pierre gerard : guitar, electronics, object
abstract voice with _ into environment ..
performed & recorded
listen to on speakers ..
(number 1243 _ week 30)
pierre gerard - minus modum (cd, private)
Ever since Francisco Lopez released 'Warsawa Restaurant' in the mid-90s, a work that at minus 40 DBS hoovered at no sound at all, people are still attracted at this very quiet sound. I am not among those who love that silent notion. I just fail to see the point. Of course, I am telling you this, because here we have an example of someone who took a leaf out of the Lopez/Bernard Günter (whatever happened to him?) book (of blank pages, no doubt) and has five tracks made with, according to the cover, "guitar, electronics, object, abstract voice with _ into environment". At first, I thought the sound off, and then I realized the quietness and loaded all five pieces on to my computer made them 0db and listened. Some parts remain very quiet because only a selected number of sounds are 'loud'. And within the already silent pieces, there are more than once bits that are still silent. You guessed it, this is not easy listening music. Maybe I lack the concentration or the Zen spirit for this kind of music, just as I did with the Trente Oiseaux catalogue twenty years ago; or maybe I lack the right playback equipment (and no, I don't use computer speakers, as once a disgruntled musician commented on what he perceived as a bad review); just as I once heard Günter's music in his studio, which I enjoyed then much more, I should visit Gerard in his workplace and hear it over there. So, I think he uses a bit of sine wave-like drones, a few guitar sounds (maybe altogether 5 minutes out of the forty-nine minutes this release lasts), a bit of 'vocal' here and there and throughout a similar drone (?) sort of thing in all five pieces. I am sure I miss the point here.
THE SOUND PROJECTOR
Once again Gerard uses his guitar, low-key electronics, his own voice, and inanimate objects in the creation of a five-part work, this time using Greek letters to identify the separate parts of the structure. He also uses a lot of silence, as usual, and one has to strain quite hard to make out any perceptible markings on this blank stretch of time. Actually what may appear to be pure silence actually contains a very subtle and washed-out drone of some sort, produced by means we know not – it’s like a whistling gas-jet in the house, assuming you live in a tiny doll’s house and you yourself are a miniaturised human being. I say this because quite often Gerard’s work does feel like an “escape” or retreat from the vicissitudes of life, a safety zone where perhaps we can shrink down to
the size of an atom and dwell in a blanked-out world of whiteness. It might even be a comforting thing to do at a troubled time.
When you put it like that, the occasional interruptions of a plucked guitar string resonating for mere seconds, a broken phrase from a murmuring voice, or a bumped close-miked object can seem like unwelcome intrusions into our private space. But maybe they also serve as audio markers, beacons on the cliff line to guide the ships into the harbour. If we lacked these fragments of “reality” (whatever the heck that means in the context of such a pared-down abstract composition), we might not be able to put things in perspective. But then if one thinks about perspective, that leads to a line of enquiry involving ideas of “depth” in the recording, the creation of an imaginary audio space,
and this is where Gerard’s work is singularly lacking; like other previous records, Minus Modum is curiously flat and constrictive, no sense of dimension in the compositional arrangement, no effective use made of the long durations, and no interest in moving around much inside the miniature world he proposes.
I can put up with it if modernism insists on removing any type of content from the work, but I still need something to engage with; Gerard has taken things so far that he even denies form and duration as meaningful compositional elements, leaving us pretty much with a desolate, arid emptiness. From 30th July 2020.