Various Artists

33 RPM: Ten Hours of Sounds from France

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No, this is not a multiple-CD box set, but a single CD produced to act as a companion to the sound exhibition 33 RPM: Ten Hours of Sound from France, presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) in September 2003. Co-produced by SFMOMA and the label 23Five, the CD presents 68 minutes worth of music taken from the ten hours of material selected by curator Laurent Dailleau. The exhibition presented an overview of the last 50 years in French sound art. This CD focuses on its latest developments, eschewing the historical names (Pierre Schaeffer, Luc Ferrari) in favor of younger artists with fresh approaches. The only pioneer represented here is Jean-Claude Risset (one of the first composers to have used the computer), but his three short pieces are from 2002. Most of the music could be described as experimental laptop electronica, electro-acoustic improvisation, or electro-acoustics. The album begins with "PURR#2" by Art Zoyd alumni Kasper T. Toeplitz playing a computer/electric bass hybrid. The piece is dark and rich in complex textures. Kristoff K. Roll's "Zócalo Masqué" is typically evocative of spatial displacement and provides one of the set's highlights, together with Lionel Marchetti's "À Rebours" -- an early composition from 1989 dominated by a fragmented tango motif at the accordion -- and Dailleau's own "It Was Too Dark to Hear Anything." Things get glitchier and noisier in the last 20 minutes, with contributions from pizMO, Jean-Philippe Gross, and Mimetic, the latter the only artist using rhythm as a structural element. This album does not offer a representative overview of the state of sound art in France in the early 2000s, but an interesting and varied selection of tracks taken from a larger, more ambitious selection.

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