À la face du ciel


Shh Puma 022CD

João Camões : viola
Jean-Marc Foussat : AKS & voice

Suite pour la troisième oreille
Mécanique verte




giovedì 16 giugno 2016

Viola & Electronics: The Voice of a Hybrid Being

Although traditionally used to fill in harmonies or double melody lines, the viola has become increasingly prominent as a solo instrument in modern and experimental settings. Part of its appeal is the relative salience of its lower partials: Pitched a fifth below the violin, the viola offers a darker overtone structure that has been fruitfully exploited by Gérard Grisey and other composers. This same sound profile makes it a stimulating partner for electronic intervention and manipulation, as it is on À la face du ciel, a new recording by violist João Camões and electronic artist Jean-Marc Foussat.

Camões, originally from Portugal and a participant in that country’s effervescent improvised music scene, spent some years in Paris, where he met Foussat. The latter, a native of Oran, Algeria, began playing guitar in progressive rock bands but moved toward experimentation with tapes and musique concrète as well as with synthesizers. The two were part of a trio with accordionist Claude Parle, but here are presented alone together on two long improvised performances. Both tracks reflect a dynamic inspired more by the moment-to-moment impulses of free jazz than by the pre-given structures of composition proper. The sound of the music, however, owes much to the textures and phrasing of contemporary electroacoustic composition.

Both performances are grounded in Camões’s freely lyrical playing as interpreted and reworked by Foussat’s direct, real-time processing. Both musicians take advantage of the viola’s unique soundworld, whether through Camões’s application of conventional and extended techniques or Foussat’s fragmentation and mosaicising reassembly of Camões’s line. The ordinarily dolce, rounded sound of the instrument is scuffed up, its grain roughened and translated into the often harsh language of post-industrial strain: In the end, it speaks with the voice of a truly hybrid being.

Daniel Barbiero

João Camões & Jean-Marc Foussat - À La Face Du Ciel ‎(Shhpuma, 2016) ****
Marialuisa Capurso & Jean-Marc Foussat – En Respirant (Fou, 2016) ***1/2

By Dan Sorrells

Playing in a duo with electronics shaman Jean-Marc Foussat must be like discovering what instrument your partner plays the moment the curtain rises—and perhaps more disturbingly, discovering minute to minute that it’s a number of instruments you’ve ever encountered before. Two recent duo recordings are as much about how traditional instruments respond to the frenetic, protean realm of electronics and synthesizers as about the power Foussat wields with such devices. À La Face Du Ciel pairs Foussat with Portuguese violist João Camões, while En Respirant is a duet with Italian singer and fellow electronicist Marialuisa Capurso.

It’s tempting to view Foussat as the dominant force on À La Face Du Ciel, with Camões playing defense. This may be misleading however, if only because discerning when Foussat is being pro- or reactive is far from straightforward, and the unflappable Camões sounds as self-possessed in responding as he does when he takes the lead. Earlier this year, I reviewed Bien Mental, the trio of Foussat, Camões, and Claude Parle. There, Parle’s sweeping accordion drones were the cohesive, binding element. Here, that role falls to Camões, as it is often difficult to follow everything Foussat is doing in detail. There’s an arc to each of the two pieces that’s drawn by the familiar timbre of Camões’ viola, an earthy, grounding force in a music that is otherwise extraterrestrial, interstellar.

“Suite Pour La Trosième Oreille” gets off to an abrasive start, and it’s unclear whether Camões is amplifying his viola, Foussat is manipulating it, or a mixture of the two. What’s immediately apparent is how near-sounding the recording is. Listening through headphones lends the impression of a concert from within—less that you’re in an aural space than your skull is the space. (“Do you hear that sound?” Daniel Higgs once asked. “Your resonating skull sound—the sweetly humming skull tone.”) It’s a fitting illusion for music that’s linear but constantly shifting, like the endless turns and warps of thought itself.

As always, I’m amazed at the sheer variety of effects Foussat produces. “Suite Pour La Trosième Oreille” eventually shifts into the rasp and buzz of a robotic cicada swarm. “Mécanique Verte” is oceanic, with Camões’ plinking pizzicato notes splashing in Foussat’s watery sampling. But what Foussat tosses into the mix never sounds like some jumbled grab-bag; it truly seems he has an encyclopedic knowledge of every strange timbre available to him, and chooses exactly the sound he intends for each moment. Camões often counters with lyrical, punctuated remarks, poking holes in Foussat’s enveloping sound. Still, in one rather disconcerting moment towards the end of the record, it sounds like Camões simply evaporates into computer bleeps and bloops, finally succumbing to the digital onslaught.

En Respirant is more programmatic, briskly changing ideas and approaches. The music here is about subverting—even destroying—some of our most strongly-held aural associations by playing with the human voice, which by the very wiring of our brains we can never fail to address. Both Foussat and Capurso use their voices as fuel for their electronics, distorting them beyond all recognition but periodically revealing flashes of the human source. Paradoxically, this allows some of the most conventional moments to be the most powerful – towards the end of “Osmosis,” after a thorough deconstruction of anything resembling humanity, the sound drops away to Foussat’s electronic shimmer, and Capurso enters with a simple, hymnal melody, vocal loops slowly breaking away and diverging in a haunting canon.

“Purple Future” playfully contrasts Capurso’s voicings with those of seagulls, something that sounds ridiculous, but feels logical in the psychedelic swirl the two have conjured. The track moves from trippy to soothing to rather menacing while preserving many of the same elements. By adding and subtracting sounds, the context of others is rebuilt on the fly: nighttime insects change in a moment from summertime soundtrack to rapidly encroaching swarm.

Both À La Face Du Ciel and En Respirant document fascinating strategies for dealing with the “problem” of Foussat: Camões, by using virtuosity and ingenuity to confront him on the viola’s terms; Capurso, by blending into the electronic wash and addressing his challenges from the inside out.


João Camões/Jean-Marc Foussat: À La Face du Ciel (2014 [2016], Shhpuma): [r]: B+(***)

Tom Hull

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"À la face du ciel" (Jean-Marc Foussat - João Camões; SHH022)

27 février 2017

"À la face du ciel" (Jean-Marc Foussat - João Camões; SHH022)


Parmi la riche production des musiques improviséees, l'album "Bien Mental" (lire chronique) nous avait accompagné dans des espaces imaginaires inexplorés. Il réunissait Claude Parle (acc), Jean-Marc Foussat (synth) et João Camões (vla).
Sur cette belle impression, j'avais proposé l'écoute d'un trio emmené par João Camões "EarnNear"

L'album "A la face du ciel" nous propose de nouvelles voies avec le duo Foussat - Camões. Occasion d'entendre à nouveau ce jeune et impressionnant altiste, de découvrir les dernières pépites du "vétérant", Jean-Marc Foussat, et se laisser surprendre par leur interaction.
Deux pistes pour 45 minutes de musique.
"Suite pour la 3eme oreille" débute par des coups d'archet puissants, aux sonorités complexes, probablement traités en direct par son complice, et par des agrégats tout aussi complexes déployant leur masse d'une manière inexorable. Des élans romantiques émergent des violences de l'archet plus ou moins submergés par des couleurs interstellaires. Chacun de ces deux méta-univers, l'alto et le synthétiseur, semble poussr l'autre à puiser au plus profond de son inventivité musicale. Ils se retrouvent pour nous faire perdre nos quelques repères et pour nous offrir un rêve éveillé, puissant dès les premières notes, quasi cinématographique. Une sorte d'Aliens qui renverrait le scénario aux oubliettes pour se concentrer sur l'errance dans des espaces déconcertants où nous serions, nous, des étrangers, des intrus, des exclus. L'humanité tente de ressurgir dans des semblants de lamentations, perverties par les granulations numériques, ses ronflements, leur déploiement. L'archet, comme devenu fou, se heurte à tant de parois invisibles qu'il ne trouve d'issue que dans l'épuisement.
Fin de cette suite pour la troisième oreille. Impressionnante.

Le second titre de l'album "Mécanique verte" nous déroute tout autant, avec avec ses grandes vibrations métalliques initiales, plongées dans des masses sombres et indistinctes. Puis de nouvelles sources , des sortes de vagues, des ruissellements, des cordes pincées, des frottements mêlés de vibrations, un chant lointain, comme plaintif. Des moments ténus, à l'équilibre fragile. Des coups de boutoir sombres. Des émergences subtiles suivies d'ostinatos, véritables déchirures d'un magma sonore complexe. Une immersion dans les profondeurs de notre imaginaire avec ce mélange subtil entre chants, plaintes, résonnances mémorielles étranges et agrégats complexes, chaque musicien déployant ses filets sonores en accompagnement de l'autre, en un jeu complexe d'anticipation, d'inclusion, de recyclage.
Le silence qui suit nous laisse vide.
Foussat et Camões nous offrent là unne errance aux bifurcations multiples, imprévisibles, un pur poème qui aiguise notre imaginaire.
Ils prouvent, par là même, qu'en matière de musique improvisée, un plus un font bien plus que ce que nous disent les mathématiques élémentaires.
Ne surtout pas s'en passer.