Music Reviews

Artist: Jacaszek & Kwartludium (@)
Title: Catalogue Des Arbres
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
The integration of instrumental and ambient music with field recordings and sound of nature has almost become a cliche so that the discriminating factor is the aesthaetic quality of such an integration and the aesthaetics that Polish electroacoustic musician Michal Jacascek and the ensemble Kwartludium (Dagna Sadkowska on violin, clarinet player Michal Gorczynski, Pawel Nowicki on percussions and pianist Piotr Nowicki) convey on this "Catalogue des Arbres" (French for "Catalogue of Trees") is undoubtedly sterling from this point of view. The choice of a French title is not a matter of mannerism, but it's just a quotation of "Catalogue d'oiseaux" ("Bird catalogue") by French composer Olivier Messiaen, the forerunning oeuvre of the so-called biomusic where he incorporated the delicate chirps and tweets by thirteen different birds into likewise delicate compositions. By reversing the order that many poets and writers followed by using musical metaphors to render their enchantment for nature, Jacascek and Kwartludium turn into interpreter of the hidden sound of trees, whose presence is not limited to a bunch of field recordings but they seem to mark the sound of this project since the opening "Sigh (Les Peupliers)", where the musicians manage to render the serene magnificence of poplars whose elevation got evoked by 441 Hz Chamber Choir sylvan-like voices. A certain anxiety creeps into the record on the disquieting lullaby of the following "Green Hour", which evokes the so-called natural deficit disorder or Louv's hypothesis about some behavioral problems caused by the disconnection between humans (mainly children) and nature, and on "A book of lake (Roseliere)", where percussions seem to render the flowing of reed beds and clarinet could resemble the sound of some buzzing small inhabitants of wetlands where reed wildly grows. Fittingly, wind instruments had a prominent function in "Garden (Les Sureaux)", where they quote elderberry, whose branches are traditionally used for a number of flutes and wind instruments in Eastern Europe; moreover the track sounds like rendering the venomous beauty of sambucus, whose parts mainly includes cyanide. A similar contrasting suggestion comes from the listening of "From a seashell", where the enchanting sonic elements sounds like the clash between the beauty of those resounding forms and the circumstance that those exoskeletons are like abandoned houses or cemeteries. A feeling of vague dismay and digginess trickles from the following tracks "Circling (Le Pre)" and "Anthem (La Foret)", which precede the astonishing finale of "Kingdom (Les Chenes, Les Bouleaux)" here 441 Hz Chamber Choir emphasizes the quivering atmosphere of the soundscape again.

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