U04 | Kassel Jaeger | lignes d’erre & randons
1. windshore : excerpt
format : CD ltd to 200 copies
release year : 2010
length : 42’11
status : SOLD OUT
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[ante-scriptum/preface by Jim Haynes]
Secrets. Hidden places. Unnamed memories. This is what is known of Kassel Jaeger ‘s Lignes d’erre & Randons.
Furthermore, the name Kassel Jaeger itself is a fiction — a pseudonym employed by a Parisian composer who claims membership at GRM.
I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of that, or if I’m supposed to believe it.
The composer teases with the notion that the source sounds for this electro-acoustic album originate from places that are important to Jaeger, whoever this person may be ; and he (or she) declines to state what is so important about those sites.
In keeping with the modus operandi of many who work with field recordings into composition, Jaeger presents a disjunct between the way those places might have actually sounded and how he remembers those sounds. Hence, the sound/thought/concept/whatever has become abstracted by emotion, history, context and the fallibility of memory. Here’s something a Proustian endgame in the willful slippage between remembrance and forgetting.
Throughout this conceptual framework, Jaeger presents a network of artifacts : some digital, most environmental.
The opening track — “Windshore” — moves through a repeating series of inhalations and exhalations, snipped from that bank of aforementioned field recordings and reconfigured into something that resembles human slumber. The filigree of digitalia is draped across many of his field recordings, but the mixture of the digital glitches with the unpredictability of the natural world is an attempted emulsion of oil and water. Such is the case for “Nocturne” with its elongated resonance from what could harken from the innards of various metal pipes layered with a zombified half-melody tuned from cable buzz and various CPU fizzing. These sounds may be mixed in the same audio space, but each retains its own separate course of action independent of the other. Through the gurgling and creaking of an object being worked through a muddy embankment (or something that sounds very much like such a place) on “Dispersion des Limbes”, Jaeger offers a bit of history lesson looking back to the work of GRM alumni Luc Ferrari and Michel Chion, with much more of a psychogeographical take on concrete strategies.
: info :
What originated these “lignes d’erre & randons” were sounds collected in different and special spaces which have been important to me. These sounds, trapped into my remembrances, had no other choice than mutate and evolve, drawing subterranean flows and creating a genuine underworld of recollections. (Kassel Jaeger)
: reviews :
In these times of maximum transparency, Kassel Jaeger‘s musical personality remains remarkably elusive. From an aesthetic angle, he is a field recorder working with a high degree of post-processing. From a performative perspective, he is an improviser working with field recordings. To historians, he is a sound artists in the Musique Concrète tradition. As lignes d’erre & randons proves, all interpretations are as true, to a degree, as they are irrelevant. These recordings of wind and water, Parisian pipelines and German rivers, of insects and algae are always just points of departure, the result by default a composite of fact and temporal distance. Jaeger doesn’t just accept the limitations of faithfully re-assembling the past, he actually considers them a primary source of creativity. Through the lens of transfiguration, everything appears both more beguiling and bewildering : On “vultighjime”, the sounds of ultralight aircraft motor engines on Corsica are assembled into a subtle score of pitched points, bent curves, discrete drones and the occasional aerial chord. “windshore”, similarly, hinges on a duet-like interplay between breaking waves and ghostly breathing sounds. These pieces are clearly carefully constructed, and yet they appear perfectly ‘real’, showing the inner world as a natural extension of physical manifestations. In these times of maximum transparency, Jaeger is always one step ahead of the listener when it comes to his approach, aims and choice of tools, which lends his compositions a slightly unsettling touch. Clearly, mystery remains a precious commodity: Would I like to visit the places Jaeger‘s depicting? I’m not sure, but it’s hard to avert my ears.
I had never listened to any of Kassel Jaeger’s works before approaching “Lignes d’erre & randons” and after just a couple of listenings I was completely blown away.
Working with natural sound sources has always been for me a way to explore the limitless potential of the digital world. How can we manage technology and computers without loosing touch with natural and organic sounds? Is it possible to use digital signal processing without ruin the prominent characteristics of natural sounds? Is it possible to create an alternative sound dimension between the boundaries?
If you are into field recordings and sound art, and I know you are, please grab a copy of this fine album and listen. Listen and think of what you are listening.
“Windshore” is lugubrious and dark, is like a nervous animal, restless and always in movement. Snaps and crackles are entwined with drones and low rumbles while distorted wheezing and chains-like sounds sweep the high part of the spectrum.
In “Zwishenstadt” the listener is shifted into a sound composition made of hisses and loose frequencies, the overall atmosphere is gloomy especially due to the short noisy interferences and the subtle digital artifacts that constantly accompany the progress of the piece.
“Nocturne” is an aural assault. The collision between organic environmental sounds and the digital world of zeros and ones is now more than ever evident. Static electricity pervades the air.
“Vultighjime” birds and airplanes. A symphony of the flight. Wings and motors sound together.
“Blank Pyramid”, “Dispersion des limbes”, “Pneuma”: contact microphones, hydrophones and field recordings. Subtle distortions. “Music concrète” attitude applied to an ever changing soundscape.
Again, please listen and keep asking questions. This record provides infinite answers.
The Field Reporter
Parisian sound artist Kassel Jaeger presents a rather compelling seven tracks on Lignes d’erre & Randons that surf between hewn field recordings and rarified electronics. Joe Colley, Fennesz, and Tarab come to mind on many occasions, but as these artists stick to their respective styles, Jaeger is somehow able to take from all of them to create his (or her) own ecology of sound (not to say that these guys are even on Jaeger’s radar, stylistically I just see parallels).
Jaeger shrouds these tracks with an air of mystery as the liner only hints at sources and locations. Insects, rivers, and pipelines are mentioned, and if one pays close enough attention some of these can be revealed, such as on Dispersion Des Limbes, with its weather beaten backdrop of wind and rain that eventually gives way to a wash of schizophrenic activity, or the closer Pneuma, that distinctly sounds like wind resonating through a pipeline. Other tracks, like the fantastic Blank Pyramid, with its repetition of some unknown ghostly voice, remain a complete mystery to me, and are all the better for it. Lignes d’erre & Randons is a remarkable blending of styles and is yet another great production from Daniel Crokaert at Unfathomless.
The Unfathomless label continues its pursual of grimly fluid, introspective, subterranean drone work, a style that’s become increasingly widespread in the last year as others follow where Daniel Crokaert and associates lead. Few and far between, though, are those as proficient as Kassel Jaeger. Here the house style is augmented further with a widening of palette through inclusion of electronics, and a deepening of interaction with source material. Not an advocate of processing the life out of his sounds or of letting latent textures overdetermine, the mysterious Kassel Jaeger instead incorporates them wholesale, fully enacting the linkage of sound and idea.
Jaeger recorded ‘rivers shores in Berlin and Köln, wind & pipelines in Paris, air and nocturnal insects in some remote places in France, algae, mudflat and harbor in I’Île de Ré, ultralight aircraft in Pinarello (Corsica) and other sounds in some other hidden places. He comments that “What originated these “lignes d’erre & randons” were sounds collected in different and special spaces which have been important to me. These sounds, trapped into my remembrances, had no other choice than mutate and evolve, drawing subterranean flows and creating a genuine underworld of recollections.” Which perhaps begs the question as to why, if these places were so important, should those sounds be so mutated. Be that as it may, Jaeger, at day time a sound engineer at GRM in Paris, has a fine ear when it comes to recording and treating these sounds. The seven pieces resulting from these sound sources are among the best of this series – works with more to do the world of electro-acoustic sound treatments inhabited by INA/GRM than that of microsound. Jaeger resists the trap of stretching out a limited set of sounds with computer plug-ins, going the extra mile to create multi-layered collage forms, as can be heard to absorbing effect on pieces such as “Nocturne” and “Pneuma.”
…Anyway tonight I listened to a CD that I only played for the first time yesterday but I feel I have spent enough time with it after four spins to be able to set my thoughts down. The disc is a release named Lignes d’erre & randons by a French (I think) composer/sound artist I wasn’t aware of previously named Kassel Jaeger. The release is the fourth in the Daniel Crokaert’s visually appealing label Unfathomless’ catalogue…Now the Unfathomless label, which is linked to Crokaert’s other imprint Mystery Sea, is probably familiar to people now, and should then points towards the kind of music featured here – layered, collaged, possibly treated field recordings…
The sounds used throughout the CD are all very appealing, collected far and wide around Europe and ranging from the vaguely industrial (harbours, pipelines etc) to the purely natural (wind, insects, algae). Jaeger apparently has allegiances to the GRM, and often there is a sense of musique concrete’s history in here, with many small sounds flipping past quite quickly in a manner that generates a degree of drama so often missing from this kind of album. Just as often though the sounds give the impression of being fed through a blender, so what we hear slips towards a kind of washed out ambience, often underpinned by a slight sense of rhythm formed as samples are looped, not obviously, but clearly enough to give the music a gentle pulse…
So, in case you were wondering, for me, the drama and dynamics are good…The fourth track here, named Vultighjime is very clever. The sound of (multitracked ?) ultralight aircraft have been recorded, and for much of the piece left to dominate the whole of the soundfield, giving the impression of a small army of oversized flies moving in unison. For the relatively brief duration of the track this is all we hear, perhaps with some added tones ? The sensation is an unusual one. It’s clear to us that that what we are hearing is these small planes, they sound so familiar, but somehow, when they are left as the key focus for a while, regaining it near the end and when the sounds strip back down a little. This piece shows what can be done with simple field recording phenomena when considered and arranged in a thoughtful and this case very simple manner.
…Not without its merits… [edited version].
The Watchful Ear
Daniel Crokaert’s Mystery Sea spin-off label Unfathomless continues to gather pace with this outing from a new name to me. I have no info on the who, the what and the how of the composer so I’m going to absolutely let the music speak for him. If there’s a definite house style to the Unfathomless label (which would be hardly surprising when filtered through the ears of it’s sole proprietor) then that style would be for grimly fluid, introspective, subterranean (or should that be sub-aquatic) drone work. It’s a beautiful sound when done right and one that is becoming increasingly popular as others follow where Daniel and his chosen artists lead. Unfortunately not all those followers are as astute as they may be and very few indeed are as seemingly astute as Kassel Jaeger appears to be. Here he / she / it has taken the house style and augmented it further through a widening of palette (the inclusion of electronics) and a deepening of interaction with his sounds. Not content to simply process his sounds into oblivion and allow the latent textures to decide the shape and sound he instead has incorporated them almost un-adulterated into the whole and we get to fully appreciate the interaction of sound and idea in a manner that happens on far too few occasions. A new benchmark for an already excellent series methinks.
Wonderful Wooden Reasons
Apart from his release on Mystery Sea called ‘EE[ND] (see Vital Weekly 611), I never heard of Kassel Jaeger again, and now he’s appearing on the Mystery Sea subdivision Unfathomless, thus granted a ‘real’ CD. Jaeger recorded ‘rivers shores in Berlin and Köln, wind & pipelines in Paris, air and nocturnal insects in some remote places in France, algae, mudflat and harbor in I’Île de Ré, ultralight aircraft in Pinarello (Corsica) and other sounds in some other hidden places, as written on the cover. On the label’s website we find his own comment: “What originated these “lignes d’erre & randons” were sounds collected in different and special spaces which have been important to me. These sounds, trapped into my remembrances, had no other choice than mutate and evolve, drawing subterranean flows and creating a genuine underworld of recollections”, which perhaps as an artist’ statement is a bit poor. Why, if these places were so important, mutate and evolve those sounds, I wondered. Jaeger, at day time a sound engineer at GRM in Paris, however has a fine ear when it comes to recording these sounds and treating them with computer aims. The seven pieces he put together with these sound sources are great, just like ‘EE[ND]’. His works has more to do the world of electro-acoustic sound treatments inhabited by the world of INA/GRM than that of microsound. For Jaeger its apparently important not to stretch out a limited set of sounds with some computer plug ins, but to create a piece that is multi-layered, put together in a collage form. His works reminds me of that of Christopher McFall or Jos Smolders, both of whom stretch out the possibilities of working with field recordings. A rare thing in that particular world, and as such Jaeger does some more than excellent work.
Frans de Waard