The Maze

Solo CD, Fragment Factory, [Frag35], Hamburg, 2015

“It’s been only a few months since I reviewed ‘Piano Seul’ by Jocelyn Robert, a work he composed on the disklavier. That one interest he has for a long time, but his work is not exclusively centred on this instrument.

His new work is in fact something entirely different. It is a work of electro-acoustic nature, of computers, of field recordings, found sound and instruments. The four pieces here can be seen as “a map of different territories”, Robert writes, “But the mapped territories are not contiguous: I am the tunnel that links these places and times, I am the border that keeps them together.” Robert tells us stories about these places, but he leaves out stuff, very much like if one would make a map: there is always “scaling, removing, enhancing, and adding”.

It’s not always clear where these places are; maybe only ‘San Francisco #1’ gives us an indication of a place. Sometimes a voice pops up, such as in ‘La Ville, La Nuit’, which indicates we are in Brussels. It’s not easy to link all of the text (and there is more on the website) to the actual music, but I must say, regardless of any story, it makes up quite an interesting listening experience.

Robert takes quite a conceptual approach to his field recordings and chops them up and down, and sometimes leaves them untouched, such as in ‘La Ville, La Nuit’; but in ‘San Francisco #1’ everything is cut-up, and it sounds like a walk in the park with a failing microphone causing lots of drop-outs. In ‘La Chute d’Icare’ there is a bit of piano, gradually turning from processed to un-processed and it makes an unusual more musical coda to this release. ‘Le Fil d’Ariane’, the opening piece, on the other hand makes more noisy waves and in between we have some fifty minutes of finely crafted electro-acoustic music.

It’s certainly not a story that is easy to read, but it allows the listener for many interpretations of his own.” (FdW)