Folie/Culture was a surprising shot in the dark. Its composer, then a young artist from Québec City, was only beginning to stir the waters of sound art in his native land -- and unknown to the British public, despite a first album on Recommended in 1987. If this second opus had appeared ten years later it would have fit the lowercase aesthetic. At the time of its release, it hovered above the music press like a UFO. Folie/Culture is a four-part piece of wallpaper music -- and assumed to be, the composer urging the listener to set the volume so that it blends with ambient sounds. Mastered very low, "Partie 1" begins with the trickle of two drops of water, followed by various sounds you could hear at home (passing traffic, faint conversations, doors opened and shut) interspersed with long moments of silence. As listeners progress into the suite, "musical" material emanating from a piano becomes more prominent and gradually altered. "Partie 4" features mostly piano arpeggios treated through granular synthesis. Even at its peak, the music remains evanescent, blurred into the listener's daily environment. Robert adds an "optional piece," a delicate acoustic guitar tune (overdubbed with each take moving slightly in and out of sync) meant to be inserted in the suite to create a pause -- and provide a "real" musical moment that only enhances the alienating nature of what surrounds it. This album shows how visionary Robert was right from the start. After this album he co-founded the Avatar collective and released many experimental works on its label, Ohm Editions (the only one approaching Folie/Culture in spirit and style is 20 Moments Blancs Lents).
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AllMusic Review by François Couture