Musical expression comes in many forms and shapes, something that also applies to what we refer to as “experimental” music. That particular music receives its name usually because of its exploration of unusual shapes, colours, structures, etc, but sometimes it ends up even surrendering itself to entirely new languages and the possibilities those bring with them. It’s a taste of the latter that we find in this particular recording by the American Michael Johnsen, and Frenchman Pascal Battus.
Both men are adept improvisers, and both have been known for their decontextualized approach in the use of musical tools. By stripping down to the basic functions of their equipment, Johnsen with his homemade electronic circuits and Battus with his electromagnetic pick-ups (usually found on the body of an electric guitar, but here as naked as a microphone), they are able to leave aside unnecessary baggage, and to move forward with the curious eye of one who explores new and unknown lands.
What is glaringly absence from this live document is any trace of tired musical gestures, the crutches sometimes used in music, when one has little to say and is too afraid of saying it. Some of the sounds used, hardly carry any gestural character at all. Of course Johnsen’s unstable bleeps and quasi-digital bursts easily lend themselves to this, but Battus’ microsounds also follow suit. And then, it’s the irregularities and uncertainties in the phrasings of both players that distance the music from any notion of either system music, or the tired language sometimes found in improvised music. What this music resembles most is a self-sustained microcosm, and though this analogy too is a bit tired, the sounds themselves appear filled with energy and radiance -they could resemble maybe the sounds one would find in a dense forest, occupied perhaps by frogs such as those found on the cover. All in all, the two artists present an ever-flowing bath of activity, unencumbered by intentions, but brimming with musicality and rewarding in its every moment.
released April 28, 2011
Michael Johnsen: electronics, saw
Pascal Battus: magnetic pick-ups
sleeve design by Michael Johnsen
recorded at Bitche, Nantes (FR), 6.12.2009
the musicians would like to thank Association Cable at Nantes