Simply billed to Macé, Circulations is an impressive hourlong electro-acoustic work by composer Pierre-Yves Macé and his second album (after a lukewarm debut released on Tzadik). Making the best of a residency at Euphonia (Marseille), he first wrote four solo pieces for percussion, electric guitar, harp, and clarinet. At Euphonia, he rehearsed these solos with musicians Frédéric Doumas, Rémy Décrouy, Rafaëlle Rinaudo, and Agathe Fourneau (respectively) and recorded them. Then, Macé composed a tape part for each solo, using the sound materials provided by the recorded solos. He finally recorded each musician performing his or her solo part against a playback of the tape part. Thus, Circulations is a mixed work for tape and instruments similar in conception to Arturo Parra's Parr(a)cousmatique project, but the similarities end there. Macé's take on electro-acoustics has a certain outsider feel to it, with strong references to rock and noise, instead of academia. The result is a very dense, compelling, demanding cycle. Each movement has its dedicated soloist but features all four instruments in more or less processed form. This means that the solo voice often loses itself amidst artificially created dialogues. The listener feels compelled to relocate the soloist, to try to isolate his or her part, and this game of hide and seek becomes the "circulations" announced by the title, the core dynamics of the work. That being said, Circulations manages to capture the attention even if you don't know its nuts and bolts. Macé's writing is lively and non-repetitive, closer to an intricate form of collage than digital sound processing. Even after 50 minutes of music, he still finds new ways to reintroduce his sound materials. The rhythm is ominous, even though it can be quite deconstructed at times, and there is even an episode of post-rock in the second movement. Somewhere between the spontaneous art of live sampling and the serious wizardry of electro-acoustic music, Circulations is a major musical statement from a very young composer.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture