by the work’s subtitle: ‘Three studies on what surrounds us and which remains sometimes invisible’. However, in my opinion the recitation of the iconography of traditional musical aesthetics is the more important contribution of the opening piece. With notes from the diatonic scale fresh in the listener’s mind, albeit rather few of them, he or she is left to re-evaluate their expectations of just what constitutes musicality across the rest of Architect.
‘Architect Γ…’ in particular challenges the manu-aesthetics (to borrow a term from architect Rifat Chadirji) of ‘Architect I…’. Revisiting the subtitle, the listener would expect it sufficient to examine the unheard or under-appreciated dynamics of the sonic range heard in the first piece. Gerard goes rather beyond this, however. Rigorous silence so efficiently decontextualizes what sounds do appear as to necessarily lend their sonic characteristics a sort of self-induced logic and stability. Using a palette found more frequently in his oeuvre than that on ‘Architect I…’, Gerard aptly finds appropriate timescales for these auditory fundamentals to play out – occasionally stuttering, other times droning, but always resolving as a self-sufficient monad. The recurrence of recognizable classical form in the last piece, ‘Architect Ξ, The Distance Between The Elements In A Small Forest Area’, has the quality of an apparition and is frequently directly contrasted and in turn harmonized with more synthetic counterparts, bringing the dichotomy of the first two works to a rather pleasing resolution.
All that said, I would be doing a disservice to Architect if it was implied that the album works only on a conceptual level. Given its delicacy and balance, it is easy to empathize with Gerard’s auditory ethic. The hissing recording artefacts that blink in and out of existence across the work are both implicative and dramatically tense. The spacious minimalism and simple structure allows what
would be mundane notes and rhythms on other albums to feel sonorous and carefully crafted on this one. Gerard has a well-developed ear for microsonics and as a whole Architect is a delightful listen.
1 september, 2014
Vehscle > CUT AND RUN
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Through the label of Pedro Chambel, we heard the music of Belgian composer Pierre Gerard on a
split record Études released with Bruno Duplant. Consequently Gerard himself sent us a package,
which landed here 17th January 2018. The CD architect (senufo editions # fifty) is packaged in a
very attractive letterpress cover. All the white space and small fonts (in lower-case natch) tip you off
to highly minimal contents. Cover image baffles. For some reason I thought it was a modernist light
fitting hanging from a white ceiling. Now I think it might be some untipped cigarettes in a
dispenser. This might be the reward for the listener, even if they do not smoke.
The three parts of architect are distinguished by unusual glyphs or symbols, which precede the
subtitles; part one is ‘the mechanics’, part two is ‘the structure of a rock on a high mountain’, a
situation which reminded me of the title of the last one we heard, ‘L’innocence a la verticale (sur la
falaise)’. I was daunted by the possibility that “we have to climb a sheer rock face, like
mountaineers, in order to understand or experience this music”. Today though not only is the music
more approachable for some reason, but evidently Gerard’s concern is a more general one to do
with space itself. The third part of architect is ‘the distance between the elements in a small forest
area’. The whole work is intended as “studies on what surrounds us”, indicating an interest in the
environment, “and which remains sometimes invisible”, indicating the metaphysical side to
Gerard’s work. To navigate this space, Gerard’s plan on ‘the mechanics’ is to propose a 20-minute
block of total silence, whose serene beauty is only occasionally interrupted by tiny fragments of
sound, fragments which might have some basis in music. Low hums, creaks, imperceptible drones.
We’re in the presence of a church organ played by the world’s most diffident and philosophical
organist, who only communicates the melody of the hymn to us with two or three understated notes
at a time. The congregation can do the rest.
‘the structure of a rock on a high mountain’ continues this theme, though with recognisably
different elements. Fluttering as of butterfly wings, plucking strings, strange unidentifiable rustling.
The occasional sharp cut-off effect which surfaces now and again reminds me that Pierre Gerard
works in small samples of sound, which he assembles with great deliberation, releasing small
microscopic atoms of compressed information into the ether. We need to have a long memory to
“read” this music, assuming that is we are intended to put the fragments together. Maybe the
intention is to show how everything in life is unknowable, occluded, mysterious in origin. At all
events this “mountain” suite certainly delivers more in the way of incident and substance than part
Lastly, ten minutes of ‘the distance between the elements in a small forest area’. Near the start I
heard a few precious moments of drone music that was simply beautiful – sounded like a plucked
cello string along with a harmonium. But it vanishes almost instantly. I could happily have enjoyed
a whole album of music like that, but Gerard’s plan is much more severe. Wait patiently and the
next snippet of data may pass before us like a passing train (a very small train) in the middle of the
As a philosophical contemplation of invisible things which surround us, this record invites the mind
to speculate about it is that we might be missing as we go about our hum-drum lives, presumably
rushing about too quickly to see anything and making too much noise to observe the real presence
of these invisible things. They’re not supernatural beings at all, according to Gerard (I would
guess); the fact he might see himself as an “architect” of this unseen space means that to him they
are real, present, every bit as tangible as a concrete blockhouse or an elevated ring-road. All he has
to do is reveal them. Perhaps compositions like this represent his attempts to create blueprints for
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
2012 // pierre gerard : to be a moon of saturn
self - release (limited edition of 21 numbered copies)
CUT AND RUN
We could talk Edition Wandelweiser, or Taku Sugimoto . . . but what would we really learn?
So instead, let’s talk quantum mechanics for a moment (bear with me a moment). At a small enough scale (around the Planck length – a distance small enough that it is understood only theoretically) the Heisenberg uncertainty principle allows energy to very briefly decay into particles and antiparticles, which just as quickly react to destroy each other once again. The constant energy flux of these reactions would warp space-time enough, in a ‘frothy’ or ‘foamy’ manner, that it would no longer resemble the flat continuum of the universe on the scale we are familiar with. The shape of space-time at the Planck length is thus called ‘quantum foam’, so named by the theory’s founder, John Wheeler. In effect, it is an artifact of the breakdown of classical physics when they are taken to their logical extreme.
Okay, so what exactly does this have to do with Pierre Gerard’s newest self-release of piano solos? I suppose scale (read: amplitude) makes all the difference here as well. This is a rather sparse trio of pieces. Usually a few notes every minute at the most. They are not played rhythmically, nor with any obviously discernible melodic or harmonic progression. Gerard seems to react to the recording circumstances as need be – holding off from the keys, or shifts and percussive uses of the piano whenever incidental sounds occur. But give them time, and even a fraction of your attention, and they with entrance.
I would not be so presumptuous as to assume I understood Gerard’s intentions with the music, but the gain on the recording relative to the loudness of his chords on the piano suggests that playing the work at higher volumes is at least not unacceptable. While the ‘musical’ aspect of the work provides one narrative for the album (especially on track 3), its negative space provides another entirely.
I was listening once more to the album (heavily amplified) as I wrote this, and would periodically realize I hadn’t typed a word for nearly a minute. I was instead completely transfixed on the possibly hallucinatory changes in the ‘noise’ present in the piece. These moments are not unlike the epiphanies referred to in Adrian Dziewanski’s review of Gerard’s other self-release from 2012, Principe D’Incertitude. The dilation and contraction of the listener’s focus, the music’s amplitude and the timbral shifts from piano to noise make for a timespan akin to the aforementioned frothiness.
Alongside the obvious car drive-bys (which produce noticeable and rather soothing bass reverberations) there are minute changes in the distorted froth that constitutes most of the material between the clarion chords of the piano. When notes are played, they are static discharges of the friction built up in the preceding time-span. After several minutes of hesitation, mostly as the listener is unsure of what dynamic range to expect, the lowercase sounds rise to life. The structure is thus inverted, with the piano score demarcating the space (musical, theoretical, audible) ccupied by incidental sound and recording artifacts.
Intensely introverted music that requires and rewards careful listening (I try not to cry wolf on that rather abused line, but there you have it). It is additionally beautifully packaged in handmade sleeves with printed vellum and kraft paper inserts, the edition of CDrs is limited to just 21. I seriously doubt they will last very long, so head to Pierre Gerard’s site to get a copy.
30 December 2012
Vehscle > CUT AND RUN
2012 // pierre gerard : principe d'incertitude
self - release (limited edition of 21 numbered copies)
One of my favourite contemporary musicians returns with a beautifully hand-crafted self release that's criminally limited to 21 copies. I was lucky enough to be graced with one, and like other exquisite albums I've showcased in the past, Principe D'incertitude is a perfect example of what the Scrapyard Forecast has always been about: exceptional care and quality in sound composition and presentation.
Pierre Gerard's work often resides somewhere in the crosshairs of field recording and hyperminimalism. His ENVIRONMENT & Gesture release from last year illustrated this meeting of styles near perfectly–that particular work becoming a definite favourite of mine. Gerard expands on ideas employed in that work here, keeping in check his ear for terseness and microsound movement, while at the same time bringing in a wider palette of acoustic devices and environmental recordings. This is music that requires full attention to grasp, and I can say from experience that it benefits to close all the windows in your house if you're serious about giving this a proper listen (It wouldn't hurt to unplug your fridge either).
What I've come to really like about Gerard's recent work extends beyond an obvious patience he brings to every piece. In his interest and attempt to eliminate the performer as much as possible, Gerard's work brings new meaning to the word organic. I'm reminded of when in the middle of listening to long works by Rolf Julius I've on multiple occasions come to a sudden moment of abrupt realization. That moment is spawned from the thought that no matter how natural, how seamlessly the music seems to swim from my subconscious mind to my conscious awareness and back again, there is always a maker behind it. Principe D'incertitude brings about a similar epiphany. And yes, I've come to terms with the fact that I perhaps haven't the slightest clue as to what these epiphanies truly represent, but it's safe to say that there is more going on in Gerard's work than a snap judgement can impart.
Adrian Dziewanski > SCRAPYARD FORECAST
2011 // pierre gerard : ENVIRONMENT & gesture
3leaves (hu) : 3L009
hector cabrero > LE SON DU GRISLI
Pierre Gerard and Andy Graydon's tape release from earlier this year saw a long distance sound exchange deploying themes of polarity and homeward migration. Gerard's take on the themes saw an ultra-minimalist approach – as he often deploys – that resulted in a nice piece of hushed concrete-drone music. As minimal as that piece was, it sounded tumultuous in comparison to ENVIRONMENT & gesture.
On their own, the three tracks that make up the album give little to no reward for the listener, elapsing as lackluster environmental backdrops: a water droplet here, a rock thud there. After the 20 minute opener the sound of a stream is introduced, which slightly livens things, though barely. But Gerard hasn't just presented an album of boring field recordings, his intentions are far more earnest.
From his perspective these recordings are the product of seamless improvisations, where the sounds of objects and instruments are integrated by the "performer" into an environmental soundscape by complimenting it as opposed to dominating over it. Rightly so, Gerard choose nearly silent locations to perform these passive improv sessions where even the slightest of movements likely had the potential to impede on his vision. In these recording situations discipline and restraint become important factors, and although the outcome isn't the most engaging, there is much revealed in the artist's intentions and in the sound work itself if one can spend time with it. Yes, this just might win you over. Recommended.
Adrian Dziewanski > SCRAPYARD FORECAST
WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS
Pierre Gerard is a master of the barely there brand of minimalism and a firm favourite here at Wonderful Wooden Reasons. His music is a perfect example of a truly ambient soundworld. His, often seemingly commonplace, sounds are so delicately positioned that it's all too easy to forget that there is a seedee playing and to thoroughly believe that these sounds are part of your immediate everyday environment.
This is music that augments on a level of subtlety that I find deliciously insidious. It spoils you for more overt sounds, they become cloying and bombastic, and leaves you craving the delicate fragility of these compositions.
10 November 2011
Ian > WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS
Belgian sound artist works with objects and electronic devices. He has been active since 2007 releasing CD-R's, CD's and a cassette for the imprints White Line Editions, Koyuki, Dragon's Eye Recordings and 3Leases, among others.
Drops of water are the main sound in this record which is electronically manipulated. The minimal aesthetic on this CD is sometimes close to silence and bits of tiny drops configure an special rhythm.
El artista sonoro belga trabaja con objetos y dispositivos electrónicos. Ha estado activo desde 2007 editando CD-R's, CD's y un casete para los sellos White Line Editions, Koyuki, Dragon's Eye Recordings y 3Leases, entre otros.
Gotas de agua es el principal sonido en este disco y que son electrónicamente manipuladas. La estética minimal de este CD es a veces cercana al silencio y pequeñas gotas configuran un especial ritmo sonoro.
domingo, 13 noviembre 2011
Guillermo Escudero > LOOP
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
ENVIRONMENT and Gesture (3LEAVES 3L009) is the new release from Pierre Gerard , a Frenchman who is making a form of very gentle intervention in our daily surroundings with his near-imperceptible sonic actions, a strategy which to some extent aligns him with Jeph Jerman. His two main objectives are (a) to produce improvisations using common objects, not in the sense that he “dominates” the object like an imperialist invader seizing handfuls of sand, but rather to arrive at an integrated and harmonious situation where man and nature are brought one step closer to happy co-existence. As to (b), this concerns the more metaphysical ambition where he hopes his work will have an effect on time itself, causing a “soft impression” on the listener such that time starts to slide past in a more gentle and manageable manner, presumably a welcome antidote to the pressures of modern urban life where time has been sliced and parcelled into rigid divisions that suit the capitalist agenda. Gerard attempts the above by situating himself in a determinedly rural setting (water, stone and air are his materials) and creating gentle sounds which may involve dropping stones into a pond or engaging with a stream of water in some sympathetic way. The long 20-minute track contains such sounds occurring in sproadic intervals with lots of silence, and it feels isolated, stark, minimal beyond belief. However by the end of the album the external sounds of the environment also begin to appear, and help to put the work into context. I have reproduced the exact typographical rendering of the title of this release, which clearly stresses the element which Gerard regards as the more important of the two in his symbiotic relationship.
november 5, 2011
Ed Pinsent > THE SOUND PROJECTOR
In the moment when silence and its weak ruptures become unbearable for a man to sustain, a music based on those very characteristics is equally problematic. When an artist works with micro-elements such as Belgian Pierre Gerard, the challenge is that of pushing a listener to find new implications within acoustic milieus exploited to the bone. ENVIRONMENT & Gesture is a three-part piece whose linearity is somewhat displacing; even more puzzling is the positive reaction of this reviewer in front of natural components – mostly water and faraway environmental whispers, with the addition of an unspecified “instrument” – that have been used thousands of times before by other practitioners of the same area, with increasingly ho-hum results. However, I have come to trust Gerard pretty much throughout the recent past. His method cancels the ego completely, privileging the macrocosmic aspects of an introspective solitude. Accordingly, the work manages to involve to a point of complete participation “inside” the rarefied messages coming from the speakers. Despite the absence of surprises, this record is characterized by a wealth of recondite signals – wrapped in an awful lot of implicit meanings – transforming the hush that follows the end of the album into a deafening dearth of questions, as if all what we needed to know was already printed somewhere in the countryside's scents.
september 27, 2011
Massimo Ricci > TOUCHING EXTREMES https://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2011/09/27/pierre-gerard-%e2%80%93-environment-gesture/
VITAL WEEKLY / number 798
After a couple of CDRs and download only releases, Pierre Gerard now moves into releasing his first real CD, thanks to the advantages some pressing plants offer to do smaller editions. This one is limited to 250 copies. Gerard is a computer musician of the more minimal kind - perhaps: the most minimal kind. He has three pieces here, all improvisations of which he says "i would like to improvise with the most minimal element, which shares our everyday life each minute when we are there. this improvisation does come in a domination of the one on the other, but in an integration. hoping that the sound which I produce would have been able to be without my participation". I left in the lowercase, so that you have an idea. The english could have used some work (but then: usually mine too), but its clear: Gerard works with a limited amount of sound. Objects in the first piece, and instruments in the second and third piece. The 'objects' are the drips of water, perhaps on a small variety of surfaces. Instruments are even harder to define here. In the third piece - the 'fullest' sound-wise - we hear also rain and/or static hiss and the water is now in a constant downfall, which started out in the second piece, but then its very hard to recognize many instruments at all. Quite a strange release, quite conceptual I think and also at the same time quite a beautiful release, very contemplative. Play loud or play soft - this is very much grounded in the work of microsound, and perhaps as such as not the most original one, but it's all done with great care. (FdW)
Frans de Waard > VITAL WEEKLY
LE SON DU GRISLI
Bien sûr, Pierre Gérard utilise des fields recordings pour composer. Mais il tient surtout à se faire une place dans son environnement, d'en être une partie sonnante. Avec des objets ou des instruments, il accompagne des gouttes d'eau qui tombent, des chiens qui aboient, des bruits de transports… La technique de Gérard est empirique et sa musique cache parfois des petits trésors, en plus de donner des preuves de sa présence au monde.
2011 // pierre gerard and andy graydon : untitled, (magnetisms)
pierre gerard - I : orientation (magnetite crystals) 20:01
andy graydon - II : refrain
1. givens 9:24
2. returns 10:48
edition 100, fold out print by ben owen (cassette c40)
winds measure recordings (us) wm21
Pierre Gerard and Andy Graydon - Untitled, (Magnetisms) (Winds Measure)
My mind has flexed itself trying to wrap around this release’s many convolutions and multi-tiered, pock-marked constructs. Moreover, the music stretches across a great deal of musical territory—not just the mental territory I’ve created from its sounds. Side B has sections which recall Basic Channel’s extremely sparse dub-inflected moments, and much of the tape recalls early-’50s electronic and tape pieces, but there is something that separates it from that period entirely. I can’t figure it out. I find this release to be extremely original.
Another magnificently packed tape, this time a split between the Belgium based Pierre Gerard and German sound artist Andy Graydon. As the story goes, Winds Measure commissioned these gentlemen to produce a work specifically for cassette. The two answered the call with magnetism , a theme that is as fundamental to migratory birds as it is to the functionality of analog tape. Gerard and Graydon began planning their work while focusing on two phenomena associated with magnetism: homeward migration and polarity, eventually settling on a process in which each artist would send the other a recording from their respective home environments to process and compose with – Graydon sending a recording of bamboo in the forests outside his childhood home on Maui, Hawaii and Gerard sending a recording of a wooden table located outside a house in the French village Espère.
The A side, Orientation (Magnetite Crystals) , composed by Gerard, fits nicely alongside the minimalist extremes of previous Winds Measure productions – Richard Garet's L'avenir and Jason Kahn and Takefumi Naoshima's In a Room come to mind. The piece is glacial, coalescing as a motionless stretch of time over its 20 minute duration. Gerard's micro-movements of sound are often listless, though occasionally they become spring loaded, vibrating through the speaker cones for a split second before they are gone, a new sound taking their place. Very consistent and a great work. Graydon's side is for the most part equally as enjoyable save for perhaps a few over zealous moments, though he makes up for it in the lovely ambient sections peppered throughout. A fine job that strikes me as easier to fall into than Gerard's piece, though ultimately not as rewarding. Again, a worthwhile release from Winds Measure, and if you haven't done so already invest some time in this under-appreciated label.
Adrian Dziewanski > SCRAPYARD FORECAST
An interesting conceptual connectivity underscores this collaborative outing between Pierre Gerard and Andy Graydon. Having been asked by Winds Measure to create a work for cassette tape, the pair fixed their attention on the material dimension of tape technology, and, recognizing that the magnetism associated with the medium also plays a part in other magnetic systems (such as the navigation of migrating birds and the earth's polarity), each sent the other a field recording associated with his home environment for the other to work with.
Credited to Gerard, side one's "Orientation (Magnetite Crystals)" documents the manipulations applied by Gerard to the recording sent by Graydon, specifically a recording of a field recording of bamboo in the forests outside Graydon's childhood home on Maui, Hawaii—not that one would be easily able to extricate the contributions made by Graydon to the twenty-minute meditation, which presents itself as a sparsely populated field of spectral micro-sounds (clicks, whirrs, rustlings, etc.) and textures where
extended passages of hiss are as much a part of the piece as the punctuating elements. Side B features a two-part piece by Graydon called "Refrain" that documents Gerard's manipulations of a wooden table outside a house in the French village Espère. What results is a rather more active conglomeration of textures that suggests intermixtures of animal life forms and industrial sounds—even if such evocations are purely illusory. Regardless, the wealth of detail presented on side B—whistling tones, swirls, scrapes, and textural noise of one unidentifiable kind or another—keeps one listening throughout its twenty-minute duration. The collaborative project, which would be of interest primarily to devotees of textural sound art, nevertheless offers an engaging exploration of sound (trans)migrations.
VITAL WEEKLY / number 770
PIERRE GERARD & ANDY GRAYDON - UNTITLED (MAGNETISMS)
(cassette by Winds Measure Recordings)
An obscurity here. An split tape, with one piece by Pierre Gerard and one by Andy Graydon and in one way or another I think this all has to do with 'magnetic' sound waves, music recorded on cassettes, rather than anything digitally. According to the website this is a collaborative work. Gerard was reviewed before in Vital Weekly, and his twenty minute piece is called 'Orientation (Magnetite Crystals)'. Highly obscured sounds, which are not easy to recognize: "Andy sent a recording of bamboo in the forests outside his childhood home on Maui, Hawaii. Pierre recorded "a wooden table located outside a house in the French village Espère. The table is directed towards the horizon which becomes bluish". They could have fooled me. Its very hard to say what kind of "processing" took place on the Gerard side: lots of silence and an occasional bump in the road. At one point a more continuos electronic (?) sound comes in, irregularly. Odd but compelling. Graydon's side is a more continuos sound affair. He seems to apply methods of recording and re-recording similar sound events and pick them up in the same room: say a version of 'I'm Sitting In A Room', but then for acoustic sounds and collaged together, rather than presented one after another. Personally I preferred this side to Gerard's piece, I must admit. Quite intense, lo-fi scattered magnetic fields, rusty to the core, and an excellent example of fine almost drone like music. (FdW)
Frans de Waard > VITAL WEEKLY
2010 // pierre gerard : perspective, en cherchant le chevreuil (to gus van sant)
mastered by bernhard günter
trente oiseaux (de) : toc1003
For thirty minutes, Pierre Gérard puts the listeners in direct confrontation with the variability of perception, on a merely physical/aural level and in sheer introspective terms. There is no scheme to mentally clutch to feel “secure”; no recourse to categorizations such as “silence” or “minimalism”. Just the asymmetrical concurrence of variously dyed frequencies and acoustic wrinkles that our ears may recognize as familiar derivations (faint suggestions of reed instruments, field recordings), or irretraceable hums that surprise, embrace and occasionally overwhelm, as it happens from the third minute of the fourth chapter, a section that left me aurally unbalanced for a few seconds afterwards. If you start “running after the sounds”, hopelessly trying to anticipate their design amidst the meaninglessness of a life's moment, disappointment lurks behind the corner. Expecting to understand an “architecture” here is a futile exercise which, needless to say, I had immediately implemented with meagre satisfaction. At one point, the explanation came all of a sudden. These are some of that transitory instance's fundamental components – “any moment's music”, if so preferred. Attributing deeper values or implications is dead wrong. The only clear thing is that they exist, ready to vibrate in sympathy within a given microcosm – environmental or corporeal. Mix this record with the whispering airstreams, the cheeping birds and the ricocheting whoosh of a distant town while lying semi-asleep on a couch, and the result is as near to cosmic exactitude as a person might wish. And if the hush of a sealed room is favoured, allow them to adjust your internal resonance rate without fighting.
May 29, 2011
2010 // pierre gerard / shinkei : static forms
1. pierre gerard - wooden mouldings for the assembly (to constantin brancusi)
2. shinkei - untitled
dragon's eye recordings (us) de5028
Filosofi di forme apparentemente statiche, l’italiano David Sani in arte Shinkei e il belga Pierre
Gerard, chiamati in Static Forms ad appoggiare come sempre al silenzio sculture di suono che si
plasmano intorno all’estremo filo dell’udibile.
Difficile trovare due artisti così strettamente legati alle maniere, quelle più radicali delle arti
minimaliste, per intenderci parliamo di musicisti che scelgono di svuotare l’ascolto muovendosi
intorno alle pratiche d’estetica.
Le cose che contanto per Gerard sono durata, soundcolor e dinamica, lo sanno bene i diciotto minuti
di Wooden Mouldings For The Assembly prima traccia di Static Forms in cui continuare il discorso
-iniziato con Plateaux (Koyuki-2009) – sull’area di soglia. A questo si agggiunge una presa di
coscienza dello spazio inteso come contenitore in cui rilevare le ombre cioè gli elementi
impercettibili (note di pianoforte, interruzioni, interferenze o suoni isolati) che giocano tra
movimenti di campo e di volume. Per Shinkei -all’apparenza più legato all’azione – invece l’arte
del dettaglio alla Roden e la poesia degli oggetti di Rilke allaccitta alla pratica della lower case
music e come sempre con la predilezione per suoni prettamente acustici.
Tutto il resto è una continua riflessione sonora tra bassa frequenza, suoni oggetti, field recordings,
sfrigolii di particelle, interruzioni, pieghe e frammenti.
Come diceva Arthur Russell quello spazio estremo (qui in poco più di trenta minuti) in cui non puoi
portarci le percussioni, ma in cui portare la mente.
May 23, 2011
33 minutes subdivided in two individual pieces. Gerard's is the longest one, inspired by John Cage (repeatedly quoted in the press release; let's not forget that those sentences opened the road to all kinds of artistic nonentity, thus I tend to read them with a mixture of perplexity or, if you prefer, unconvinced respect). Unspecified instrumental and environmental sources – some of them identifiable, others not – give life to brief flashes of incidental activity in between silence. These sounds are “just there”, appearing and dying instantly, without pretending of being remembered – and, in fact, they won't. A well-mannered statement, but Bernhard Günter it ain't. Shinkei (David Sani) tends to let the frequencies work a little more, immediately starting with a Francisco López-like subterranean rumble which, right after, leaves room for the kind of micro-activity that is audible only in a completely silent setting, inserting rare notes of a slightly detuned piano for good measure. The blatant noise of rolling glass bottles – or are they? – trashes any good intention, ruining the suspension that the beautiful beginning had created; penetrating electronics manage to save the track from an unexpected disaster. An impressionistic piece, so to speak, that results less disjointed to these ears. However, this ground has become sterile by now, and not from yesterday. To quote Cage again, “we need not fear the silences, we may love them”.
Après l'ambient drone de Wyndel Hunt, voici la deuxième production dont nous parlons cette année et provenant du label Dragon's Eye Recordings, basé à Los Angeles. Il s'agit cette fois d'un split entre deux artistes avec d'une part le liégeois Pierre Gerard et d'autre part l'italien Shinkei.
Pierre Gerard vient de l'art contemporain et alterne entre pratique et recherche avec un goût prononcé pour l'abstraction. Après la peinture, le sculpture et la vidéo, il s'est mit à la musique en 2003 dans un premier temps à base d'objets et field recordings avant de se mettre aux instruments. Shinkei (de son vrai nom David Sani) est certainement un peu plus connu de nos lecteurs puisqu'il créa en 2000 le mail order Microsuoni qui, comme son nom le suggère était dédié au minimalisme et à l'art sonore. Depuis 2008, il dirige le label Koyuki sur lequel on croise FOURM (alias Si_COMM), Steinbruchel, ou encore Yann Novak, le boss de Dragon's Eye Recordings.
On navigue donc dans le petit monde du minimalisme avec pour chacun des deux artistes une pièce unique de 15-18 minutes. Aucune explication ou note d'intention pour accompagner ce disque, si ce n'est une liste de citations de Marcel Duchamp ou John Cage, toutes relatives au silence, point commun des deux œuvres ici présentées. Les deux hommes construisent une musique que l'on qualifiera de musique concrète minimaliste. On décèle de nombreux bruitages, certainement issus de manipulation d'objets, des sonorités électroniques extrêmes, jouant avec les limites de l'audible (sifflement ultra aigu, infra basse), et quelques sonorités instrumentales. Des cordes frottées chez Pierre Gerard, certainement celles d'un violoncelle dont le corps semble être frappé, quelques notes de piano en intro et conclusion chez Shinkei. On aura tendance à trouver le travail du Belge plus proche de la musique concrète, l'Italien faisant plus fréquemment appel à l'électronique, mais les deux hommes jouent de la même manière des silences, interrompant sans cesse leurs instruments pour abandonner l'auditeur dans des failles sonores.
Un album difficile, abstrait, qui demande une réelle participation de l'auditeur, mais sa courte durée semble parfaitement adaptée au propos. Les amateurs de beaux objets seront conquis puisque Dragon's Eye Recordings porte une attention particulière au design de leurs productions, mêlant simplicité et cohérence.
Silence and space are punctuated by tiny electroacoustic gestures on this split CDR. Gerard's piece, "Wooden Mouldings for the Assembly (to Constantin Brancusi)", contains acoustic sounds: piano notes, bass tones and what are possibly woodblocks or found sounds. These are combined with slivers of hiss and static, occasionally panning through the stereo field and and rising in volume.
Shinkei's untitled contribution is more abstracted, the sound sources more difficult to discern. Low rumbles and crisp static roll in and out, leaving silences in their wake. A piano enters the mix, then the sounds of clanking metallic objects and as the static rises in prominence the piece takes on a fuller structure until it recedes to silence again. The following sounds are louder and seem to jump out at you after having got used to the quieter passages.
Friday, August 20, 2010
In place of traditional liner notes for Static Forms , Pierre Gerard, David Sani (Shinkei), and Dragon's Eye Recordings cite quotations by Pierre Gerard, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, all of which reflect on silence, space, and emptiness as aural components. The two long-form settings that make up Static Forms naturally exemplify the qualities in question, with Gerard's “Wooden Mouldings For The Assembly (to Constantin Brancusi),” for example, stitching together minute fragments of electro-acoustic sound into an eighteen-minute amalgam that is as much dedicated to the rests between the sounds as the sounds themselves. That gives the piece a kind of stop-start feel, as whatever forward momentum a musical element introduces is just as quickly curtailed by the pause that's sure to follow. That Gerard's background is in visual art—drawing, engraving, sculpture, painting, and such—can be heard in the way he builds the piece incrementally, alternately physically shaping it with minute clippings of acoustic bass, electronic fizz, plucked strings, and piano and then stepping back to reflect on the work-in-progress before making the next move. Shinkei's untitled fifteen-minute piece is a similarly styled micro-sound (lower case or minimal, if you prefer) setting but one that exchanges a stop-start presentation for constant textural flow. The Microsuoni head and Koyuki label co-founder assembles soft crackle, piano sprinkles, subliminal rumble, and found sounds (rattling noises and the like) into a steadily mutating stream of fluctuating character. Be aware that both pieces are ‘static' sound sculptures that eschew dynamic contrasts and a conventional narrative structure that includes rising action, climax, and resolution.
[ … ]
Este es un CD-R split de artista sonoro y videasta belga Pierre Gerard y el italiano David Sani aka Shinkei quienes presentan una pizza cada uno.
“Wooden Mouldings For The Assembly (to Constantin Brancusi)” por Gerard con 20 minutes de duración de sonidos minimalistas, esto es, indicios de notas de piano, discretos sonidos de bajo, siseo y estática. Los sonidos entran y salen declarando que aquí la opción es la creación de espacios silenciosos.
“Untitled” es la pieza compuesta por el director dell sello Koyuki David Sani donde la estática envuelve todo el tema, mientras que las mudas notas de piano entran y salen y la manipulación de objetos metálicos entregan una cruda textura, un tipo de contraste que encara un sonido puro y minimalista.
This is a slit CD-R by sound and video artist Belgiam Pierre Gerard and Italian David Sani aka Shinkei offering one piece of work each.
“Wooden Mouldings For The Assembly (to Constantin Brancusi)” by Gerard is 20 minutes long track of minimal sounds that is to say hints of piano notes, discrete bass sounds, hiss and static. The sounds come in and out declaring that the option here is the creation of silent spaces.
“Untitled” is the piece composed by Koyuki's label boss David Sani where static aesthetic it wrap up the hole track while a muted piano comes out and the manipulation of metallic objects gives a raw texture, a sort of contrast facing a pure and minimal sound.
Dragon's Eye once again provides us with a fascinating piece of electronic music for our listening pleasure. This work sees Pierre Gerard and Koyuki's David Sani delivering one piece of work each and they really are both leaders in this quiet minimalist style. Gerard's ‘Wooden Mouldings…' is a 20 minute investigation of silence and reductionist sounds. There would appear to be no specific concept behind this piece other than the fact that it exists – and honestly, that's quite good enough for me. Snippets of muted piano and ghostly voices are joined by distant bass rumbles and the occasional moment of hiss or static. Together they create a barely audible sense of isolation and yet it's easy to forget at times that there's anything playing at all. For me that's a strength of this type of work and I enjoy the sensation it creates. Shinkei's untitled track is, in many ways, even more minimal and sparse. There doesn't seem to be a single linking factor or theme between the two tracks but they seem to naturally work together. Sani's work is slightly more high frequency based, but not the type that will impinge on your senses. In the context of the other tones in the piece it's exactly what it demands as the sounds of static, microphone rumble and the rare occurrence of a plucked or percussive instrument work off each other in a wonderful way. In all then this is another extremely fine release from Dragon's Eye and comes recommended for fans of, amongst others, Line and White_Line.
LE SON DU GRISLI
On se souvient de l'oiseau de Brancusi coincé en douane américaine : fallait-il le considérer comme une œuvre d'art ? Les douaniers retournent et retournent encore l'oiseau et les étranges bruits qui en sortent semblent être ceux avec lesquels compose Pierre Gerard dans une pièce qu'il dédie justement au sculpteur. Des bruits faibles entourés par le silence le temps que des interrogations naissent sous la casquette des officiers, un embouteillage d'idées partagées entre l'envie de bien faire et le souci affiché de comprendre de quoi il retourne. Ce sont dans ces soupçons que taille Gerard afin de former une abstraction contenant des propositions musicales en devenir et des copiés-collés qui demandent du volume, et pas qu'un peu.
Une composition non intitulée de David ' Shinkei ' Sani – split oblige – suit la première pièce : des notes de piano optent cette fois pour un art concret sur des grésillements malingres ou la rumeur créée par des objets que l'on traîne à terre ou dont on joue. Des tonnerres de pacotille et des vents factices, un grain menaçant et des apparitions d'ordre numérique. Shinkei revient au piano pour finir, et conclut le disque qu'il se partage avec Pierre Gerard , que l'on appelle Static Forms.
The prolific minimal-lowercase, sound art label, Dragon's Eye Recordings is documenting its own kind of “quiet music” genre with the release of Static Forms. The two track cdr consists of one piece by Pierre Gerard and a track contributed by David Sani aka Shinkei. Though there is no indication that this release was a collaboration other than, presumably, a mutual willingness to share a cdr, it is evident on listening the pairing makes complete sense, with both artists exploring “negative sound space” in very similar ways.
Belgian artist Pierre Gerard comes from a visual background with interests that run the gamut from sculpture and furniture to video making. His music making began as a desire to “…step towards work without palpable matter, firstly with objects and field recording.” In "Wooden Mouldings For The Assembly (To Constrain Brancusi)", Gerard uses fragments of various recorded sound sources to lay down the structure for his moments of composed silences. His sound palette includes electro-acoustic instrumentation consisting of snippets of muted frequency tones, low-key acoustic swells and soft-spoken piano strikes then augmented by the occasional digital glitch or rough edit. It's a sonic vocabulary well explored by other lowercase artists but Gerard is seemingly less concerned with his sound sources, more with the juxtaposition of these edits. The ambient sounds are subservient to invisible objects Gerard is placing and not simply describing an acoustical space. The sound is very tactile, describing sculptural elements that could fit into a room like furniture. It may sound a cliché, but "Wooden Mouldings..." has a properly tweaked aesthetic to it, not unlike the principles of well implemented Feng Shui. My only critique is that the modern art reference in the track title is a bit overdone. For a better reference point, Pierre's quote in the press sheet is more fitting: “The silence that I manufacture, hears only my ears. Like these lengthened forms, often.”
Shinkei begins his track, "Untitled", with a rumble that fades in then pans across the sound field. Surface noise from a turntable rides above the rumble to introduce melancholic sparse piano notes. It's a continuously evolving composition, as glass bottles clank and roll about and then a synthetic hollow noise field slowly simmers up. If I had to compare artists, Italian-born David Sani experiments more with the timbre and qualities of continuous noise to create an armature. Silence is the catalyst allowing his microscopic shapes to crystallize and take form. In fact, this track doesn't seem very static to me at all, as roughly halfway through, Shinkei subtly shifts the approach. His micro-composions begin to melt into a synthetic rainstorm. The rumbles now allude to a synthesized thundercloud. The weather moves fast, the piece speeds up with more activity. I like the pacing, more piano keys interspersed with delicate electronic crickets and then more rumble. The patterns start to stack, then after 15 minutes from where he began, Shinkei brings the track to a close.
Unlike Gerard's contribution, Shinkei seeks to rely more on environmental sounding elements for his composition. The use of silence is important, but its placement fits more in sync perhaps with natural cycles of weather as opposed to man-made forms.
Review by Derek Morton
2009 // pierre gerard : plateaux (for gilles deleuze)
koyuki (it) 007
PIERRE GERARD – Plateaux (For Gilles Deleuze)
In keeping with the typical Koyuki standards Plateaux is very minimal, both in the sonic and the graphic design (the latter courtesy of Luigi Turra). The inexpert ear could easily position it in the undeserved company of less significant onkyo-derived releases, yet this would be terribly wrong, as Gerard knows what he's doing much better than hundreds of so-called “alternative” artists. His sense of event placing is astonishingly acute: there's not a moment in the whole album in which a sound appears unnecessary or unwanted in that particular instance. Speaking of tone and timbre, he masterfully alternates vapour and grain, sequences of hovering low-frequency “presences” interspersed with jagged interruptions and piercing interferences, like needles waking us up from a hypnotic illusion. One feels isolated and enraptured at the same time, the practical incapability of defining the sources of these undersized daydreams an actual advantage. This mixture of dynamic activity, extreme accuracy and mesmerizing minimization of nervous peaks - clocking at the perfect length of half a hour - should not be left disregarded.
Sunday, 17 January 2010
SENTIRE ASCOLTARE : Plateaux / Pierre Gerard / Koyuki sound
Ormai è chiaro che i semi più fertili della scena elettronica minimalista germinano ancora. Dalla nostrana Koyuki arrivano i trenta minuti di Plateaux dell'artista belga Pierre Gérard .
Seguace della più radicale arte minimalista - quella iniziata ai principi della scuola riduzionista di Richard Chartier - Gérard dispone le scritture al minimo, richiamando i più nobili domini in fatto di pratiche d'estetica, fisicità del suono e processi all'ascolto. Egli si distingue però per l'astrazione e l'orientata negazione del superfluo a favore d'impercettibili miniature sonore accuratamente scelte per estremismo d'intervento e scala dell'udibile.
Se avevamo imparato ad impossessarci dello spazio con il movimento e le supefici in stratificate texture, in questo lavoro, a dettare le regole (in bit od elaborata elettroacustica), è la forma strettamente pura, che agisce sull'attesa e quasi in ombra (o sul contrasto scultoreo del segno) a diventare testimonianza di potenzialità sonora vs. silenzio.
Abbiamo un nuovo poeta del silenzio tra noi.
Pierre GÉRARD 'Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze)' CDR
KOYUKI Réf : yuki 007
Né en 1966 à Rocourt en Belgique, Pierre Gérard est un artiste. Et 'Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze)' est une composition, voisine des travaux de Richard Chartier voire de ceux de Roel Meelkop, qui joue avec les limites du perceptible dans une tradition de l'art sonore minimal. Électr(on)ique, discrète, précieuse et solennelle. Tirage limité et numéroté de 100 exemplaires.
Limited edition of 100 hand-numbered copies. Subtile and minimal sound transmitting by belgian sound-visual artist Pierre Gérard. Dedicated to Gilles Deleuze.
Pierre GÉRARD 'Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze)' CDR
Pierre Gerard is a musician from Belgium who probably has an interest in philosophy. For his release Plateaux (For Gilles Deleuze) for Italian label Koyuki he even refers to one of the modern thinkers. I am not really known with the theories by Deleuze so I can't say if the music Pierre Gerard creates fits with this or not.
Though, Gerard himself has a philosophic approach to music which he explains as “the music is the form of creation which enables me best to carry out an object without matter” . You could relate to this as music is a form of art without being able to touch it. The art lies in the form of the sound waves. Things that matter are duration, soundcolor and dynamics. The only physical about music is the media it is brought on (in the case of this album a cd-r).
I think he has a point there. Nowadays with all music being available over the internet, either through file-sharing of digital download shops, to a lot of people the format in which music is published doesn't matter that much anymore. The essence of the music remains the music, and all the extras are fun but are not elementary.
For the release Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze) this theory gets adapted to the sound. Pierre Gerard does not play with harmonies, melodies and rhythms but rather sculptures with sounds. Main ingredient is silence, but when you turn up the volume sounds appear. High pitched sine tones appear and random glitches plop up. In the piece there isn't much development but more to the end there are also sounds appearing which hit the lower side of the spectrum.
This is not really music you can write about very much. There aren't too many surprises but when you have heard more of this kind of minimal music you don't really expect to get some. Either you like this or you don't. For what it is worth I like it but wouldn't play it too often.
reviewed by Sietse van Erve
WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS
Pierre Gerard - Plateaux (for Gilles Deleuze)
(Koyuki yuki 007)
Over the last however many years I've been writing Wonderful Wooden Reasons the number of truly minimalist recordings I've been sent is extremely low yet this month I have two, Wechseljahre Einer Hyäne by Radu Malfatti and this newest release by Belgium composer Pierre Gerard.
This is the sparsest of music. It's barely audible pops, squeaks, hisses and rattles are easily destroyed by the clatter of everyday life but in a quiet and relaxed environment they sing beautifully.
I find music of this sort to be utterly entrancing but equally I find it incredibly difficult to review but hopefully I've said enough to intrigue you into buying.
Ian > WONDERFUL WOODEN REASONS
Vital weekly 's press / number 688
Pierre Gerard has his own release on an Italian label called Koyuki, and things here deal with Gilles Deleuze - the philosopher who was so important for some musicians, but whose writing always eluded me a bit. Gerard writes me: 'the music is the form of creation which enables me best to carry out an object without matter (immateriel in French), some is its dimension, its duration, its form or its color', which, I must admit, doesn't make things much clearer, I guess. The word 'careful' applies here too. Gerard plays electronic music, in the best microsound tradition, but with more silence than say the [-Hyph-] record reviewed elsewhere. It seems to me that he uses feedback in a highly processed and toned down form, to which he has added bits of acoustic sounds, also highly processed. Gerard plays along the lines of Richard Chartier and Roel Meelkop (although lesser of surprise moves here), but certainly has a fine voice of his own. (FdW)
2007 // pierre gerard : voyage au centre
un arbre en bois (be) 006
Vital weekly 's press / number 600 (extract)
PIERRE GERARD - VOYAGE AU CENTRE
(CDR by Un Arbre En Bois)
One very long for solo bass, the shortest one for voice only and in the middle there is a track combining both. However besides these two basic sources, he also uses the computer to process his sounds. To start with the best thing: the title piece, the long one is a highly interesting piece of music. A fine combination of drone like material and microsound; sometimes the bass generates sustained drone pieces, but the whole thing is spiced with collated sounds dropping in and out. After almost thirty-two minutes this might well be enough, but there is two more shorter pieces. In 'Lainage 2' I don't have the idea something is added to what has been said before, but it's o.k. 'Lainage 1' is a superfluous voice based only, which as far I am concerned shouldn't have been included.(FdW)
2008 // pierre gerard : objects in mirror are closer than they appear
Vital weekly 's press / number 639
The second release is by the man from the label and its less audible. To hear it rightly I put on my headphones, which is something I hardly do. The two pieces are inspired by 'the light impact on a car wing mirror in motion' and non-driver Gerard has had the opportunity to observe this day and night. 'Light Of Day' is a very silent piece of sounds moving in and out of the mix, recorded at a very low volume. If microsound means nothing to you, then listen to these isolated sounds moving about in a sea of silence that slow is filled with sinewave like sounds. In 'Front Nights' there is more 'action', and here I think to recognize music instruments. Lots of hiss on some of these sounds, but throughout more happening than in the first piece. Both pieces require an intense listening session, but along the lines of Steve Roden and Roel Meelkop quite enjoyable microsound pieces. (FdW)
bandcamp >> pierre gerard
twitter >> pierre gerard