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Anne-James Chaton/Andy Moor - Transfer

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Artist: Anne-James Chaton/Andy Moor

Album: Transfer

Label: Unsounds

Review date: Aug. 7, 2013

Anne-James Chaton / Andy Moor - “Un Histoire d’Aviation: Transfer 3”

Anne-James Chaton is a sound poet, or as he says in his native French, un poète sonore. Most artists of his ilk operate outside the realm of speech; Chaton, on the other hand, is foremost a word-wielder. He reads texts, either selected or found, with an unemphatic delivery that puts the burden upon the meaning of individual words and the rhythm of his voice to generate some effect. He is well matched with Andy Moor, best known as one of The Ex’s guitarists. Moor’s playing balances jagged fullness with emptiness, leaving enough between each well-placed strike for you to hit the ground.

On their first album, La Journaliste, Moor took advantage of the available space to get his ya-yas out, post-punk style, tossing out bent-tine notes and blood-drawing chords every which way. Transfer, on the other hand, is all about confinement. Originally eight of its 11 tracks (due to an indexing error, two pieces are combined on the fourth track) appeared on a series of transportation-themed singles, each pressed in an edition of 100 and wrapped in a poster. The CD includes two more tracks with an ill fated nautical them and an extra version of the track “Metro.” Each original single presented a coin-like duality; Inbound-Outbound paired fictional and nonfictional sides, Princess In A Car the ill-fated automotive encounters of two princesses, Grace Kelly and Diana, Princess of Wales. And Moor has likewise reigned in his guitar playing, to the point where it’s sometimes a ghost in the mix, revealing its presence in brief glimpses from behind a big dubby boom, some thunderclaps, or a looped drumbeat.

Chaton, on the other hand, multi-tracks his voice, loops it into a beat, splits it into dry and distorted channels, speaking in both French and English. His voice is as unemotional as a bell, tolling words. Heard as sound, it blurs the boundary between hypnotic and numbing; listen for meaning and the words batter you like a ram. “D’ouest en Est” relentlessly lists points on Jules Verne’s route around the world over a relentless insect disco beat, rendering encounters with elephants and train stations interchangeable. On “Metro,” he layers the voices of multiple contributors reading the names of train stations from their hometown. Put the song on repeat and you’ll feel like your sinking into the collective unconscious’s mostly forgotten accumulation of morning time commutes. To spend time with this record is to know that machine-born migration is uniquely human, yet dehumanizing.

By Bill Meyer

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