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Lionel Marchetti & Olivier Capparos - EQUUS

"The liner notes to this CD are all in French, a language which I never mastered, save for ordering a drink and some food. So its hard for me to say what 'Equus' is about. Its composed by Lionel Marchetti, whom we know for his solo work as well as his duo work with Jerome Noetinger, who teams up with Olivier Capparos, of whom I never heard. He is a composer of instrumental and electro-acoustic work. 'Equus' is a most curious, thirty-three minute work. It deals, perhaps exclusively, with voice material. Lots of people lend their voices (Sarah Bernhardt, John Oswald, Pierre Schaeffer, Henri Chopin and many more) and also, I think, that Ash International LP with flight control talk is used. These voices are processed into an electro-acoustic work of extraordinary power - if only I could grasp what it is about. Soft, drone like at times, very loud and noisy towards the end. A powerful work indeed. A true masterpiece in the field of electro-acoustic music. Do not play after dark - scary stuff included. (FdW) - Vital

Lionel Marchetti & Olivier Capparos - EQUUS: Most of the folks who have been reading this magazine for years know that a frequent contributor is POGUS Records... they also know that the music coming from that label is often "different" (which is, in great part, why we so cherish what they send). This recording (a 33 minute CD) by Marchetti & Capparos is the epitome of those differences... sound sculptures in the strongest traditions of musique concrete whose improvised nature will appeal to listeners across the spectrum - as long as they're not afraid of something new! Those who do have difficulty with sonics that depart from "normal" will totally freak when they listen to the 3 rather long compositions here, but I found the electronics to be totally enchanting! The keyword for this type of music, of course, is listen... this isn't music to be taken casually... in fact, it almost demands that you experience it in total solitude; trying to absorb their sound manipulations without total focus would reduce your awareness of their extreme talent. There is no "genre" you can pigeonhole this in... it digs deep into your psyche, massages it with images both disturbing and (at times) volcanic... I found myself in it's grip from the opener to the last second - especially at the 10 minute mark of composition II... spacemen gone totally bonkers. The real beauty of what Lionel & Olivier are doing here is that there is no pretense, no "cheap trickery" - and the recording is full-spectrum... it will blow you away! I give this our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, as well as an "EQ" (energy quotient) rating of 4.78! - Rotcod Zzaj, Improvijazzation Nation

Lionel Marchetti's music, not only his collaborative projects with fellow composer and poet Olivier Capparos, has always been haunted by the past, particularly the radio – through which a whole generation of musique concrète pioneers discovered the sound world around them – in the form of what he calls "divers hasards radiophoniques". Sounds of childhood (a magical time, a voyage of discovery Marchetti took with his own children Adèle and Hadrien on last year's album of the same name) – chiming grandfather clocks, the wheeze of an old accordion, snatches of old chanson and movie soundtracks (here Grace Kelly and James Stewart from Rear Window – of course Marchetti is familiar with his mentor Michel Chion's essay on Hitchcock's use of sound in that film) – combine with Latin incantations, fragments of poetry (notably the rolling r's of Ezra Pound's Canto XLV) and the distant muffled sound of galloping hooves in 33 minutes of magnificently crafted musique concrète realised by Marchetti and Capparos in the studios of INA/GRM in Paris in 2001 and 2002. Marchetti has often compared his pieces to poems, so it's fitting that the disc comes with three of them by way of liner notes. Eric Vuillard's lines "the gallop of horses on the earth is like the first thought of man" and "the dreams of men are the decomposing thoughts of the dead" are curiously appropriate, as is Capparos's tale of a little girl sitting at a table in a clearing in a forest. "You're here at last. I was waiting for you. You're looking for the animal you have lost. I'm trying to create one." Masterly.–DW, Paris Transatlantic

Equus refers to the family "Equidae that comprises the horses, asses, zebras, and related recent and extinct mammals". With a drawing of a headless horse on its cover, it's hard to avoid comparisons between Equus the album and Equus the recently revived 1973 play, staring "I'm going to do the nude scenes" Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe and dealing with a young man and his "pathological religious/sexual fascination with horses". Author Peter Shaffer wrote the work as a fictional account to piece together events behind the real-life crime of a 17-year old London boy who gouged out the eyes of six horses. Though musique concrètists Lionel Marchetti and Olivier Capparos have less scandalous ideas in mind — offering essays on the symbolism of horsses as mythical and spiritual chaperons — this 33-minute work (recorded att the esteemed INA GRM in 2001-02) manifests with equal intrigue: laid out with well-executed controlled confusion, it reveals itself sonically as a spooky CBS Radio Drama whodunit. Will the guidance from Equus lead or mislead you on this journey "through human memory and history" to answer the question "whether we are alive or not"? Is the sketch on the case actually a Minotaur, and your presence here is foreplay before his feast? Silliness aside, Marchetti and Capparos create dense textures akin to being blindfolded in a football field sized room. Space matters increasingly as echoed breathing, distant galloping, muddled AM radio broadcasts, aborted swells, plunderphonic church bells, energy spikes, percussive shudders, pulsing laughter and clouds of angelic tone clusters languidly roll by without conspicuous connection; this is slow music with a penchant for bolstering unresolved tension (to be continued?). Occasional pivot points (snatches of spoken dialog, usually) provide footholds amidst the lucidity, but also serve as detours and enforcers of the cyclic déjà vu. In other words, Marchetti and Capparos are excellent musicians-cum-hypnotists-cum-neurosurgeons, musically tapping into and manipulating listener cerebral subconsciousness. Two pedestrian (and heavy-handed) samples, one from Rear Window (at 5:25) and another of Charlton Heston delivering his "Soylent Green is people!" speech (at 24 minutes), almost dispel the mirage. But the loss is marginal, and the whole of Equus (Grand Vehicule) is both a standout offering to the genre and a suitable fealty to some of the names mentioned on the sleeve: Pierres Henry et Schaeffer (Schaeffer vs. Shaffer, another clue), Jean-Luc Goddard and, of course, Alfred Hitchcock. - Dave Madden 2009-12-28

In the 33 minutes of Equus a sensitive individual will find lots of places to visit, the only problem being that those spots keep changing mercilessly due to Capparos and Marchetti’s compositional decisions. They actually define the opus as a journey “through human memory and history”, and what better means than a radio snippet, or a famous voice from the past, to throw us back in the cuddling arms of a breathtaking remembrance? Among the voices in attendance there are Sarah Bernhardt, Pierre Schaeffer, Jean-Luc Godard, Charlton Heston and Alfred Hitchcock. I’m not saying that everybody was recognized; on the other hand, the disturbing fragmentariness exercised with the appearance of these renowned spirits in the piece gifts it with a unique magnetism. The rest, which is essentially a gorgeous example of classic musique concrete, comes courtesy of the illustrious technical proficiency of the couple. These men are able to convert a splinter of nothingness into art via an apparently improbable equalization, thus rendering a subsonic moan as effective as a mother’s heartbeat for a receptive fetus, or a dissonant orchestral stratum the justification of an impermanent enlightenment. A passage at the end of the first movement recalls, curiously enough, Jaroslav Krcek’s Raab; it is just a coincidence. And there’s also a layer of subliminal atrocity, so to speak, that headphones help to discern in selected sections. The images evoked, the shades of long-ago fulfilling the need of poignancy that every conscious creature should ideally feel at least once in a while, the sudden awareness that veracity and imagination tend to mesh in unbelievable ways, are but three of the many enthralling features of an important chapter in the book of contemporary music, which you’ll want to possess without further doubts.- Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
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