ZIMOUN – VARIOUS VIBRATING MATERIALS
Before you read on, please look at the album cover for a while (you can magnify it by clicking on it).
What did you see? Did you close the image after a few seconds recognising what it was, or did you take some time exploring the details of what you saw?
There’s a direct relation to the way you should listen to this 62-minute recording of Various Vibrating Materials. For the casual listener, it seems there’s not much going on. It’s not even ‘music’. It is an extremely minimalist sound space: a hardly noticeable sub-level rumble layered with brighter rustlings of undetermined sources sounding like a gentle rain or the sound of insects.
But at the same time, there’s quite a lot going on in the sound itself – which will become clear when you play this on a decent sound system with the volume turned up (on a less-than-decent system you’ll risk tearing up your speakers).
This is an exploration of the nature of sound that cannot be described in musical terms. Unless, of course, you can experience all sound as ‘music’.
Swiss sound sculpturist Zimoun created Various Vibrating Materials from “microscopic audio recordings of small materials set under vibration to generate sounds”. The best way to experience the result is to listen ‘microscopically’ too. It’ll open an entire new detailed world that would otherwise remain unnoticed: “dense and mysterious where foreground and background mesh”.
Of course, it requires an appropriate unhurried state of mind to fully enjoy these 62 minutes – call it ‘deep listening’. It may be extremely minimalist in nature, but play it with some volume and you may feel it more than hear it. Observe the movement of your speakers cones and you’ll find that they have to work hard to reproduce a complicated sound like this.
Various Vibrating Materials was first presented at the Oto Sound Museum in 2021. It is released on Richard Chartier’s Line label – “born from the desire to take the tactile qualities of audio installations from the gallery space to listeners’ living rooms”.
You can take that ‘tactile’ quite literally here!
Checking Zimoun‘s website reveals an impressive collection of sound-installation works, presented in the video of his ‘selected works’. It is not directly related to Various Vibrating Materials but I embed it here since it demonstrates that Zimoun‘s work is as attractive visually as it is sonically.
SIMON MARTIN – MUSIQUE D’ART
Quebec-born composer Simon Martin does not suffer from false modesty: his music is Art – so why not simply also call it that.
2015 saw the premiere of Musique d’Art pour Quintette a Cordes, in 2017 he presented Musique d’Art pour Cor, Trombone, Tuba et Electronique. 2019 was the year of the first performance of Musique D’Art Pour Violon, Alto, Violoncelle, Contrabasse et Traitement by Ensemble Musikfabrik from Cologne – which is now officially released on CD.
According to Simon Martin “the formal construction of the work is very simple: I gradually integrate harmonics of increasing order”.
This statement is followed by an explanation of the different harmonics used in this piece that isn’t very simple to my ears so I won’t try to summarise it here (remember: I have no formal musical training).
Playing these long and quite soft chords requires “remarkable precision of intonation
on the part of the musicians”. To Martin’s surprise, the ensemble did not want to use a tuner, because “if they were to follow the tuner, they weren’t going to follow each other in
the same way.” So, in the live performance as well as in this recording the performance was all by ear.
Musique D’Art is a fascinating (48’36”) minute piece for a string ensemble that grabs your attention from the start and doesn’t let go until it finishes.
SIMON MARTIN – MUSIQUE D’ART (excerpt)