toy.bizarre / EMERGE: Split
It would be interesting to hear how a listener might respond to this split release (available as a download and in a vinyl limited edition of 300 copies) by toy.bizarre (French sound artist Cédric Peyronnet) and EMERGE (Attenuation Circuit label head Sascha Stadlmeier) under blindfold conditions, given how unusual its sound contents are. In fact, the recording’s three pieces are based on field recordings gathered by Peyronnet in 1995 in (partially disused) mines in Puy-Les-Vignes. On this thirty-nine-minute collection, toy.bizarre is represented by two pieces and EMERGE (who, a long admirer of Peyronnet’s work, commissioned the release) a single, twenty-minute setting that’s based on toy.bizarre’s material.
In true soundsculpting tradition, Peyronnet collects representative sounds of a particular place and then composes a work using only those sounds, the goal being to create a sonic portrait of the locale. His first piece, “kdi Dctb 018[a],” teems with flurries of creaking and gravelly sounds, but it’s not without musical content, as Peyronnet threads into its center a droning pulse. It’s not without its share of surprises either, as demonstrated by the abrupt disappearance of the burrowing noises midway through, a move that also produces a dramatic shift in dynamics when the now-unencumbered drone first intones quietly and then swells to a climax. “kdi Dctb 018[b]” bores deeply into its subterranean realm for nine writhing minutes of scraping and scratching, and parts company with the opening setting in burying its drone content almost to the point of near-inaudability.
On his side-long EMERGE setting “msl,” Stadlmeier fashions a complementary treatment to Peyronnet’s that’s filled with an equally generous share of gravelly textures. But “msl” distances itself from the opening settings in working convulsive rhythmic patterns into its musical framework, and the listener is presented with a dramatically different conception despite the fact that it’s based on the same material Peyronnet used for his. Accentuating that difference further, Stadlmeier’s piece ventures down multiple pathways, some episodes densely packed and others less so, and an extensive array of textural treatments is presented as the exploration progresses. One thus comes away from the release hearing “msl” as more of a formally composed setting and the toy.bizarre pieces as incident-rich collages.