Music as texture - once that leap is made, once the notion is accepted (to quote John Cage) that everything is music (and vice versa), the ear can readily embrace sounds not knit out of the usual fabric of melody, harmony or rhythm. Everything is not only music, but everything is permitted — "music" has been generated by household objects, electronically-powered equipment, the basic human voice, noises sampled, oversampled and resampled ad infinitum. These elements of sonic reproduction have informed whole movements, from the French musique concrétists to the contemporary turntablist, both inventing (and inverting) new forms, models, syntaxes.
Call him simply a "turntablist" and you'd not only be damning ErikM with faint praise, but compromising his entrepreneurial reach; he's messed about with electronic appliqués as much as wheels of steel, figuring samplers and processors into his ornate schemata as well. Thomas Lehn's weapon of choice is the analogue synth, a keyboard he warps well beyond recognition. Forget presets — Lehn folds electricity like Dune's Guild navigators fold space. Les Protorythmiques is derived from a live concert that took place at France's Musique Action Festival in 2005, wherein ErikM and the late Luc Ferrari were invited to unveil the piece using a "real-time" performance process that would have enabled the duo to improvise over their collective bank of sounds. Ferrari's poor health at the time made his involvement impossible, so the promoters invited Lehn to accompany ErikM, who subsequently utilized Ferrari's vast noises in, about and amidst Lehn's polyglotisms. What leaps out of their modules is a galloping onslaught of febrile, multi-syllabic environments, worlds within worlds populated by raging dialects and extraterrestrial articulations, the whoop and holler of urban transit systems, mysterious trysts in noisy flats, machinery falling apart.
What is most telling about this aural tableau is that Lehn and ErikM never allow what at first feels like sonic splatter to dissolve into anarchy: the range of sound ping-pongs across time and space, any innate characteristics that emerge quickly assuming stranger shapes, as if the duo have set their aural stream on fast-forward. Cinematic is too vague a word to describe the soundstage here: Les Protorythmiques maps out texture in far broader strokes than any screen could contain, minutiae and magnanimity vying for the listener's attention in equal measure.
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