Bi-Ki ? — Quelque Chose au Milieu
(Circum-Disc LX008, 2016, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2017-08-13
Bi-Ki ? is the duo of two alto sax players, Sakina Abdou and Jean-Baptiste Rubin, and in concert situations they typically perform from within the audience, the two players following each other, mixing their sounds and avoiding collisions, in an explorative environment where all the sonic possibilities of the instruments can be opened and discovered in various sound spaces. There is a third factor in their sound, that of Jean-Luc Guionnet, who does live recording, mixing, editing, and sound manipulation. The fact that Guionnet is also (and primarily) a saxophone player – although he doesn’t play the instrument here – allows him the freedom to be able to put his ideas into the textural mix; his part is essential to the performances and recording. In fact these recordings took place in various locations in the town of Lomme, in the north of France, places known for their ambient sound qualities that can form, sculpt, and recreate the sounds of the players. The fold-apart booklet included in the disc gives some clues: we see the two players on opposite sides of what appear to be pews in a church, with Guionnet set up with his mixing table of tricks and treatments mid-way between them. We also see them performing in a large warehouse with high cielings and concrete wall, and at the side of a large indoor public swimming pool. Often we hear voices and other ambient sounds that accompany the on-location live recordings. Most of the pieces are slow moving textural pieces, or simple melodic chases, often with the two players in unison with slight variations between them, but occasionally one hears intense, almost chaotic, rapid-fire looping. One might be reading this review and thinking about a sound similar to Gilbert Artman’s Urban Sax, and in fact this has a similar feel at times: the use of saxophones exclusively in various ambient environments, yet Bi-Ki? is not so lush and billowy, instead being far more skeletal and purely explorative – after all we only have two saxophones producing all the sound, although Guionnet’s manipulations make the duo sound much larger than life. Definitely cool stuff for listeners looking for something outside the box.
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more