Friday, August 14, 2009
Jean Guérin, TACET
Futura, 1971; reissued by Elica; availability uncertain
8 tracks, 39:11
The French never cease to amaze and confound! Jean Guérin was mostly known as a drummer, appearing on quite a few free jazz sessions. For this, his only solo outing, he set out to make a soundtrack to a film called BOF. Having never seen the film, I'm not certain how much of the album was actually used. The soundtrack was released as TACET on the legendary Futura label (also known for putting out records by Jacques Thollot, Red Noise, and Mahogany Brain). His choice of musicians is absolutely impeccable; notable figures of the French scene like Bernard Vitet and Philippe Maté contribute their talents. Vitet even plays "underwater trumpet"! Guérin himself takes up a lot of instruments, from electric bass to darbouka to VCS3 and sound generators. Overall, TACET is full of strange sounds and even stranger arrangements. Françoise Achard contributes wordless vocals to several tracks, and most of the time her voice sounds like another instrument rather than a human being. The use of both contrabass and electric bass on some tracks provides an interesting sound, considering the electric bass is treated to sound nothing like it should (this isn't a bad thing!). It's hard to pick out standout tracks, since this all flows together perfectly and is best experienced all the way through. The first and last tracks, "Triptik 2" and "Gaub 71" respectively, both feature the same fast rhythm (which sounds like a mix of darbouka and primitive drum machine), but otherwise are different entities. "Gaub 71" is the more experimental of the two, with a constantly evolving structure over its eight minutes. "Triptik 2" is punctuated with the trumpets of Jean Paul Rondepierre and Vitet, and Maté contrubutes his saxophone. This is the closest that TACET comes to jazz, as the remaining tracks are pure explorations of sound, somewhere between free jazz and the cosmic explorations of Kluster et al. Truly an obscure masterpiece, TACET deserves a much bigger audience; other reviewers have pointed out that this points forward to Herbie Hancock's space classics MWANDISHI and CROSSINGS, which isn't very far off. It definitely points forward to post-rock as well, with its use of studio effects and loose structures. HIGHLY recommended!