Cycle des Souvenirs

Luc Ferrari

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Cycle des Souvenirs Review

by Dan Warburton

Cycle des Souvenirs was originally an installation for six CD players and four video projectors (the idea of multiple eternally looping tapes dates back to the original installation version of Luc Ferrari's "Music Promenade" in the mid-1960s, and was also incorporated instrumentally in 1970s "Tautologos 3"). Each of the six CDs (for the mixdown into this single-CD version, Ferrari simply started them off at one-minute intervals) contains ten spans of sound -- two two-minute spoken texts, four five-minute "ambiences" recordings of "sounds of everyday life," and four four-minute composed "tonalities" or "harmonic threads," chosen by selecting notes at random. The "ambiences" include exquisite field recordings of the Parisian streets where Ferrari grew up, as well as seaside and insect soundscapes recalling the "Presque Rien" series, a snippet of Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso," and even, apparently, the sound of the composer's wife putting on makeup. They're beautifully recorded and far more interesting than the tonal threads, whose beats and spacey synths do little to spice up the post-impressionist soup. The composer's texts, which are, depending on your point of view, either mildly soporific or gently erotic, are read in three languages with characteristic hushed intimacy.

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