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Michael Gendreau


>Here's another one of those riddles in music. Michael Gendreau, once Crawling With Tarts, did an installation performance at 'the unique layout of this group of arch shaped vaults located under the rue Tolbiac in Paris', called 'Les Voutes'. 'The first track is a composition carried out before the concert using vibration recordings made in the structure surrounding the performance space', and the second is the actual live recording. The riddle here is 'what do we hear'? There is a rumble, that is set to repeat - either by loop on a computer or otherwise. There is hardly a difference between both pieces, i.e. its almost impossible to tell when track one ends and track two begins. The rumble continues and together both tracks make a nice continous sound affair. It changes in minimal and subtle ways, and provides a nice ambient sound track for your living room. (Vital, FdW)

>An audio reliquary of an installation by Michael Gendreau, Voûtes is a performance determined by its surroundings – in this instance Les Voutes, a group of arch-shaped vaults located underground in Paris, France.  I’m not going to hazard a guess at how the sounds are actually formed (“a recording of the vibrations” says the accompanying info) but it’s safe to say that the atmosphere created is a product of the environment. Much of the first track is made up of a brief industrial drone that flits across the stereo panorama, with accompanying ambience and, as one might expect from a natural sound, is constantly varying in length and position although its tone remains consistent. It’s a sort of effect that I can imagine Stanley Kubrick wanting to use in 2001: A Space Odyssey – it certainly sounds suitably spooky, almost giving the impression that the temperature in the room has dropped a couple of degrees. It seems perfect for headphone listening – to really appreciate all the incidental parts, one must crank the volume up and that doesn’t necessarily work in a normal domestic space (I must confess, the fridge kicked in during one playback to offer an additional, and not entirely unwelcome, level of atmosphere).  Towards the end of the first track, extra details emerge here and there – an electronic hum, what might be ghostly footsteps.  This isn’t the warm ambient music of a Brian Eno, say, or an Aphex Twin – it’s a chilling work of sounds that aren’t necessarily attractive at first but gradually become familiar. The second track is a live version of a performance of the first piece and has been carefully manipulated, modified and remixed.  On the surface, there’s little difference between the two but the drones sound softer and a little warmer and there are less ambient noises – it is almost as if the Dolby has been switched on for this one.  The end result is a piece that lacks the immediacy of the original version probably precisely because it has been worked on to remove the extra unplanned sounds, and oddly the result is that it sounds less ‘live’ than the first.  If you seek out pieces that capture the ambience of a location, then Voûtes is recommended – although Gendreau may have been better advised leaving the second track equally untouched, or allowing the first version a longer duration. (Judas Kiss)

> Michael Gendreau is an experimental musician from California. A lot of times he builds his own devices to generate sounds. His latest release is for Cohort Records. The last release I reviewed from this label wasn’t actually great to say the least, so I do hope this is a far better and more interesting experience. The album consists of two long pieces, over 20 minutes each, sThe first track is filled with panning sounds of some objects. And that’s about it. Some parts are very quiet, were you almost don’t hear anything, but it’s the panning sounds all the way through. Like mentioned in the title, the second track is supposed to be a live version of the first one. It’s almost the same track, with very little variation. The second track is somewhat more interesting, because it uses a lot of deep sounds. On the surface, the tracks are interchangeable, but with headphones on you hear very deep sounds. This creates some tension, were the first track has none. The tracks feel more like an academic research, than to give the listener a sonic experience. This is again not an impressive release from Cohort Records. Also this record has that very minimal approach in sound and structure, like the other release. Though it is slightly more interesting, it’s still not good enough, I’m sorry to say. Also for the packaging, it seems like the printer run out of ink, so they gave the packaging a lick of yellow paint to make up for it. Nice touch! (Gothtronic)

>Being a fan of (and corresponding with, briefly) venerable experimental music/cassette-culture staples Crawling With Tarts back in the early 90's, I was delighted to receive this new work by CWT's Michael Gendreau. First, the unique and individually hand-made packaging (hand-painted digipack, rubber stamped) was instantly appealing to my tactile senses. And the music/sound within? It's two extended pieces - both based on field recordings made at Les Voutes in Paris, France in 2004. The first variation, 'Voutes', is a raw vibration recording of the arch-shaped vaults under the rue Tolbiac in Paris. It's a lonely sort of sound, sort of hollow and spacious, like little spinning ceramic wheels rolling around in a back room, with the discernible rumble of vehicles overhead. Curious and slightly mysterious in it's abstraction, this piece is somehow relaxing, rather than unsettling or nervous. The second piece is a live manipulation of the previous recording, with added live feeds and mixing. This one is somehow larger, deeper, and more cavernous. It's a heavier and more sonorous invocation of the same spirit. Exceptional, individual, and provocative soundwork that conveys, if nothing else, that there are worlds within the worlds around us. (Goatsden)



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