For his first full-length CD (after a couple of 3" CDs on the French label Metamkine), Lionel Marchetti released a very puzzling, disturbing, and (let's admit it) fascinating record. Knud un Nom de Serpent (Le Cercle des Entrailles) (which translates to Knud a Serpent's Name [The Circle of Entrails]) is a 70-minute cycle of electro-acoustic pieces inspired by Shamanism. The composer mostly works with citations through sound collage. By bringing together widely different sound sources, he lets new meanings emerge. Readings (mostly in French) are found side by side with African, Arabian, and Asian music, treated sounds, vocal sounds (screams), animal sounds, and identifiable snippets of music taken from the Occidental man's cultural heritage. The opening piece, "Un: La Quête des Pouvoirs," may be the most striking: For the first minutes, a Shaman chants an incantation. Eventually, a cheesy religious song (cheap organ and unsteady voice) played from an old LP finds its way on top of the Shaman, evoking the whole context of colonialism: brutally simple and powerful. The more the album moves forward, the more the music becomes fragmented: sound sources are multiplied, some of them recurring from one piece to the next; climates change abruptly. After a first complete hearing, the listener feels dizzy and conscious of the fact that many symbols eluded him. Knowledge of Mircia Eliade's book Shamanism and Archaic States of Ecstasy can help to reach a deeper understanding of the work. In any case, this harsh construction, full of asperities and light-years away from clinical musique concrete, can provide hours over hours of aural titillation. Strongly recommended, but only to experimental ears exempt from any purist reactions. Knud un Nom de Serpent (Le Cercle des Entrailles) was released on the American label Intransitive in a limited edition of 500 numbered copies.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture