d'incise: Sécheresse Plantée En Plein Ciel

Like many a Gruenrekorder release, d'incise's Sécheresse Plantée En Plein Ciel is heavily field recordings-based, in this case recordings collected in the Czech Republic and Poland during the summer of 2007. However, to a far greater degree than the standard Gruenrekorder release (or any release for that matter), d'incise's recording occupies a middle ground between field recordings and electronica (of the electroacoustic kind). More precisely, rather than ornamenting electronic tracks with field recordings detail as may producers do—using them as added colour, in other words—, the Geneva, Switzerland-based producer (also a member of Audioactivity, a music-and-visual collective founded in 2000 in Geneva) manipulates the field recordings elements so that they become source material for building the rhythm and melodic structures within the electronic tracks (the slow pulse in “Omniprésence,” for instance, sounds as if it was created from a sample of keys). Adopting such a production methodology makes for arresting results, in part because it's a strategy that's not commonly undertaken. That it isn't is a bit of a shame; it's rare to hear originating natural materials used in such ‘musical' manner (especially ear-catching is the way micro-edits of children's voices are used as rhythm material during “Insouciance apparente”) and Sécheresse Plantée En Plein Ciel turns out to be more engaging than the norm.

Subtle melodies, bass lines, and electronic rhythms thread themselves through dense and often slow-moving thickets of samples (city traffic, public voice announcements, trains, people, animals, industrial clatter) in a project that d'incise likens to a blurry travel diary. There's no shortage of textural content, with clicks, static, and other noise details surfacing alongside the 'melodic' material. At times, the d'incise sound strays into others' orbits. One could imagine “Sécheresse en périphérie” appearing on Autechre's EP7, for example, given how similar d'incise's beatwork and ponderous tonal weave is to tracks on that recording. If d'incise's material is relatively distinguished for being original in approach, the release itself suffers from an all-too-common malady: excessive length. Shaving a minute or two off of some of the longer tracks (those in the seven- to eight-minute range) wouldn't have hurt the material significantly but would have allowed the project to establish itself more succinctly.

February 2010