Boomkat Product Review:
Ex-GRM boss François Bayle deconstructs the act of listening on this mind-boggling set, using vocal edits, metallic clanks, drones, corrupted environmental sounds and ensemble recordings to prompt a complete purge of our cultural education. There's nobody else doing it quite like it.
A true legend in the musique concrète world, Bayle was the director of the GRM for over three decades, during which time he developed the group's notorious sound diffusion system, started the INA-GRM label and coined the term "acousmatic music". He's still sculpting vital, challenging work, and 'Le Projet << Ouïr >>' was composed between 2015 and 2019, advancing his previous research into listening and wondering if it's possible to break from learned niceties to find new ways of engagement. His expertly developed concrète techniques are on show from the off, as he sprays voices into incoherent soundon opening abstraction 'Qui'. Scrubbing words into garbled granulations and juxtaposing them with crowd noise and watery splashes, he forces us to consider the texture of the sources and the reason they're being synchronised. It's hard to listen with a contemporary ear and not draw lines to the maximalism of SOPHIE in Bayle's precise but playful jump cuts and aural illusions. His innovations have helped guide contemporary experimental music with an almost invisible hand, and presented here they come off as incendiary and prescient.
This droll but rigorous mood carries into 'Comme...', where Bayle places an orchestra of mutant bell sounds alongside scrappily played instruments, jazzy drum rolls, orchestra tune-ups and rushing environmental recordings. He intentionally subverts our expectations by confusing vastly different modes of listening; the trickle of a stream is given the same prominance a pompous chamber recording, a live band, or the sound of a passing herd of goats. Bayle's processes are subtle here, because it's the cutting and blending that's most important - we're given the chance to hear the elements without any hierarchy, and it's fascinating to witness.
If it's dense, deliberate methodology you're after, skip over to 'Vers...', a fog of cosmic gasses and stargazing vapor trails that has us guessing his source material. There are instruments in there somewhere, but they've been stretched and chiseled into boiled hisses and discomfiting rattles. Is it a flute, or an oscillator? A landslide or a string quartet? Bayle doesn't give us any answers, he wants us to draw our own conclusions and listen closely, not necessarily deeply.