Henri Chopin

Les Mirifiques Tundras & Compangnie

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As a sound poet, Henri Chopin uses the voice as a paintbrush, to create abstract textures that go far beyond what one would typically call "spoken word." In fact, the three tracks on Les Mirifiques are almost completely devoid of words or even the sounds of letters, though all the noises one hears are made with Chopin's mouth and throat. The aptly titled "La Digestion" from 1972, with its clanks, chomps, and slurps, has sounds getting eaten, moving through one tract after another, getting broken down into smaller particles of noise. There is a full range of sound here, from loud staccato rhythms to slow heaves of throat noise, though always with a sense of moving forward. "Les Pirouettes Vocales," recorded in 1995, was Chopin's final audio poem and consists of breathing sounds, clicking noises, and even, at one moment, a breath turning into an explosion of sound. "Les Souffles des Tempetes" ("the breath of winds") from 1993 offers sustained breath noises, intake and outtake like a tide, at different rhythms as the process is sped-up or slowed-down. Mirifiques is another fascinating document from this avant-garde sound-artist, though not exactly easy listening by any sense of the word.