JEAN-LUC GUIONNET: Gezurrezko joera


Artista:Jean-Luc Guionnet
Argitaratzailea: audiolab
Urtea: 2009

Jean-Luc Guionnet musikariak Berako (Nafarroa) Altzateko elizan, ERTZ bertze musikan jaialdiaren 2008ko edizioaren barnean, egindako organo (ez organo) kontzertuaren errejistroa gordetzen du honako CD honek. Kontzertu berezia zalantzarik gabe, Guionnetek edukiak ezik musika tresna bera inprobisatu behar izan bait zuen, organoak ez baitzuen behar bezala funtzionatu. Edozein modutan, inprobisazio- soinu-difusio gogor, indartsu, zaratatsu eta aldiberean txundigarri honek bertze batez musikari frantses honen talentu paregabe agerian uzten du.

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    Au début on se demande si c’est pas notre lecteur CD qui rends l’âme ou si les micros n’étaient pas tombés dans l’eau avant de capter ce concert, ou encore si les batteries de l’enregistreur n’étaient pas à plat ! Puis on se dit que l’orgue doit être quelque peu électrique ! Ensuite on écoute Jean-Luc Guionnet enregistré live le 14 septembre 2008 dans une église à Bera et on tombe le cul par terre devant tant de puissance ! Une musique improvisée mais pensée électroacoustique qui réveille les morts ! Du drone anti-drone qui empêche tout confort d’écoute ! De la sauvagerie xenakienne ! Recommandé et même plus !

    Paris Transatlantic

    The title, translated from Basque, means “a tendency to lie”, a vague reference to the motivations behind this set, recorded at the Altzate Church of Bera (Nafarroa) during the 2008 edition of the ERTZ Other Music festival. Guionnet was supposed to perform a solo concert on the church organ but found a completely different situation waiting for him: instead of majestic lines of pipes spreading along the walls, he got a malfunctioning electric instrument and a PA. Making a virtue of necessity, he launched himself in an improvisation that exploited everything that wasn’t working, and then some. At first, we’re welcomed by seemingly interminable silence, broken only by the outside traffic noise (”oh no, here we go again” my initial reaction in anticipation of the umpteenth helping of reductionist imbecility), but then Guionnet starts kicking the beast quite effectively, producing a series of crusty noises and incoherent hammered changes – imagine trying to listen to Radio Vaticana in a sandstorm. When the derelict “organ” accepts that Guionnet is indeed the man to bring it back to life, the fun really begins. Earthquake-like vibrations in the low register stretched together with high-pitched codes get jumbled in massive superimpositions of disfigured harmonic stasis, ultimately collapsing into stylistic degeneration. Stabbing fixity and threatening emphasis overwhelm a quiet audience. Anyone remember Thomas Demenga and Heinz Reber’s Cellorganics? Guionnet lands (involuntarily) in similar territory, the resulting music perhaps a little more dramatic, stripped bare without rounded corners or concessions to easiness. The warm applause saluting him at the conclusion is unquestionably deserved.–MR

    Just Outside Brian Olewnick

    From what I can gather (thanks, Jacques!) the Basque title translates roughly to “Non-Organic Bias”. My initial attempt rendered something on the order of “On the Wrong Path”, which I kind of like better. What apparently transpired here is that Guionnet went to the church in Bera expecting to encounter a standard church organ, instead finding himself confronted with a small electric one; it’s basic sound reminds me very much of those used in the original recording of Reich’s “Four Organs”. Perhaps all to the good as he constructs a fine, fractured recital, often balancing on the electric interstice between sound and the noise that results barely connecting contacts. It’s a serious, even meditative performance with something of a brooding nature, very strong. Guionnet makes references to “standard” church organ playing (enhanced by the room’s acoustics which allow for a long decay) but consistently undercuts them, steering them down lanes that lead to noise and disruption; but the historic tinge lingers. Good stuff, perhaps my favorite of those releases of his I’ve heard.

    The Watchful Ear Richard Pinnell

    Bitterly cold again today. The snow held off, thankfully, but temperatures stayed well down below zero, so the snow remains but now packed down tight so that every surface feels like an icerink. I fell over three times today and I think I got off lightly at that. Tomorrow I go to work very very early indeed in the hope I can get away mid afternoon and make my way over to London for this concert. Whether I manage it, or perhaps more pertinently whether I get home again remains to be seen. I have just heard a few minutes ago that Sebastian Lexer will not now be playing, having been left stranded by the weather in Germany. I’m not sure just yet if his place will be taken by anyone else, but the concert is still going ahead, barring any further developments.

    Tonight I have been listening to some really difficult music played by one of the musicians performing tomorrow. Although Jean-Luc Guionnet will presumably be playing sax tomorrow, this new album released by the Arteleku organisation (The same Basque outift that recently published the partly excellent Noise and Capitalism book) is named Gezurrezko joera and is another performance by Guionnet for church organ. Guionnet’s organ albums (I think this is the fourth solo, plus there has been at least one collaborative album) seem to really split audiences into two camps, those that find it intriguingly good, and those that really hate it. I personally sit in the former camp. Brian Olewnick managed to get around to briefly reviewing this album a few weeks back here, and he managed to get someone to translate the sleevenotes, which are entirely in Basque for him. The title of the album seems to translate as Non-Organic Bias, which is also the title of his last organ album, which I wrote about here and here. According to Brian’s seemingly reliable translation, the music is performed on a smaller electric church organ, which came as a surprise to Guionnet, as he was expecting a larger, more traditional instrument when he arrived at the church in Bera to perform the live concert captured here. Certainly, even though only a smaller organ is used there is still a very big sound to be heard here, partly because the church itself acts as a huge resonating vessel, letting each burst of organ slowly decay around the probably vast room.

    I describe Guionnet’s organ music as difficult, simply because it is generally quite fractured and unlike what we normally expect when we hear the unmistakeable sound of such an instrument. On this disc, which lasts just about three quarters of an hour the music mostly consists of little stabs and disconnected threads of sound, spaced apart by little silences. The usual harmonic approach to the instrument is ignored completely, and the approach often taken by avant garde musicians tackling the organ, using it to generate dense drones is also sidestepped. The actual sounds we hear are partly instantly recognisable as organ sounds, and partly dissonant noise, though exactly how these are generated I am not sure. It is the way they are arranged though, in a nervous, stuttering, disconnected manner that gives the music its shape and somewhat hard to grasp form. There seems to be no overriding compositional structure to the piece, and as an attentive listener you are left hanging on each little fragment of sound, awaiting the enxt, which might come a second later, but may be delayed further, trying to make sense of it all.

    Part of the difficulty of the music comes from the massive weight of history bearing down upon Guionnet’s instrument here. Even when I try and switch off all expectations and ignore what I have heard before of organs it is hard to hear these sounds played in such an abstract manner and not see them as disjointed and awkward, simply because of what I am used to. The angular, deconstructed form of the music does not sound right in the church space, and that warm, resonant sound doe snot seem to fit the music it has been applied to. Clearly this is just the human being’s natural tendencies to relate certain sounds to certain musical forms kicking in, but Guionnet seems to use this to unsettle us that little bit more, create something that sounds and feels awkward, uncomfortable and almost broken in nature.

    Occasionally the sounds drop away to distant whispers, sometimes they slip into short droney moments, but still with jagged edges, but overall the sensation is one of sharp, dislocated passages that are hard to piece together into a whole. The listening experience is a bit like trying to put the pieces back together from a smashed vase. At first it feels like it should all come together easily but once you start to decipher it all it gets progressively more difficult. This is where I found a lot of pleasure in the album though. trying to ignore the weight of history bearing down on the sounds here, and instead trying to just take the music as a series of building blocks placed beside each other is a very tough, but equally rewarding experience. There is no easy listening to be had here, there is no way you can just leave this one to run in the background and expect to get anything from it other than mild aggravation, but engaging with this somewhat foreign language and trying to find meaning in it is a rewarding experience. I enjoyed Gezurrezko joera a lot, but I bet not many others will.

    Say hi if you are at the concert tomorrow.

Zure iritzia eman

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