It is a little strange to find a CD by French electro-acoustic artist Jean-Luc Guionnet on the noise label Ground Fault, but then again musique concrète can be seen from an avant-garde noise perspective. The three extended (16- to 28-minute) works included on Axène were created between 1989 and 1996 and had not been released before. In "Ivraie/Baragnes," recorded for an André Almuro film by the same title, and "Ressac/Ressac," the composer favors textures over plasticity. Both pieces have drones and the sounds of water and wood at their basis. Non-linear, these sound events are meshed together to form the soundtrack of a trek of some kind. Concrète and synthesized sounds intervene, arousing new imageries. "Ressac/Ressac" is embedded in a strong ocean theme (ressac means undertow), waves of sounds slowly approaching to crash gracefully at the listener's feet. Slotted between these two works, "Axène" becomes all the more academic and cold. This piece follows more traditional aesthetics of sound sculpting, Ina GRM-style. It lacks the movement and ambition to really captivate. But the two longer pieces are definitely worth hearing, especially for those favoring atmospheric electro-acoustics.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture