Noël Akchoté

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Impro-Micro-Acoustique Review

by François Couture

Luc Ferrari goes improv. In February of 2001, the composer and pioneer of French musique concrète invited guitarist Noël Akchoté and percussionist Roland Auzet into his studio/laboratory La Muse en Circuit to record his first free improvisation session ever. The man, whose music can be traced back as early as the 1950s, chose the piano as his main instrument, but all three musicians also had access to a wide array of small objects. Each also had a handheld microphone, amplifier, and loudspeakers, providing a number of different sonic perspectives. Impro-Micro Acoustique is Ferrari's mix-down of those perspectives. All three musicians are resourceful explorers of the little-heard sound. Akchoté sounds a bit more discreet than his usual self, careful to leave room for his colleagues, yet weaving his own contrapuntal voice into the music. A percussionist of contemporary classical training, Auzet adds a lot of drama and playfulness to the music. Ferrari spends most of his time inside the piano, plucking and bowing the strings, hitting the frame, and dropping objects. The track titles are programmatic: "Sur le Contraste" explores dynamic contrasts in a way that is too predictable and clunky. "Sur la Pulsation" and "Sur le Rythme" respectively focus on pulse and rhythm. The latter runs a bit long, but includes many savory moments, including a section featuring Auzet on glockenspiel and someone (Ferrari?) talking into a megaphone. It is a busy, highly entertaining piece. "Sur le Minimum" sticks to small gestures and silence, while the topic of "Sur le Continu" is the drone. A lush blend of cymbal and metal-sheet washes and bowed strings, it benefits from Ferrari's multi-perspective approach. Impro-Micro Acoustique is not improv-record-of-the-year material, but it is a very honest album and it makes you wonder what would have happened if, 40 years ago, Ferrari had started playing with improvisers instead of composing for them.

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