Thursday, October 15, 2009
Jean Dubuffet, EXPÉRIENCES MUSICALES
Mandala, 1996 (see review); availability uncertain
9 tracks, 75:19
While mostly known as a visual artist and coiner of the term "art brut", Jean Dubuffet made some very strange recordings as well. This compilation is something of a "best of"; the original EXPÉRIENCES MUSICALES was a box set of six ten-inch records, and these nine tracks represent the cream of the crop. In the liner notes (reproduced in French, English, and German), Dubuffet admits his lack of experience with the instruments used and requests that musicians keep this in mind while listening. Regardless of his skill, Dubuffet creates dense masses of sound with a true arsenal of instruments(which range from flute, cello, and xylophone to more exotic instruments like cymbalon, "paper trumpet", and Chinese mouth organ). All recordings date from 1961, and while the sound quality definitely reflects this, it wouldn't sound right remastered. "La Fleur De Barbe" opens the disc with nearly twenty-four minutes of musical chaos and strangely intoned poetry. It's the only track to feature vocals, and it is quite a stunner, never locking into repetition once. The seven minute "Coq Á L'Oeil", by contrast, is a solo piano improvisation. Some tracks use only a few instruments while others simply say "diverse instruments" and leave it to the listener to decide what is being played. All of the tracks were achieved by multitracking and editing different improvisations; Dubuffet claimed to be ignorant at the time of musique concrete et al, but he came up with his own (intentionally) primitive version. Overall, it's a prime slice of free improvisation, residing somewhere between AMM and outsider music. Fans of Dubuffet's art, musique concrete, and free improvisation would be very much impressed with this effort; his MUSIQUE BRUT is also worth hunting down, though it is far more difficult to find. Good luck!
Edit: On the easier-to-find front, Dubuffet did the cover art for Jasun Martz' THE PILLORY, which is an amazing avant-prog/neo-orchestral masterpiece. Get this as well!