Eidolon is the minimally edited fruit of a pair of studio summits that occurred in 2018 and 2019, both of them preceding live performances in Vancouver. Joda Clément (MS-20, harmonium, glockenspiel, field recordings, feedback), Tim Olive (magnetic pickups, preamplifier, octave generators) and Mathieu Ruhlmann (ukelin, cymbal, tapes, objects) have carved their own niches in ambits that blend improvisation, exploitation of the surrounding environments and art based on found materials. All three have individually published commendable works in the past, thus the reviewer’s curiosity of hearing them in joint action was obvious.
The wire connecting vibrations of impressive magnitude and ear-piercing frequencies is kept in tension by a permanent restlessness, occasionally underscored by human manifestations sensed in the distance. Every feature that might refer the listener to a sort of aural normality is mercilessly dismembered in an abstractionism halfway through industrial and superterrestrial. Trance-like episodes are brief, promptly disrupted by now ectoplasmic, now concrete emanations. Drifting car engines mix with ghosts of radio stations burning in an oxidized frying pan. Voices are guessed, but a body or face is not envisioned. Sonically impure currents suggest clouds of chemical (make that “nuclear”) particles. At times everything falls silent for a short while, revealing only background electrical whirring. And yet, by some miracle, the four tracks — never winking at us, more often tainted with unsympathetic interference and coarse noise — couple with our life stream in total unselfconsciousness.
The desire to learn about the processes inexorably gives way to the unconditional acceptance of the result. Well aware of the serious commitment of the experimenters, we perceive these improvisations as a kind of soul tranquilizer. It’s always better to scrutinize what’s apparently hostile to discover unexpected therapeutic qualities, rather than looking for a harmony that does not exist. Tim Olive, alone or together with cohorts, has been trying for many years to explain how little is needed to put the finger on hypothetically unachievable truths. In reality, they are just around the corner. And they crackle, squeal, buzz and hum as any trustworthy replica of the universe’s concealed soundtrack.