LIONEL MARCHETTI – PLANKTOS 2015 – 2020
With a total playing time of 3 hours and 43 minutes, Planktos 2015-2020 can be quite a challenging listen. But it’s not mandatory to listen to this set in one go (although that definitely has its own reward): the five mouvements (parts) are all separated with a 2 second pause which gives just enough time to stop playing and continue at another moment.
But, on the other hand: the very moment you’re captured by the sound worlds that are created here by Lionel Marchetti, you probably won’t get tempted to stop listening until it is over. Simply because this is a fascinating journey into the world of sound – and into the depth of the oceans.
The subtitle of this album, composed in relation to the poetic work Planktos by Régis Poulet, is Composition de Musique Concrète. I assume that quite some listeners immediately associate this with ‘difficult listening’, so it may be a good moment to cite the (Wikipedia) definition of Musique Concrète here so we know what we’re talking about:
Musique Concrète is “a type of music composition that utilizes recorded sounds as raw material. Sounds are often modified through the application of audio effects and tape manipulation techniques and may be assembled into a form of montage. It can feature sounds derived from recordings of musical instruments, the human voice, and the natural environment as well as those created using synthesizers and computer-based digital signal processing. Compositions in this idiom are not restricted to the normal musical rules of melody, harmony, rhythm, metre, and so on. It exploits acousmatic listening, meaning sound identities can often be intentionally obscured or appear unconnected to their source cause.”
I deliberately include this long Wiki-quote because it is a perfect description of what Lionel Marchetti explores on this album. This is not a collection of recordings of bricks falling or doors slamming etcetera: Marchetti uses a range of synthesizers (Moog, Roland, Korg, Teisco, Arturia, Yamaha, Tupolev), electric guitars, harp, clarinet and analog and digital processing to create this body of work.
But at the same time: read again. Isn’t this a description, ánd an instrumentation, that fits many (if not most) of experimental ambient/electronic music and sound art? Don’t get me wrong: Planktos is nót ‘ambient’ music. Not at all! It cannot be ‘ignored’ in the background, as the Eno-definition suggests. On the contrary: it’s best to put yoursélf in the background and let these sounds overwhelm you.
plongeons plus loin
plongeons pour dépasser
les temps d’horreur de l’industrie
baleinière et tous ses massacres
let’s dive further
dive to overtake
the horror times of the whale-like ships of
industry and all its massacres)
Lionel Marchetti “is one of a handful of artists who in the mid-to-late 1990s took electroacoustic music out of the academic studios and into the free improvisation ring”.
He developed a set-up of microphones and loudspeakers he uses on stage “along with tape recorders, prepared CD’s, motor and radios, which he refers to as an ‘electroacoustic contraption.”
It’s hard to explain what about this ‘music’ (for lack of a better word) it is that touches me. Yes, it seems completely detached from everyday life, and has nothing to do with wat you hear on everyday radio. But no, it does not feel as unemotional as some of the academic musique concrète may do.
Perhaps the secret lies in the description in the liner notes by Régis Poulet itself (which are in French, but I recommend copying the text in full into the deepl.com translator for a comprehensible translation), who describes this music as geopoetic music: music which “would express neither the self, nor the sound, but the world.”
“The diversity of sound materials is on a par with that of the Ocean: how can we express the furtive, secret or luminous presences, the massive or incongruous presence of these beings whose existence we may be unaware of?”
Well, I guess this collection is an answer to that question.
Planktos is self-released and – due to its length – only available as a digital download. The files can be downloaded in their original master quality (48khz-24 bits), so be sure to take your time and dó download them in lossless quality!