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Erik Baron / D-Zakord — 58'
(ADN DNN 027 C, 2021, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-05-10

58' Cover art

Baron is a French composer, bassist, and master of unusual soundscapes. 58’ refers to the length of the album’s only track, a minimalist piece written in 2010, recorded in 2013 (by Olivier Lafont, one of the five bassists), mixed in 2020 by Alain Guyon (another of the bassists), so this was a long time in the making needless to say. The group consists of seven guitarists (Dominique Badia, Olivier Bobinnec, Damien Cottet, Matthieu Massé, Francis Rateau, Bruno Rémazeilles, and Sébastien Verlhac) and five bassists (Guyon, Lafont, Baron, Michel Pierna, and Yves Sternicha), and no other musicians. But don’t be too surprised If this sounds nothing like what you expect from the instrumentation involved. In fact I would have to say what we have here sounds more like one long droning piece of electronic music, textural and pure harmonic variations, with louder and quieter parts, and plenty of stretches of near silence (or in fact pure silence). Intermittent blasts of low voltage rumbling opens the piece, then after a few minutes, silence. A pure tone grows out of the silence, slowly and deliberately, then other tones join in turn as the piece builds over the next few minutes, some layers are a mere microtone away from one already in progress, causing a beating effect from the frequency difference, then it all fades away into near silence, only to return again and again, in slightly different variations. The tones are presumably made from the guitars with infinite sustain devices (e-bow), mechanical bowing, and precision volume controls, yet one only hears that instantly recognizable characteristic e-bow distortion in a few places, mostly it’s a combination of textural rumbling and very precise clean tones that seem to hold infinitely, feeding off one another. And breaks of silence. I suppose Baron could have indexed the parts, but that would have defeated the point that this was meant to be listened to as one single complete piece of music, the long blocks of silence being an integral part of the continuum. The level tends to be pretty low, so headphones would certainly enhance the experience, but beware of cranking it up too high when those rumbling bass parts come in. It’s haunting, beautiful, and most unusual, the sudden starts and stops keeping it interesting.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Baron

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