D’Autres Cordes

Among the startlingly high number of remarkable acousmatic records recently received by this delighted addict, Samuel Sighicelli’s Marée Noire undeniably stands in my personal top three, possibly fighting for higher honours. That’s right, it’s that good: a flawlessly designed piece, all the resources and materials holding individual nature while functioning magnificently in a broad-spectrum milieu. And, last but not least, it lasts only half a hour, which is more than enough when the ideas are clear from the start. The young composer (1972), principally a pianist, studied with Gérard Grisey; Marée Noire was a commission from INA-GRM. So, what did Sighicelli use to achieve such quality? In his own words: a ball game, airports, the sea and different environments as external source material, with piano, organ, synthesizer and sampler, and electric and acoustic bass (courtesy Bruno Chevillon) as timbral substance in the studio. The rest is vision, cinematic temperament, ability to interconnect and shuffle the procession of events – and insight. Plus a profound sensitivity that, despite my poor knowledge of the French language, is expounded by certain concerns in the liner notes, about a world “drugged by oil”: the album title means “oil slick”, and the blurred black-and-white visuals adorning the cover are self-explanatory.