The Belgian label Sub Rosa has a whole series of CDs documenting spoken word and sound poetry, but Soliloques is a slightly different beast. Here, sound poet Gabriel Séverin performs texts by Arthur Rimbaud (from his Illuminations), Henri Michaux (from his travel diary Ecuador), plus several selections from Michel Thévoz's anthologies of "Écrits Bruts" (think Art Brut applied to literature). These are not readings but actual performances, enactions of the texts through mouth and microphones. Note the plural: Séverin experiments a lot with microphone placement and mix-down of several sources. Some tracks have been recorded in the wild, using both close-up and distant mikes. Others are captured in the studio (including a microphone outside the studio to add field recordings of the surrounding area). But most importantly, on all tracks, Séverin has a mike under his chin, close to his throat, and there are electronics involved, too. As a result, his voice never sounds natural, and often gets an altered, affected, even threatening or robotic-sounding tone that keeps on destabilizing the listener. All texts are French, so French-deaf listeners will find this CD of little interest, for the experimental sonics can't support the whole album on their own. On the other hand, Soliloques dusts off a little-known literary corpus.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture