As an adjunct to his ‘proper’ new album “Reflex”, Jean-Philippe Gross has offered up a distinctly odd 22-minute track Curling. Over a steady and regular drone tone, the only element that really differentiates this from just being late-night sports TV found sound, it’s the sound of a series of curling teams discussing their shots, variously in English and what I think is either German or Dutch. The sound of scratching brushes and impacting picks (if they’re called pucks?) adds the under-texture, with occasional crowd appreciation offering a kind of structure. It’s a raw juxtaposition between the vocal tension- which at times turns into real shouting- and the low-level bass drone underneath.
The use of lengthy vocal samples reminds me of the first CNSNNT release, but without the techno underpinning. But ultimately this becomes something of an acquired taste. As a UK resident the equivalent I’d compare it to is like listening to snooker with your eyes closed- without a visual guide to what’s happening, or a commentary, it’s an exercise in tension without context- which I think is what Jean-Philippe Gross is aiming at.
Like dropping into some random sport on late-night TV because you can’t sleep, 20 minutes is almost long enough to feel engaged even if you’ve never watched the sport ever before. I find myself beginning to relate to these players- one of whom seems to be called Caitlin- and wondering when this match was, and who won. But it seems I’ll never know, which is oddly frustrating.
It’s rare that any piece can make you feel so relaxed and so tense at the same time. A curious listening experience, if not entirely an enjoyable one.