Jean-Luc Guionnet / Eric La Casa / Philip Samartzis – Soleil D’Artifice


The most remarkable attribute of Soleil D’Artifice, four years and a half after its release as the opening act of Eric La Casa’s Swarming imprint, is that it was recorded in a day: a large-scale improvisation, one would say, on the permutation of theoretically unrelated frequencies into ingenious lateral thinking. A gestural exactitude whose empathy with stillness mistakenly suggests an extensive preparatory work of assemblage and seaming, such is the level of precision in the mix and evocativeness inside the assorted sonic layers. The latter quality — in addition to Guionnet’s biting alto saxophone (amplified) and La Casa and Samartzis’ sharp-minded use of laptop and electronics — is enhanced by field recordings spanning from faraway industrial clangor to powerfully blowing winds. Occasionally, segments may be “spiced” by human voices speaking in different idioms; at one point, a sudden salvo of gunshots follows a solitary reed squeak to introduce an erratic argument between the involved parties.

Since his teens, this writer has wondered why certain settings — inhabited by unvarying “supportive” noises or echoes — manage to transport a silent listener straight into a parallel dimension with immunity from the pain of existence, a feeling usually announced by a discernible clutch in the pit of the stomach; there are a number of spots here that caught my attention accordingly. A symbolic segment in that sense might be the couple of minutes that starts around 2:50 of the second track: I distinctly catch the undertone of a wailing spirit in the plain concurrence of a single, rather fragile sax pitch and a wobbly blend of electronic murmurs. But this CD is not unwisely stuck on that category of present-day contemplation. The trio’s main target is understanding the technicalities of interrelations that connect particular types of acoustic secretion, reacting to the respective initiatives with immediate resolution. Still, keeping silence as the starting place of everything, their respect for it is unquestionably deeper than those who contaminate the same spring for inexcusably empty fashionable statements.