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 horses as mythical and spiritual chaperons — this 33-minute work (recorded at 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.
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