The Sub Rosa label has already exhumed a wide variety of early Dada-inspired vocal performances via other compilations, but on Dada, Pansaers and Correspondances, the first of three projected volumes, the emphasis is more but not entirely on documentary audio history, collecting a variety of reminiscences and discussions from various participants in the artistic activities covered in the 1917-1926 period in Belgium. The recordings themselves come from archival interviews mostly dating from the late '60s and early '70s, so their appearance here is more in the manner of compilation rather than intentional project. Those not familiar with French will find this collection less rewarding -- the emphasis here is not on the direct play of words and language that made Dada so readily able to transcend national and linguistic boundaries, but relating events, influences, and anecdotes in general. Some performances do exist, including a 1954 recitation of "Tous les Vents Me Traversent" and "Testament" by Franz Hellens, but they are in the minority. The largest portions of the disc are given over to discussions of Clément Pansaers, editor of the 1917-1918 periodical Résurrection among other work, and the leaflet series Correspondance, based around a core of three, then five participants. Briefer selections cover the periodical ca ira!, some of the circle around writer Henri Michaux, and, at the start, a very rare recording of James Ensor from a retrospective exhibition of his work in 1929. Liner notes in French and English cover the material well enough, with compiler Guy Marc Hinant engagingly admitting: "I know I have not been exhaustive. This platform has holes."
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett