Formanex

Pic-nic

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AllMusic Review by

For this album, Formanex commissioned a piece from composer Jérôme Joy, who is actually more a programmer than a composer. With the help of Fabrice Gallis, Joy devised a computer program and set-up that would "conduct" the laptop ensemble, i.e. receive each musician's input, select the material, transform it and spatialize it. The "conductor" follows erratic, non-musical rules that are kept beyond the grasp of the musicians, who are therefore left to perform against a totalitarian conductor. Live, the performance took place with laptop musicians Anthony Taillard, Christophe Havard, Julien Ottavi and Emmanuel Leduc playing at a table, and Joy and Gallis facing them, both parties passing scribbled pieces of paper back and forth during the performance, the musicians trying to coordinate against the machine, to organize a resistance of sorts while the "makers" were modifying parameters in order to compensate. The concept is extremely interesting in its musical and political aspects. On the other hand, the resulting music lacks excitement. The single 67-minute-piece is generally very quiet, matching the aesthetics of the electro-acoustic improv scene. At first the computer chops up the sounds, selecting only microscopic bursts spread out in empty space. Gradually it seems the musicians gain some ground, but the music never truly coalesces. Its random aspect prevails, preventing any organic character to develop. That being said, there are some gripping episodes (rendered even stranger by the fact that the listener has no way to know how much of the tension felt is actually accidental), and the concept itself certainly deserves some attention. Instead of musicians playing a composition that allows room for improvisation, here we have improvisers set free but having no control over what happens to what they play.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
01:09:17
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