For his first CD, Laurent Grappe has created a fascinating electro-acoustic tale. Le Luxe de la Réflexion! (The Luxury of Reflection!) blurs distinctions between field recording and acousmatics, urban and rural, French and Arab. At the center of the work is Isabelle Bassil, a Lebanese woman splitting her time between France and Lebanon. Her life experience, bridging two cultures, provides the main thread. Her interventions are spoken in Arab and other protagonists speak French, but comprehension of any or both languages is not a requisite to appreciate the listening experience -- the same way understanding Spanish did not constitute an obstacle in Kristoff K. Roll's South American sonic travel diary, Corazon Road. Grappe plays with the sound of speech, the emotions it conveys on a musical level transcending linguistic signification. His sound constructions at times evoke Fred Frith's soundtrack to the film Middle of the Moment: atmospheric nomadic journeys into another culture. In other places, the music is resolutely musique concrète. The three "Interludes" feature vocal performances similar to Shelley Hirsch or Joane Hétu. Although a reduction of "life," Le Luxe de la Réflexion! feels surprisingly non-abstract. Of course, the unsuspecting listener will be destabilized, but most sound elements are traceable to their sources and many bits of music are left untouched. It makes a rewarding listening experience, even for seasoned sound art fans -- a very impressive debut.
AllMusic Review by François Couture