Boomkat Product Review:
Four staggering, previously unreleased Luc Ferrari works c.1973-1992 are cued up for the first time, marking what would have been the late, great electro-acoustic pioneer’s 90th birthday.
As co-founder of the GRM in 1958 with Pierre Schaeffer, and behind dozens of singular LPs during the 2nd half of the 20th century, Luc Ferrari (1929-2005) is by any measure one of the legends of musique electro-acoustique. As his treasured archive continues to turn out gems on the Recollection GRM series, Ferrari’s precious, poetic work now joins that of peers such as Bernard Parmegiani and François Bayle on Transversales Disques, the label run by GRM’s audio restoration engineer, Jonathan Fitoussi, with four pieces spanning psychedelic surrealism thru to a sort of late ‘80s sci-fi romance.
Known as the poet of the GRM and concrète disciplines, Ferrari’s exceptional recordings leant away from academic exercises to inventively express a synthesis of styles that simultaneously intersected minimalism, musical theatre, field recordings, orchestral music and soundtracks. The four pieces of ‘Photophonie’ beautifully and thrillingly speak to Ferrari’s grasp of the sonosphere and its omnipresent plurality with a deftness of arrangement and overarching vision that that sounds both of its era and also within its own parallel dream dimension.
Written for a photographic exhibition by Alain Willhaume, the opening, 25’ long first piece ‘Photophonie’ (1989) emerges like an MTV ident, and continues like some hypermodern deco-dance work, all fractured shrapnel and acres of negative space, but soon flows out into a remarkable tract of vast ambient space conveying the sensation of exploring an abandoned space station, only to find some whispering French and German characters surviving in its bowels. If weren’t told otherwise, this work could have easily been the modern day soundtrack to something like ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow.’
The other side scrolls back to 1973 with ‘Il état une fois’, a 17’ piece spanning field recordings thru to queasy drones and cartoonish honks which perhaps sounds more of its time, but then again recalls Rashad Becker’s music for notional species gone to an alien fairground, while an all too brief snippet of ‘Trans Voices’ (1992) gives way to a lather of sampled voices, choral drones and pulsating rhythm in ’Tu m’écoutes’ (1975) that holds among the darkest and proto-acidic/technoid works we’ve heard from Ferrari, at the least.
Whether you’re an expert or novice to Ferrari’s oeuvre, trust this one’s definitely worth your time.