HEY! Get updates to this and the CD and 7" blogs via Twitter: @VinylUnderbite

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Jean-Jacques Birgé / Francis Gorgé / Shiroc - 'défense de' (Mio)

Bring on the space juice! This intensely visionary work was recorded in 1975 and it resembles little else in the sound universe. You can hear some hints of similarity, particularly with other French weirdness like Berrocal's early records, and some jammy synth jazz, but this is some of the weirdest shit you'll find this side of Sun Ra. There's a sense of free jazz in how's it played, and some Krautlike echo, but I'm really not doing it justice by comparing it to antecedents. Shiroc is the drummer and his style is wonderfully fluid, with long runs that dance all over the stereo field like a wild buffalo. I write all this in reference to the original album (tracks 1-4) and the bonus tracks that take this CD to the remainder of its 75 minutes. The second disc included here is not under review, because it is a DVD and thus outside of the scope of this blog. Also, I'm copping out on trying to tackle the insane amount of content packed into the DVD - in addition to Birgé's film La Nuit du Phoque (which, if I remember correctly, has oodles of male nudity in it), there are over six hours of audio material comprising every session that Birgé and Gorgé ever played together. So, this is a hell of a bargain and a pretty "essential" component of a record collection that looks NWW-listward for its cornerstones (though, I hate when people say any sound recording is 'essential' since you don't need it to live and breathe). But the album itself is what created the legend around this music, if you can call anything that a microscopic community of music fans cared about "legendary". I'm sure the original vinyl goes for shitloads now so thanks to Mio for making it available again - and while I don't like CDs, this is a nicer way to have it than a MutantSounds .rar file. The breaths here are gorgeous though - sometimes pure sound exploration and sometimes focused on the act of human beings interacting with each other. This is definitely from the school of "get some studio time and take in as many instruments as possible", but back when this was a novel idea and there was really something to say through the process. There are a million sound-generating devices at play but it doesn't sound spoiled. There are two other guys who play here, one of whom was later involved in Urban Sax, and they seem to thicken things without overloading anything. French outsider music, which I often call "prog" because, even if it sounds nothing like Crimson, is definitely progressive -- it has a sense of time that is uniquely its own. I don't understand completely what makes something sound French vs. Italian vs. German vs. British - I wonder how much these constructs are cultural. Would I say the same thing about this if I took a blind taste test? I think I would, at least with material from the great decade of the 1970s; with today's melting pots I don't know that I'd be up to the challenge. Here I guess I'd probably see a connection to art brut, and all that stuff, but maybe that's just my limited knowledge of 20th century art movements creeping into my sense of perception. Anyway, I can't say much else here besides: get this.

No comments:

Post a Comment