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Musique Reviews

"Good Night", Pleq, remixes by Pjusq, Offthesky and Philippe Lamy. Label Basses Fréquences cdr.

Touching extremes :

About 20 minutes of mostly well-made minimalist ambient, four re-workings of an idea by Polish Bartosz Dziadosz whose foremost version has not been heard here; thus we’re left to judge what other people prepared. The opening track is perhaps my darling in its economical unfussiness, Glitch’s respect of a repetitive pattern infused by nocturnal melancholy and tinged with a recurrent piano note informing the set’s most purposeful episode. Pjusk’s introduction of a melodic factor – explicated through a (sampled?) fuzzy guitar – is not helpful in maintaining the initial atmosphere’s magic, background fluorescence notwithstanding. Offthesky opens things up towards galactic abstraction at the beginning, before restating the identification with the original in the second half of his rendition, with the piano fragment in evidence and electronic reverberations a little more stretched than elsewhere (though scarred by distant distortions at the end). Philippe Lamy closes the whole with a measure of harmonic dissonance, in turn generating suspended clusters under which the essential structure is almost disintegrated at times, to reappear remodelled and expanded moments later. A distinct insecurity chosen as conclusive option, a “Good Night” of bad presages erasing the sweet dreams. This and the first are the piece’s best translations. (touching extremes :–-good-night/ )



Tobias Fischer (Tokafi) :

In artistic terms, remix-collections are tricky affairs. Even if the underlying intentions are pure, the respective styles of the artists match and their take on the original turns out to be respectful, inspired or, ideally, both, they almost by default end up being mere selections of loose tracks rather than coherent albums. Various producers have tried avoiding the issue by either commissioning the remix-disc in sync with the regular album, thereby interlocking the two and forging an inseparable unit, or by having an entire full-length remixed rather than merely a few random pieces. And yet, neither of these strategies actually resolved the inherent problem of attaining a truly organic quality. In the late 1990's,  Austrian downtempo duo Tosca finally came up with a seemingly paradoxical, yet strangely convincing proposition. On the face of it, Fuck Dub and Chocolate Elvis Dub were standard remix albums collecting contributions by a wide variety of producers. The decisive knack consisted in the fact that both took on no more than one song, which they would re-interpret from a plethora of angles. In doing so, these works transcended their functional aspect and grew into  showcases for the trade of remixing itself, offering a glimpse into the procedures applied to transform a piece of art into something new and documenting the pathway of inspiration, as it passes from one creative mind to another.At the same time, as a result of their monothematical program, both Fuck Dub and Chocolate Elvis Dub bordered the obsessive – which may have contributed to Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber never again returning to the idea for the ensuing decade of their career. On Good Night, meanwhile,  Polish Sound Artist Bartosz Dziadosz has not just picked up a concept strikingly similar to theirs, but taken the notion to an entirely new level. Outwardly, this EP featuring a cut from Dziadosz's upcoming full-length Ballet Mechanic as well as three re-imaginings from befriended and respected colleagues, is a nice, yet unspectacular CD single. The artists included here have obviously been chosen with an ear both for their mutual compatibility on the one hand as well as their finely nuanced personalities on the other, ranging from offthesky's ecomorphic soundscapes and the deep, yearning ambient of Pjusk to the refined blend of ultraprecise sonic explorations and emotive storytelling by Philippe Lamy. Their versions never merely loot Dziadosz's material for attractive samples, but actually acknowledge their presence by openly building their own contribution around his main themes. Accordingly, the stripped-down piano sequence serving as the Leitmotif  rears its head on all four pieces included here. And even when, as on Lamy's edit, it has been edited to the back of the mix, it nonetheless turns into the focal point – awarding the release an air of inner coherency. And yet, appreciating the hidden depths of the release requires repeat listens.Central to the unfolding of the EP is, of course, the original Pleq arrangement of „Good Night“. One of the most fragile, tender and minimal pieces imaginable,  the long opening section of the piece, taking up more than half the duration of the entire track, hinges on nothing but a deep-blue bass drone on the tonic of B, a swelling, ethereal upper-register pad, some scraping and crackling micronoise-loops as well a piano playing the note c# with utmost delicacy. Despite their essentially static nature, these four elements are interlocking in an almost rhythmical way, with each theme being assigned a clearly delineated role in the overall architecture of the composition. At the same time, the perfect harmony of this relationship marks the music as ambient in the true meaning of the word, as promising immersion, inviting meditation and emphasising floating qualities over moments of tension and suspense.A change occurs almost exactly at the five-minute mark: A single, brilliant and crystalline piano note is added to the equation. Seemingly trivial at first, the event shifts the entire balance of the track. The formerly stoic c#, repeated like the pulse in a Steve Reich piece, is suddenly awarded a sensitive and lyrical character and a pronounced sense of direction. At the same time, the mood segues from a womb-like state of comfort and calm to hope and quiet anticipation, as though something quite inexplicable, wonderful and joyful were just about to happen. And so it goes, the music simply continuing without the need for any further development or additional elements, peacefully drifting towards the end before slowly fizzling out. As Wynton Marsalis once pointed out, few things are as hard in music as simultaneously attaining fragility and intensity and nothing as hard as sustaining that intensity over an extended period of time – and „Good Night“ manages to achieve both.Since Dziadosz already attained the golden cut in terms of balance and dynamics, the other artists were implicitly forced to either underbid the achievement in terms of sparsity or take it into an entirely new realm. All three have opted for the latter: Norwegian duo Pjusk split the molecular structure of the music into a more clearly discernible fore- and background, with some of the formerly all but unnoticeable clicks and cuts opening up a deep, cavernous resonance and the thematic leads now acting as a harmonic backdrop to an anthemic guitar-theme. Jason Corder (offthesky), meanwhile, opens his eight-minute endeavour with a mystical and cleansing electronic thunderstorm, perhaps as a silent tribute to the life-changing experience of attending a Plastikman-gig in the middle of the "woods somewhere in the west". The remainder of the track, however, pits a softly revolving piano loop against cushioned bass vibrations, evoking, albeit with alternative means, the same sense of warmth and inner concentration of the original. Lamy's approach is certainly the most radical of the trio, with the rhythmical loops being purified into subtle data transmissions, as though the music were being picked up by the central intelligence unit aboard the USS Sulako. And yet, he, too, integrates the original into his piece, traces of the melody appearing at strategic moments and acting as conceptual glue between a sphere of abstractions and highly emotional traditions.Intriguingly, when listened to back to back, these pieces neither feel like a collection of loose tracks nor merely, as the press release claims, „a real progression“ in terms of ambiance. By making use of a shared pool of motives and then setting out to develop them, the work rather has the air of a large-structure classical composition, in which themes are passed from one instrumental section to another and from one timbral group to the next. Good Night is not just an appetizer to the upcoming Pleq full-length, it is a self-contained journey in its own right. This, of course, is not something that can be planned in advance. Instead, it is one of those happy coincidences that occasionally turn life as a musician into a pleasure.The perfectly balanced minimalism on display here is an immediate result of Dziadosz doing little more but sustain a fragile sense of wonder: He may not be playing a lot of notes, but they are certainly the right ones.


Frank De Ward (Vital Weekly) : 

The CD single has the same version of 'Good Night' as on the album, as well as three 'remixes' of it. In the Pjusk remix ebowed guitars are added, while Jason Corder's Offthesky starts a bit more noise based, and adds more static field recordings to the proceedings as well as bringing up the piano in the mix. Philippe Lamy's mix is the most abstract one, applying all sorts of filters to the music. He moves into a different field with his music, and brings it into another place, something that Pjusk and Offthesky don't seem to do. Nice enough, but no number one position I guess.A trio of Azusa (voice, drawings), Fabrice (effects, sampler, bass) and Vincent (barytone, visual, musical and computer engineering) and they are called MesseBasse. They already had two albums on the A-haeon label (which I don't know), and those were more 'experimental noise' but now they have grown into a more 'instrumental maturity'. One track of thirty something minutes. The music of MesseBasse is generated, I think, through improvisation, along spacious themes. They go for 'atmospheric' music, but its loosely organized. Sounds meander about, into the open, far away, spacious, desert-like. A voice comes in and moves away again, endless sustain on the guitar, effects locked into eachother. If anything I was reminded of the free psychedelic sound of Voice Of Eye. Surely high and mighty atmospheric music, but not composed along strict lines, but free as a bird. Excellent stuff, if, just like Pleq, not entirely new either. So who cares about originality anyway? (FdW)Address:  HYPERLINK ""


Norman Records :

We've got here is.. Failure to communicate. No sorry, what we've got here is four remixes of Pleq's 'Good Night' track from his forthcoming album on the same label. I think there's four remixes anyway, the first track might be the original as it's credited as Pleq's version but it's got 'glitch' written after it so maybe he's gone done a wee remix of himself? In any case it's a piannery droney ambient effort a bit like what was on that thing I reviewed earlier on but I can't hear much glitch on it so fuck knows. Pjusk's re-tinkering does have a glitchiness to it, playing with the temporal aspect as the track seems to be constantly reversing, replaying and folding in on itself. Offthesky darken the palette somewhat with a slightly pastoral static that continually threatens to come to the fore but never quite does. Philippe Lamy takes things the farthest from the original with his version which takes in stops at all kinds of places in its duration, some touched on in the earlier tracks and some all his own. And then it's finished! 


Soundscaping :

The Glitch remix that opens the ball is a slow and meditative version of Good Night. It sways lightly to and fro, as a lullabye. The subtle tendernes of the original melody is carried all the way through, thus truly living up to the name of the track.

The second remix is the one by norwegian duo  HYPERLINK ""Pjusk . This take has a bigger ficus on the resonnance of the original track, and they also add the presence of a string sound – and in these electronic day of age it is not easy to hear if it is a guitar or a manipulated sound. The  HYPERLINK ""Pjusk remix is also more present, pushed to the front, for the listener to embrace. The hypnotic lullabye has been replaced by a late night story.

The third remix is by  HYPERLINK ""offthesky . This remix has an effect induced introduction, setting it sraight away on a different path than the previous two mixes. But after the first rattling minute, it slows down to a beautiful track you would want to fall asleep to. The slow paced piano sound is though haunted throught with the sharp counterpoints applied at the start, thus reminding us that the gentleness could at any time give way for something unpleasant, keeping us alert.

The last mix is by  HYPERLINK ""Philippe Lamy . The track up to this point has drawn the listener up, to the front and kept him on his toes. The final mix is more adventurous than the previous ones. The feel of the track is more varied, more aspects of the sounds explored. I liked the first three tracks more precisely because they dwelled on certain parts of the song, and nourished them. And the beauty of the track has also been lost.

The Good Night remix has three tracks that I would happily recommend for you to listen to. They are very pleasant melodies in these days when the night is longer. I do not have any favourite amongst the first three, and I quite like how the original track is deconstructed in waves. Looking forward to hearing the full-lenghth record.

Frank De Ward (Vital Weekly) : 

The CD single has the same version of 'Good Night' as on the album, as well as three 'remixes' of it. In the Pjusk remix ebowed guitars are added, while Jason Corder's Offthesky starts a bit more noise based, and adds more static field recordings to the proceedings as well as bringing up the piano in the mix. Philippe Lamy's mix is the most abstract one, applying all sorts of filters to the music. He moves into a different field with his music, and brings it into another place, something that Pjusk and Offthesky don't seem to do. Nice enough, but no number one position I guess.




"Drop Diary" Mystery Sea CD.

Frank De Ward (Vital Weekly) : 

The least dark is the release by Philippe Lamy, who also had releases on Mystery Sea, as well as Dronarivm, and bases his ambient music on the use of processed field recordings, just like Mathes does. But in Lamy's work there is room for a bit of air, a fine amount of higher pitched sounds, and is more glitch like perhaps. Maybe also a bit more abstract, with music being further removed from the original source material, which is no longer to be recognized. Maybe it's also the music that is less linear and more chopped into various bits, like an acousmatic composition. These two pieces are the most varied bits of music of these three new Taalem releases. Whereas the others are maybe more text book like ambient pieces, here we are dealing with some more in depth composition. That is not say that one is better than the other, as I quite enjoyed all three for what they are.






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