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CD Feature/ Eric La Casa: "Les Oscillations Part 1-2"

img  Tobias

Sound-wise, this must be one of the most impressive albums I’ve ever heard. It starts with a sheet of white noise, which gradually morphs into a powerful rainstorm, its torrents of water realised so threedimensionally as if they were pouring down right into your living room. At later stages, the sharp, edgey sounds really seem to leave stings in your body and the environmental tapings of scraping metal envelope you like a 5.1. recording. Eric La Casa is not just a  field recorder and his work is not just musique concrete: His inspiration derives from a child-like, naive and emotionally filtered view of his immediate surroundings – and his fields are the winding paths of the right brain half.

Concept-wise, “Les Oscillations” is definitely a cunning experiment. Just as much as La Casa feels his way forward in his puissant compositional manner, his actions are always guided by highly analytical train of thought aimed at sharpening our ears and led on by a insatiable curiosity for finding out more about his own sensory system. The idea to this CD consists of a simple proposition: That our perception of sound can never be seperated from this sound’s context. In order to prove his assumption, La Casa has used a pool of recordings realised over the lengthy period of eight years (between 1995 and 2003). The structure of the second piece is determined by the arrangement of the first one in the following manner:

What was:
1-a
1-b
1-c
1-d
...
1-z

Will turn into:
2-z
2-y
2-x
2-w
...
2-a

The source material for both tracks is thus completely identical (if one forgets about slight variations of the order for artistic reasons), with only the order of things reversed. This enabes a perfect testing ground for the question at hand and many adjacent issues – in how much compiling sounds and arranging them in the studio constitutes a musical act, for example. The result speaks for itself: While the opening half of the album overwhelms the listener like a force of nature and then fades into a quiet space of concentrated minimalism, the second piece keeps the tension lingering for much longer, its parts sustaining each other and keeping the momentum. And no matter how hard you try, you can not force your brain to regard each sound on its own or to even disentangle it from its surroundings. Its effect is determined by what proceeds and what follows it – and in what kind of combinations it occurs.

Does this matter? I would say it does in many important ways. First of all, it implies that the acoustic world around us provides for neverending and always fresh listening sensations. Not a single moment can be repeated, as the variables are caught in an infinite circle dance. And then there is another matter: If everything we perceive is made up of myriads of individual  events, does our mental image of “listening” as a unified process do reality justice? Or is our ear instinctively branding and classifying these events? More questions than answers, therefore, but rewarding ones for sure.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Eric La Casa

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