Various Artists

Noli Me Legere... To Maurice Blanchot

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French philosopher and author Maurice Blanchot died on February 20, 2003, at the age of 95. His unclassifiable writings have gained him a cult following, especially in experimental music circles, even more so in such circles where stripping down the musical discourse is felt as a necessity. Enter this collaborative project spearheaded by the fine Portuguese label Sirr. Noli Me Legere culls seven works from as many artists, some of the most respected names in the fields of lowercase and microsound (if these labels still mean something). One can see this album as a tribute to Blanchot, a metaphorical reflection on his work taken as a whole, or simply a very seductive introduction to the quieter side of sound art. Brandon LaBelle's "The One Who Is Standing Close to Me" and Julien Ottavi's "Rassarcissment" are the only slightly unsatisfying pieces -- the first one because it sticks too close to its own rules, the second because of its starkness. Everything else is pure delight, from minimalist gestures to engrossing sound collages. With "I," Christof Migone revisits the human body in a way similar to his previous project, Crackers, except that this time around the sole sound source is a man manipulating his eyes: stretched eyelids, squished eyeballs, whistling tear ducts and all. Slightly disgusting at first, the piece evolves into an orgiastic fountain of sounds as Migone transforms the raw materials into something you will have to hear to believe. Paulo Raposo's "The One Who Is Standing Apart from Me" and Stephen Vitiello's "Essential Perversions" offer two takes on rearranged field recordings. The former includes instrumental passages and is much more dreamy and evocative than the latter, witty and almost satirical. In "Thomas Sat Down and Looked at the Sea," Steve Roden continues to explore the possibilities of minimal repetitive melodies he previously mapped on his solo CD for Sirr, Speak No More About the Leaves. Toshiya Tsunoda's contribution offers another of his auditory perception oddities, "Cicada Chorus Resonating a Bottle Inside a Bottle," which is exactly what it says. This is an essential collection for the aficionado and the newcomer alike.