l'écorce chante la forêt|cs016








































[…] Also on the more conventional instruments and methods of playing is the disc by Frederic Blondy (piano), Jean-Sebastian Mariage (electric guitar) and Dan Warburton on violin. The recordings here are also made in concert, albeit some time ago, 2001. Their playing is more stretched out and more empty, compared to the 'Metz' disc. Most of the time they seem to be making less sound, but occassionally leap forward with short outbursts of hectic and frantic playing. However in 'Sleep, Perchance To Dream' they lull the listener into sleep with sheer inaudible playing. Nice one too. Frans de Waard (Vital Weekly)

Pianist Frédéric Blondy, guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage and violinist Dan Warburton have met before in various groupings, but «L’Écorce Chante la Forêt» (literally: “The Bark Sings the Forest”) seems to be their first recording as a trio. This Paris studio session from May 2001 came out over three years later on the Portuguese label Creative Sources. The title piece (12 minutes) and “Oort: Un Jardin Doucement Ratissé par les Perturbations Stellaires” (13 minutes) offer two rapturing episodes of quiet, arcane improvised interactions. The first track is particularly rewarding: Blondy begins by playing directly on the strings, Mariage’s electric strings joining him subtly before Warburton’s ghostly sawing determines the cruising speed and the pianist switches to the ivories. [...] «L’Écorce Chante la Forêt» is only partly satisfying and better left to completists than occasional venturers. François Couture (All Music Guide)

Spurts of macerated puissance have their original vehemence transformed into a needlework of lyophilized surmise, as these three men glance one another like if their most important revelation had to be kept secret. Mariage's unyoking of guitar from ill-equipped concepts reveals a whole subterranean game of torment and reclusion, rarely interrupted by stabilizing minutiae.
Warburton's microdissection of his violin shows all the details of a visionary head carefully disposed in total disappreciation of artistic licentiousness; his sound sparkles and cracks in the very moment of its generation, then waits hopelessly for its specular image to come back.
Blondy uses piano parts like surreptitious writings, flanking his colleagues with acoustic lip-reading and noble telepathy to put a three-way breakage of silence under the umbrella of a laconic maturity. Yes, it's just another
masterpiece by Creative Sources. Massimo Ricci (Touching Extremes)

The recordings on L'écorce chante la forêt were recorded in 2001 by a trio consisting of the French pianist Frédéric Blondy and guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage once more, with Paris-based violinist Dan Warburton. In a recent interview with Rui Eduardo Paes, Warburton suggested that “lowercase stuff was very much in the air in 2001, and the three tracks on L'écorce chante la forêt reflect that”. It is something of a surprise, therefore, to find the opening eight minutes of the opening track dominated by relentless agitated flurries of particulate sound. The small gestures that characterize much of the playing in this section may have points in common with elements of what is normally thought of as lowercase music, but there is little of the spaciousness and silence with which Radu Malfatti (with whom Blondy and Warburton performed in 2001) negated the nervous incessancy of older forms of improvisation. This is not music in which every note counts in the listener’s perception; rather, the interest lies in larger scale shifts in the aggregate textures arising out of the rapid accumulation of notes. Unfortunately, there is too little differentiation in much of the playing, creating a rather homogenous impression to the overall sound. However, towards the end of the first track, as well as during sections of the more translucent second, the trio allows more air and contrast into its music, to good effect. Even better is the excellent third and final track, the longest on the disc, in which Blondy unravels a long series of dilated, Feldmanesque figures, around which Warburton vigilantly contributes various creeping and crepuscular scrapes and Mariage worries away at his guitar strings in discordant fashion. At times, the guitar falls into rather limited cycles of monotonous scrabblings, but overall this closing improvisation is gripping in its quiet gravity and transparent nuance. A pity that more work in this vein cannot be heard in the other two tracks. Wayne Spencer (Paris Transatlantic)

About a year ago, I first reviewed a Creative Sources disc for Dusted and noted that improvised music would be nothing without local scenes and the labels dedicated to documenting them. That’s still true. But when people start to take notice, the next level is the formation of links with other scenes. The Lisbon-based label – run by Ernesto Rodrigues, an excellent improviser who plays on some of the label’s releases – has made that next step. Along with labels like Erstwhile, For4Ears, Confront, Meniscus, and Potlatch, this imprint is documenting some of the finest “lowercase” improvisation around and has become a label with a strong track record and a global focus. Their release schedule has really picked up of late too. In fact, they’ve just dropped a quintet of recordings featuring a fairly broad array of European improvisers. Many readers won’t be too familiar with the majority of the players. That deserves to change.
Nearly four years old, this trio meeting from France – with Mariage again on guitar, Dan Warburton on violin, and Frédéric Blondy on piano – recalls for me a very specific French musical source, the master Olivier Messiaen. The three long improvisations on L’Écorce Chante la Forêt feature a voicelike instrumentalism and interaction that, for all its rude squeaks and tempests, reminds me of the late composer’s preoccupation with birdsongs. For much of the title track, it is difficult to discern how Blondy coaxes the shimmering translucent sounds from his (apparently prepared) piano. Warburton glides over his strings, as Mariage rudely throttles his pickups (often using a slide in multiple ways), but the pianist blasts through his instrument’s representations as Rhodri Davies does with harp. The results are subtle and transfixing, and the intense music conveys quite vivid imagery which, perhaps embellished by the evocative French titles, suggest that upon entering a seemingly tranquil space one is delighted to discover the wealth of detail and activity that teem below the surface. Appropriately, one has to listen very actively to these performances for, while they do occasionally invite you in with threeway tussles or with accessible chamber music gestures, this is more often the music of nightbirds and hidden things. The long, slowly warping tones of “Sleep, Perchance to Dream” confirm this impression most psychedelically; despite the use of extended techniques, the music coos to you, tugs at your eyelids, and invites reverie.
[…] Taken as a whole, this quintet of discs is pretty satisfying. While some clearly work better than others, they give improv freaks some insight into what’s happening in some lesser-known European scenes. They also confirm the strength and identity of this excellent label. Jason Bivins (Dusted Magazine)

Falar sobre "L'écorce chante la forêt" com o habitual discurso aplicado aos produtos da escola "reducionista" seria injusto e desadequado, na medida em que lhe colocaríamos um rótulo que delimitaria a sua "verdade". O "mundo" desta música não é, decididamente, o da nova vaga da improvisação conceptual, ainda que tudo neste disco seja improvisado e que os músicos reunidos habitem nessa área. Dan Warburton (violino), Jean-Sébastien Mariage (guitarra eléctrica) e Frédéric Blondy (piano) improvisam neste novo e excelente título da Creative Sources Recordings o que outros compõem no domínio da new music americana ou da música "clássica" contemporânea europeia. Várias práticas musicais de referência nos vêm de imediato à ideia, como Morton Feldman, Helmut Lachenmann ou Luciano Berio. Aqui, não está em questão até que ponto se economizam os sons ou se reduz o volume, mas como fazer muito com pouco. Ou seja, é de intensidades e até de densidades que se faz esta proposta. E que não se estranhe o título naturista - se a música já foi a tentativa de reprodução humana da musicalidade da natureza, isso antes de inventarmos os nossos próprios sons por meios mecânicos, eléctricos e electrónicos, aqui voltamos à dimensão natural perdida dos murmúrios da terra. Ora é o vento que agita as folhas, quase imperceptivelmente, ora uns pingos de chuva que caem, ora um pequeno animal que se esconde na erva, isto sem esses acidentes sonoros nos distraírem de uma presença que se impõe na majestade do seu silêncio, a da vida interna de todas as coisas. Conseguimos mesmo cheirar a floresta, numa subtil sinestesia que só nada tem de cinematográfico porque lida com a intimidade das nossas próprias memórias visuais e sensitivas. Rui Eduardo Paes (JL)

Paesaggi scarni, con poche forme all’orizzonte, quelli evocati da questo ottimo lavoro del trio Blondy / Mariage / Warburton; attimi di stasi che sembrano durare un secolo, mentre si percorrono stanze al tramonto, dove nulla pare accadere. Acustica che si tramuta in corpo contundente, con cui esporre paesaggi spinali di Ballardiana memoria, materia sonora a mo di terapia introspettiva. Non ci si lasci trarre in inganno dalle mie parole, questo cd offre molte più sensazioni di quel che si può credere, quando il piano viene accarezzato come per incanto si materializza lo spettro di Feldman ed allora si ha veramente voglia di camminare lungo queste stanze spoglie in penombra. Attimi vissuti sempre all’insegna di una asciuttezza espressiva assolutamente convincente, riduzionista, non v'è dubbio, ma capace di produrre strane vampe di calore lungo la schiena. Preparatissimi affrontano l’irsuta materia sprigionando con scioltezza (soprattutto nel secondo e terzo brano) una strana forma di estasi oppiacea che (non si offendano gli autori) viene quasi voglia di definire lisergica. La grazia rigorosa con cui si succedono questi tre movimenti è realmente ammirevole,le increspature elettriche che compaiono alla fine dell’ultimo brano paiono idealmente riconsegnare mutato il concetto di tempo all’ascoltatore. Il fragore del primo traffico dell’alba che si fa strada dopo il silenzio. Un nuovo inizio; un giorno dopo l’altro. Bellissimo! Marco Carcasi (Sands-Zine)

[…] Tout proche de Metz, Dan Warburton, ici au violon, Jean Sébastien Mariage et le pianiste Frédéric Blondy font craquer le bois et sous L'Écorce Chante La Forêt (CS 016 cd). Le troisième long morceau du cd est d'une lenteur hyper feldmanienne. L'ayant emprunté à la médiathèque une trop courte semaine, je ne peux raviver plus mon écoute. Le souvenir que j'en ai reste positif. […] Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg (Improjazz)

Changing the configuration of an acoustic trio with as few as one instrument alters the internal relationship so profoundly that the coloration can, to indulge in cliché, practically change from white to black. So it is with these two multi-national chamber ensembles.
[...] L’écorce Chant la Forêt (Creative Sources)—(rough) translation “singing bark of the forest”—despite the inclusion of prodigiously educated and prize-winning composer Dan Warburton—is firmly in the minimalist, non-idiomatic free music vein.
Violinist Warburton, a British-born Paris resident, is joined by two French musicians, guitarist Jean-Sébastien Mariage and pianist Frédéric Blondy, both of whom are also in the Hubbub quintet. Although Hubbub’s signature textures usually range from below inaudible to deliberately stentorian, two other members of that band work with Warburton in a combo called Return of the New Thing which, as the title indicates, takes its inspiration from maximal 1960s improvising.
Each session here, however, is memorable in its own, much different way. But full appreciation will probably be tempered by how many conventional music signposts the listener wants or needs for full enjoyment.
[...] Contrast this with L’éncorce Chant la Forêt. Firmly EuroImprov, at points it replicates nearly all the scrapes, plinks, and oscillations that can be made by stringed instruments constructed from wood. The improvising on this CD appears to build up to “Sleep, perchance to dream”, the 30-minute final track. Unfortunately, the three players give themselves a bit too much license over that much aural real estate. With the violin vibrating squeaks that at points take on reed-like tints, the guitar creating frailing steel-string scrapes and the piano concentrating on abstracted patterning, bonding seems absent. Meandering with an undulating, almost electronic ostinato, the performance reaches a foreshortened climax slightly after the midway point, then subsides again.
Earlier, on the slightly more than 12-minute title track, Mariage’s string finger taps join with soundboard stroking from Blondy and fiddle runs from Warburton to surge from sine wave replication to classically oriented jettes. Descending piano chords, off-center keyboard plinks plus crackles and pops from amp distortion give this piece a paranormal identity, particularly when the primary theme alludes to the sounds a balloon makes as it’s scratched and stretched.
Initially livelier than the others, “oort: un jardin doucement ratisssé par les perubations stellaires”—a quiet garden disrupted by stellar disorders—features patterning string cadences that unite in broken octaves. When the underlying buzzing distortions advance to knob-turning shrills, the pitter-patter of stopped keyboard action unites with violin glissandi to increase the volume. Quickly enough though, reverberating low-frequency dynamics from all the strings attain a languorous pace, insinuating that the collective improvisation could end in a nanosecond or continue for infinity.
[...] While the trio’s innate formalism probably prevents it from going the all-improv route favored by L’éncorce Chant la Forêt , it could challenge itself more by recording extended compositions. Alternately, Blondy, Mariage, and Warburton could brighten their collective color field by widening and toughening their recorded performances. Ken Waxman (One Final Note)

Paru après Metz, ce disque résulte d'un enregistrement de Mai 2001. C'est le deuxième volet de l'intervention de musiciens français dans ce label centré sur l'Alemagne, l'Espagne et Portugal. Ici, dans un espace musical souvent saturé, le grinçant Dan Warburton produit le sentiment pénible d'une catastrophe imminente. Mais c'est au tour du piano de Frédéric Blondy que se construit la musique. Un piano très lumineux dans la seconde plage, égrenant des notes mêlées de chocs et de tout ce que Blondy sait faire avec son piano en développant de rares qualités de toucher (pas seulement sur le clavier). Ainsi qu'il explique dans les notes de pochette de Traque (Return of the New Thing, Ayler Records 010, enregistré en 2000 et 2002, donc dans la même période que celui-ci), Warburton semble souvent jouer contre ses partenaires, "playing against can also be great fun", écrit-il. Comme je n'ai pas envie de l'entendre jouer contre Frédéric Blondy, ce disque provoque en moi le désir de défendre un pianiste qui n'en a aucun besoin.Le disque, dans son aspect rebutant, pourrait se réduire à un match Blondy / Warburton discrètement arbitre par Mariage: me voila piégé par l'enregistrement, renvoyé à la bêtise de croire à l'affrontement que j'imagine entendre et sommé par moi-même de prendre parti! Ces trois-là, et peut-être tout particulièrement Warburton, sont des maîtres à ce jeu. Noël Tachet (Improjazz)

Frederic Blondy (piano), Jean-Sebastian Mariage (guitarra eléctrica) e Dan Warburton (violino) tocaram e gravaram em Paris "L’Écorce Chante la Forêt" (2001), disco que a Creative Sources Recordings viria a publicar em 2004. Três peças ("l’écorce chante la forêt"; "oort: un jardin doucement ratissé par les pertubations stellaires"; e "sleep, perchance to dream"), desvendam-se em movimentos lowercase entrecortados por breves e mais arrebatados episódios musicais, que se vão esfumando até entrar na pièce de resistence com que encerra esta quase hora de duração. Mais que os temas anteriores, "sleep, perchance to dream" caracteriza-se pelos longos intervalos entre notas ou sons, sequências de texturas de toque suave e acetinado. Estalidos de madeira e metal brotam da percussão das teclas do piano e do afagar das cordas do violino ou da guitarra eléctrica, acções descontínuas com ênfase no som mais que na tonalidade, explorando um mundo subterrâneo de sensualidades microscopicamente perceptíveis. As dinâmicas são em geral extremamente baixas, contudo perceptíveis e relacionáveis entre si, mais pelo gesto que pelo resultado. Música não-narrativa que contudo conta histórias que se adensam à nossa volta, apertando o cerco milimétrico, como cobra que desliza suavemente pela vegetação à procura da presa que, encantada, não consegue mexer-se. A tensão aumenta perto do fim em razão inversa ao volume produzido. O que acentua os traços feldmanianos desta música, cuja audição deve acompanhar o baixo volume da execução para que não se percam os murmúrios de vozes sonhadas. Eduardo Chagas (Jazz e Arredores)

Now, here is something amusing, or tragic, depending on how you look at it. I was recently sent a parcel of CDs by Ernesto Rodrigues at the Creative Sources label. It contained twenty or so CDs, about a dozen new releases plus some older items, I think chosen by Ernesto to try and find items that matched my taste. Anyway, I will try and work my way through most of these before Christmas, and plan to write a long post containing a number of smaller capsule reviews (similar to Brian does) simply because these are just too many CS releases out there for me to focus a post on each individually. As I have been to listen to this new batch though (and also some I still hadn’t played from the last bundle that arrived!) a few items have jumped out as warranting a longer review, so those I will write up as normal. Anyway, the last few days I have been listening to one such release, a disc named L’écorce change la foret by the trio of Frédéric Blondy, (piano) Jean-Sébastian Mariage (electric guitar) and Dan Warburton (violin) and it has caught my attention enough to play it four or five times through and give a full post over to it. So tonight I sketched out some thoughts on the disc, on what I wished to say about it, as I often do while the disc played behind me. At this point, I went to find a photo of the release to accompany my writing, and when I visited the CS website, I found, much to my surprise that this release had actually been one of the earliest releases on the label, issued back in 2001, with a catalogue number of CS016, which I hadn’t noticed before. Given then that this release was recorded ten years ago, and that the latest CS CD carries the catalogue no CS200, I though about scrapping the review and finding something else to write about tonight. However, I have spent a few days enjoying this CD, so I’m damned if the release date should make a big difference, and given that Creative Sources is currently celebrating its tenth year of operation, and that this disc comes from its first year, it is maybe a nice tribute to Ernesto’s stirling work at CS that I write about it tonight.

So the first thing to note (and this could I guess be seen as both a good and bad thing) is that I had no problem believing that this was a contemporary CD. I had no suspicions at all of it sounding dated. It certainly sounds like improvised music, and thoroughly enjoyable improv at that, but nothing here sounds particularly new, and equally nothing sounds old. Those that suggest that improvisation has little new to offer in 2011 maybe indeed point to this as fuel for their particular fire, but I think it is more valuable to consider that this CD captures much of what can make improved music timeless when done properly. The trio here sound perfectly at home with their instrumentation, and they combine together seamlessly to form music that gathers in the attentive listener and involves them in the music as it unfurls before them. The music here was recorded ten years ago, but as we listen for the first time, we might as well had been listening back then. Improvised music, played well and with the musicians working well with one another feels fresh when heard for the first time. As I listen to it I hear it the same as the musicians did when they made it.

Thinking more closely though, with the benefit of hindsight now that I know the recording date, there is a certain turn-of-the-millenium feel to the music here. While the first couple of the three tracks here sound like good traditional tussles between three different variations of stringed instruments, scraping and grinding and moaning as much as they ring, chime and glow, the the third piece, the almost half an hour long Sleep, perchance to dream is beautifully understated. It isn’t so quiet that it might fall under any of the reductionist headings floating about at the time, but certainly there is a slowness, and spaciousness to the music here that would have won me over completely had I heard this disc ten years ago (and how come I didn’t?!). The final piece sees Blondy playing some stray, beautifully sustained single notes that are allowed to decay gradually into a bed of scratchy, almost invisible violin and some humming, purring guitar of a similar dynamic. It is gloriously lovely, and lasting as long as it does the almost fiercely tetchy opening sections of the album, and the rasping sounds of Warburton trying to saw his violin in half with the bow that open everything seem a long way away. Throughout the disc, from the more busy chapters to the closing Feldmanesque softness, the three instruments have a percussive feel to them, with Mariage’s guitar rarely strummed or plucked in a conventional manner, rather clicked and popped and I think eBowed, just as the inside of the piano is played as much as the keys, and the violin bow is possibly never drawn across the strings in the traditional way. You sense though that this isn’t a CD about extended technique, rather just three musicians chancing upon ways of playing that work together in the moment.

So my original review of this album, before I noticed its release date wouldn’t have described this music as anything new, but would have hailed the quality of the playing and the ability of the trio to come together and create such a beautiful sound world in the moment. As it is, I see no reason to change any of that, and while I should add that I value attempts at innovation and new forms of music as much as anyone, there will always be room for this kind of creativity in my heart whilst labels like Creative Sources continue to release it. Happy birthday Ernesto! Richard Pinnell (The Watchful Ear)