Pierre Henry

Noire à Soixante & La Noire à Soixante + Granulométrie

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This LP was released in Philips' groundbreaking "Prospective 21e Siècle" series circa 1969. It closed a cycle in Pierre Henry's work and features two side-long pieces that would have little exposure afterwards, a lot less than "Voile d'Orphée" or "Variations pour une Porte et un Soupir." "La Noire à Soixante" dates from 1961. At its heart are the 1,415 beats of a metronome set to 60 bpm (one beat per second). The piece slowly grows from almost nothing to thunderous outbursts, all the while dragging with it anguish-inducing pockets of silence. The metronome track is constantly modified: beats are stripped out, transformed or interrupted by intrusions from drums, electronics, "hush" vocal sounds. The piece has an "oulipo" quality to it, its deconstructive architecture is playful despite the harsh results. "Granulométrie" was completed in 1962. It is an electroacoustic etude of François Dufrêne's voice. The sound poet's atavistic vocalizations are transformed and reorchestrated into a mesmerizing chant. In 1968, in a Cagean flash of inspiration, Henry combined both pieces, laying one on top of the other to create "La Noire à Soixante + Granulométrie." This deceptively simple artistic gesture has given us a claustrophobic work, the solemnity of the first component trapping Dufrêne's voice into a cage. It sounds like the wordless cries of a man down to his last breath and desperately trying to escape from something that could be time itself. Very powerful.

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