French improvisational guitarist and member of experimental groups Zooloop, Aarde and Zwann eï, Guilaume Gargaud will be releasing a 9 track CD entitled Here sometime in august. This will be his third solo CD, with previous releases She on Utech Records and Le Lieu Dirty Demos. Go to the release page for mp3 clips and additional info.
Press for She:
The unobscured natural photography on the cover of this disc sets up what is contained within. While the label is usually focused on the dark, opaque droning sounds, Gargaud’s contribution to Utech is much clearer and lighter, at least in relative terms. Mixing abstract electronics with some occasionally plaintive guitar playing, it stays relatively warm and organic throughout, with a few intentional, but compelling bumps along the way. At its core, it feels like a more stripped down version of Fennesz.
The comparison to Christian Fennesz is not just one of convenience though. Both artists meld the abstract chaos of electronics with some pure and melodic guitar, allowing the timbre and color of the instrument to shine through the mire at times. However, Gargaud is less focused on the complex composition techniques of Fennesz, and the result is a somewhat less nuanced and complex sound, but more of an improvisational one that allows more than a modicum of chance to come in.
Tracks like “Le Chien De Jose” push the guitar to the margins to focus on the electronics. The tracks is focused initially on a quiet, distant hum that slowly comes into focus, high end digital tones, gurgling noises, and ultrasonic squeals eventually come in, with what sounds like it could be some extremely unconventional guitar riffs buried in the low end of the sonic spectrum. “Clairiere” similarly keeps the guitar at bay by leading off with some subtle static and running water type sounds, a few shards of guitar tones buzz in and out, but the electronics stay the focus.
“La Legende Du Scarabe” does feature some soft, untreated guitar notes, though they, along with electronic strings, pings, and organ tones, are all fed through a dubby echo chamber that allows each to just bounce around the mix into infinity. The closing “Au Bord Du Lac” is similar, letting beautiful guitar notes shine through a hazy, opaque atmosphere of lush electronic tones. “Mer Du Nord” is perhaps the most overt, letting the clear guitar strums dominate while organic, atmosphereic ambience subtly punctuate.
While the album never gets “harsh,” both “Lumiere Froide” and “Emissaire” are perhaps the most pronounced, both being focused on a swirling mess of sounds that, at least in the microscopic sense, sound orchestral, but are so jumbled as to be less than discernable, the latter adds some vaguely kraut rock guitar soloing, albeit heavily treated and somewhat obscured by the chaos.
Once again I have to give kudos to Keith Utech for releasing yet another young project that, even without a major discography, has already developed a definite and specific sound and style. While the label is mining somewhat consistent territory, it is widely encompassing enough that I know roughly what I will get with each new release, but it’s never a faceless or generic disc at all. — Brainwashed
Press for Le Lieu:
Although limited to a mere 150 copies, Guillaume Gargaud’s wonderful Le Lieu is the type of record that deserves a large-scale release. This is a magnificent drone album that ranks among the best I have heard. Armed with only a “prepared” guitar and a computer, France’s Gargaud has created an inspired and inspiring mood piece that is a joy to behold. You’ll want to find yourself a pitch black room and a comfortable chair so you can best immerse yourself in the atmospheric bliss that comprises Le Lieu.
The record begins with its most intense composition, the eleven minute “Téphrosia.” Soaked in a reedy electronic hum, it introduces a dense, pulsing drone that is somehow dark and tense, yet miraculously calming. There is a sense of something brooding – a brittle image of the unknown lurking under the surface – yet the result is meditative in a manner akin to Biosphere’s work. Similarly dense and bass-heavy is “Mille plis,” a hazy mass with an oddly regal glow. On a different note, “Au milieu” is clicky and finicky, drenched in reverb but strangely anxious and a tad overwhelming. A similar formula is employed on tribal “Le lieu” which makes use of acoustic guitar and woodwinds to build towards a wonderful climax. However, the album’s hidden treat is the brief “Les feuilles des forêts vierges,” a composition so overwhelmingly haunting that you’ll want to leave a nightlight on.
This recording proved to be a real gem for me. Limited-edition drone albums have reached Starbucks-calibre ubiquity on today’s music scene it seems, but it is rare for one disc to be so exceptional. Dark, cinematic, and unfailingly emotional, Guillaume Gargaud’s Le Lieu has solidified its place as one of my favourite releases of 2008. Very recommended for serious music fans.