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Lionel Marchetti - Sirrus

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Artist: Lionel Marchetti

Album: Sirrus

Label: Auscultare Research

Review date: Oct. 17, 2002

A Rewarding Forray Into Musique Concrete

Musique Concrete has ascended the mythology of electronica culture as the predecessor of the modern Mego / Mille Plateux sound. Unfortunately, the clicks, cuts, and liminal hum punks of today usually ignore the complex compositional history behind Musique Concrete. Instead of following up on serialism and chance composition, laptoppers of the present prefer to emphasize the ambient aesthetics that came out of concrete or, in a few cases, base their work on a failed conceptual premise.

Enter Lionel Marchetti, a fine member of the concrete school, who opts for the spins of the tape machine and processing rather than the laptop. Marchetti's music abstracts sounds at points equal to Schaffear and Luc Ferrari. But an even closer reference point is Stockhausen's "Sans la Soleil" as well as Karlheinz's other abstract works (although that segment of Stockhausen’s corpus is not strictly speaking musique concrete).

Marchetti's music, however, channels more eclectic sources than Stockhausen's. In “Passerele,” a fragment of wild organ brings a moment of warmth to a landscape of analog blurbs. “Sirrus” features some sped-up sounds providing a balance to the darker drones below. At times the album has the feel of a full fledged score, with sounds disengaged from their original source congealing into symphonic structures.

On pieces like “Micro-climat,” though, Marchetti uses a structure closer to field recordings than the abstract sequences of distortions that make up much concrete. Perhaps Marchetti owes a little to the acoustic-ecology of R. Murray Schafer in that this work sounds more like a study of the acoustics of an environment than a direct abstraction of a symphonic score. But Marchetti seems less worried than Schafer about decorating casual listening environments with a conceptual premise. Sirrus is a complex work, with each segment unfolding into a recurring motif of ambient noises that's ahead of the pack of laptop manipulators.

Marchetti’s work is hardly a new direction for concrete, but holding Marchetti up to such groundbreaking impositions might be too lofty. Like the clicks-and-cuts punks who see this school as their predecessors, what’s important here is that the music on Sirrus is a challenging, rewarding, and engaging experience, just not a new one.

By Andrew Jones

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