And/OAR – Alluvial
The ability of a CD to satisfactorily recreate the experience of walking through a sound installation is limited, to say the least, yet labels like Dale Lloyd’s And/OAR and Alluvial keep going against the odds, releasing important documents that more often than not approach “masterpiece” status in this particular area. In this instance, Eric Cordier, Jean-Luc Guionnet and Eric La Casa recorded a live performance at La Manufacture des Chaussures in Bordeaux, six hours of sounds specifically conceived to be used in the inner zones of Bordeaux’s TNT Cultural Centre. The artists decided to mix prerecorded sounds together with those of the urban surroundings, extending cables throughout the Centre, installing condenser and contact microphones and channelling everything to a mixing desk manned in real time by La Casa, who modified and filtered the incoming results. The mix was played in TNT’s concert hall by eight speakers, the three men working on the first floor of the building while people walked and listened on the ground floor. But none of this theoretical babble will prepare you for the uncertain weather of Bordeaux TNT, a 51-minute piece where the manipulation is almost undetectable, all sounds maintaining their basic attributes even in the most unpredictable moments. Screaming children and barking dogs are engulfed in a nocturnal dimness amalgamating the noise of traffic and the scary silence of a blind alley. The pulsing complex structure of vibrations (Guionnet is credited with “long string recording devices”) had me thinking of Paul Panhuysen flying a miniature plane sitting on a café terrasse. Every once in a while a passing car roars louder, yet everything is organically linked in an obscure but perfectly functional mechanism of sonic circulation, a perfect example of how such projects should be realised. Above all, Afflux succeed in reminding us of the beauty of long-distance urban/industrial murmur, inviting us to leave our mental windows open, to change the air a little bit.