Francisco Meirino - Anthems For Unsuccessful Winners
MAIANDROS with Antoine Chessex & Jérôme Noetinger
Antoine Chessex, Francisco Meirino, Jérôme Noetinger
LP - Editions Cave 12 - C12 A 08,
released April 24, 2022
Side A : « Cocyte & Phlégéthon » 19:50
Side B : « Tunnel » 17:20
Testimony to the first encounter of the trio during a concert given at the cave12 on the 28.10.2020, on the same evening of the new Covid announcements which brought on a re-confinement in France, and eve to a six-month long shutdown of cultural places in Switzerland. A concert from which we emerged staggering and with burning ears due to the ongoing crisis surrounding us. A masterful sonic performance. Before silence.
Drawing from the dense and intense sound material of the evening, Francisco Meirino carried out a work of mixing and cutting, thus releasing an account of it, conceived for vinyl support and domestic use, an auditory result with a fascinating tension/frame.
Swirling field recordings, urban/mechanical sounds, ghostly radio, cannibal revoxian magnetic tape, unrecognizable saxophone chants from hell, synthesizer manipulations, intermingle and merge into a sonic flow of pure permanent tension. An uncompromising and hallucinating sound journey of the very first order. A captivating back-and-forth, rich and spiralling between different levels of listening, filled with recognizable or unrecognizable sound materials and disturbing textures à la perfectly mastered dynamics, on a knife edge of abyss & time. And with, on the album, a simply gargantuan, corrosive, and overwhelming B-side!
Antoine Chessex: Tenor saxophone, amplifier, electronics
Francisco Meirino: Modular synthesizer, contact microphone and transducer
Jérôme Noetinger: Revox B77, electronics
Live recording on 28.10.2020 at cave12
Sound engineering: Benjamin Ephise
Editing and mastering: Francisco Meirino
Cut: Frédéric Alstadt at Studio Angström
Cover design: Xavier Robel + David Mamie
Maiandros, eloquently described as a “masterful sonic performance before silence” by the liners, should be approached with a cool head and, most crucially, finely tuned nervous system in order to gauge its effectiveness. Dare we say brutal effectiveness in this situation. It was recorded on October 28, 2020, on the eve of one of the numerous Covid-enforced closing periods, in a way symbolizing the need to communicate the mute anguish experienced by too many people during the last three years, while also reminding that we (still) have a chance to express ourselves.
With Jérôme Noetinger‘s Revoxes adding grotesque musique-concrete shades and subhuman deformations to the synthetic and intelligently noisy emanations of Francisco Meirino, who later structured in the studio the raw material obtained from the live set, the trio’s electroacoustic apparatus has obvious analog inclinations, efficiently enhanced by field recordings and radio revenants. This is demonstrated on “Cocyte & Phlégéthon” with sound elements between colloidal and rebellious, but not really rabid. Antoine Chessex‘s processed sax and electronics soar down out and into the mix, literally forming chemtrails of ill drones among the confusion of bizarre overlays and alterations.
The composition on the second side of the LP, aptly titled “Tunnel,” involuntarily portrays, quite explicitly, the collection of unsettling feelings supplied by modern existence. The usage of misshapen voices is complemented by a larger degree of distortion inside the sound mass’s monolithic appearance, rather insistent in its cyclicality. We can distinguish bloodcurdling screams in the midst of an oppressive mixture, along with whips (at least, that’s what I think they are), and other hues that don’t necessarily suggest blue skies of hope. In the end, the horrible dream is instantly destroyed by stillness. However, one is well aware that there will be plenty more.
Maiandros is a testimony, refined and distilled in retrospect, to the meeting of three great personalities of the European impro-noise scene. The lintel of the trio, also from the post-productive and exquisitely technical point of view, is Francisco Meirino, musician, sound designer, electro-acoustic "thinker" of Swiss origin. Alongside him we find Jérôme Noetinger, French shaman of magnetic tape, active for decades and promulgator of a certain oblique use of the Revox reel-to-reel recorder (a use shared by Valerio Tricoli, Sec_ and others) and Antoine Chessex, a multifaceted artist, also Swiss, who moves on the borderline between noise, deconstruction, drone, sound art and sound politics, here as an "extended" saxophonist.
The record consists of two distinct parts, both physically and aesthetically, and is derived, as mentioned above, from raw sound material from a live performance held in October 2020 at cave12 (physical venue and record label) in Geneva. "Cocyte & Phlegethon" is a fine amalgamation of diverse sonic contributions, often difficult to attribute to one protagonist rather than the other. Pulsating synthesizer landscapes mingle with the distant voices of an urban setting, then rarefy and give way to light percussive saxophone vocalizations. It is in this constant change that emerges, on the one hand, the technical and aesthetic competence of Meirino, a wise composer capable of enhancing certain passages, specific frequencies; on the other hand, the ghost of the epiphany of improvisation, intangible, unattainable as posthumous listeners, but certainly present. This is a crucial point that Maiandros allows us to explore: the radicality of the improvised act is such in the moment it is experienced synchronously. When the listening is asynchronous, dilated in time, perhaps fragmented into multiple moments, the communion of ritual dissolves to give way to the communicative skill of the medium, of the witness. Needless to say, how both sides of this work are effective in giving us a snapshot of a moment (perhaps) not experienced.
"Tunnel," side B of the disc, takes this whole dynamic to extremes, catapulting us violently into the wall of sound evoked at cave12. The fine aesthetic choices of side A are brutally annihilated. There is only room for acid feedback, vocals that become saxophone cries, ripped and tortured tapes, telluric vibrations at the limits of the audible. To be listened to at a suitable volume to magnify the experience.
Finally, the choice of name is not surprising: Maiandros is the Greek deity regulator of rivers, of flow and, why not, also of that "stream" so much sought after by those who throw themselves into the eternal present of improvisation, where nothing is static, everything in a perpetual balance beyond the reach of language and logic.
There is no denying that such an unstructured narrative of these forty minutes of sound can be hostile or disorienting. However, when the ear overcomes the need for synthesis, for classification, and embraces the whole picture, that is where the urgency of the act emerges, so pervasive, so all-encompassing.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Order and chaos. These two opposing organizing principles do much to characterize what awaits listeners on either side of Maiandros, a heavily cut-up recording of a live concert given just before the outset of the pandemic in 2020. The idea of mixing field recordings and live documents together was occasioned by the lack of “real” concerts and events cancelled throughout the world, and the results move very left of the double genres that make up Maiandros: free jazz and electronic improvisation. Staggering correspondences are achieved between the frequencies emitted by acoustic instrumentation and their electric doubles – synthesizers and reel-to-reel tape machines.
The moods are also entirely antithetical to one another. On B side of the record, “Tunnel,” there is a low drone that haunts the peripatetic movements of tone and bodies. On side A, the reverse is true, a collage of random blurts, and the distinct sound of someone walking, perhaps offstage?. On both tracks, there is a distant, empty nexus of spaces, an absence both actual and virtual, around which chatter and carefully-edited sources converge, neither, in the end, holding sway. Real-time experience, its gentle sweep of situated listening, is the product of this release, more grounded and measured than any place in the world right now.
Fans of both free improvisation and deep listening will rejoice in the miasmic fog of reality; not the one we so often refer to, but on the reel of the phonograph. Very highly recommended!. To find out more drop in here