Sophie Agnel


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Pianist Sophie Agnel has recorded with Lionel Marchetti and the reductionist improv group Phosphor. Guitarist Olivier Benoit has released a duo album with Jean-Luc Guionnet. Both improvisers follow a path of constant experimentation that has led them very far from traditional techniques. Recorded over three days, during a residency at La Muse en Circuit in November 2002, Rip-Stop is a meeting of musical soulmates. The music, demanding, uncompromising, is full of surprising twists and turns. Agnel is credited for piano and mechanics; Benoit for guitar and electricity. It is not that simple. Playing more often inside the piano than over the keys and using a wide array of preparations the nature of which the ear can only begin to guess, Agnel defies the limitations of the instrument (does it have any?). But even though she manages to push its sounds into territories where distinctions like acoustic or electric mean very little, the essence of the piano remains detectable throughout the set. The same cannot be said of Benoit's guitar; brushed and struck in ways once again alien to the ear, it resonates, growls, and hums, its sounds blending with the piano's in inextricable ways. It seems that engineer Etienne Bultingaire has chosen to capture the music from afar, letting the sounds mesh together before picking them up. The music is intense, highly focused, and provoking. "rs -- 3" stands out because it achieves the maximum level of interpenetration between piano and guitar. Some listeners may not like the distance established between performance and recording, but the results are worth investigating nonetheless.

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