Review of Songs [12k1036]

Boomkat (UK)

The first gem of the year on 12k comes to us from French sound artist S├ębastien Roux, who you may have heard recently helping out Greg Davis on their Carpark-released collaboration album or releasing on New York label Apestaartje. This has set him in good stead for Songs, which one might say is his most completely realized collection of work. Songs is an odd way to label this curious record though, as the tracks are as far from songs as one could get. Each piece here is composed using a specific instrument or instruments (“The Cello Song”, “The Guitar and Drums Song” etc.) yet instead of playing on the obvious, Roux extracts unheard detail from his tools, amplifying intricacies and processing the recorded sound to create something quite startling. Probably closest to the work of the Musique Concrete movement; Roux obviously has his roots in French experimentalism (Studio GRM, Luc Ferrari, Pierre Schaeffer et al) and even works at the IRCAM institute, where so much of this music was originally conceived. Luckily though, Roux does manage to inject a contemporary feel to the tracks, much as Keith Fullerton Whitman did on his last album Playthroughs. The tracks are steeped in history but remain listenable, interesting and most importantly – beautiful.

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