Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Artist: Francois Bayle
Title: Tremblements
Format: LP
Label: Editions Mego
Tremblements re-issues two experimental electronic works from the end of the 1970’s, when the synthesizer was well on the way to stepping out of the avantgarde and the Radiophonic Workshop and into mainstream and pop music. But this arrangement of oscillators, sparkling bleeps, tweaks, bells and found sounds (footsteps, radio noises etc.) is firmly in the former category, with a certain air of theatricality in the deliberately rise-and-fall, stop-and-start performances.

“Tremblement de terre très doux” is a cycling 28-minute series of “climate”, “transit” and “landscape” elements, each one building from a flat soundscape- sometimes silence- into more frenetic sections of layered and high-pitched electronic waves that sound at times like a 70’s TV spaceship computer bank in turn launching, running smoothly then threatening to crash.

There’s less of a sense of revelry in second piece “Toupie dans le ciel”, which is described as containing 27 interconnected ‘cells’ each with a different theme of scientific measurement (distance, pressure, density etc.) though compared to the previous piece this distinction is much more arbitrary- the sound itself is a 21-minute continuous series of meandering, ‘blinking’ oscillators which switch constantly between two slowly changing minor chords, sometimes tending towards surprisingly high, tinnitus-and-dog-whistle level pitches. After eleven minutes we begin to hear lower, more metallic, scratchy tones, but the alarm-like bleeping promptly re-engages and never strays too far away. Things get a little warmer towards the end.

Speaking only for myself, I much preferred the first track, which brought with it a sense of fun, to the harsher and more immersive second piece. Neither track provides a particular ‘missing link’ in the history of electronic music, but fans of this stripped back, in-depth analogue electronic experimental tone will certainly find something to engage with in this.