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CD Feature/ Eric la Casa: "air.ratio"

img  Tobias

After reading the liner notes, there will certainly be a lot of people criticising “air.ratio” for being a mere bunch of recordings without compositional value. Actually, Eric la Casa himself is the first to mention it: “This CD is intended to be an object without distinctive function”. On the other hand, great art has more than once benefited from ambiguity and the creative input of the listener – and this album certainly does a great job at uncovering structures of beauty where there seemed to be nothing but functionality.

Besides, a great concept can take you far, but it is the moment, when an idea turns into sound that its relevance is determined. La Casa was lying in a bathtub, somewhere, looking up at the ceiling and listening to the air vent stubornly working above him. In the heat of the waves engulfing him and the “dusty environment” of the room, this subliminal sensation suddenly took on a meaning far away from its intended purpose – it turned into music. Fascinated by this, the composer recorded the event and discovered a new area of interest – “the air flow in modern architecture”. Six years later, he started the project which would lead to “air.ratio” and wandered into a host of buildings in Paris with the aim of documenting their vents, occasionaly asking for permission, occasionaly taping at his own convenience. Naturally, there were two apects to this endeavour, a quasi-scientific one (in the sense of choosing a representative mix of locations and of focussing on certain sonic qualities) and a musical one (by subjecting them to an emotive listening process afterwards), but none of the two claimed exclusiveness – this was a personal mission and if it satisfied his subjective curiosity, Eric would change the parameters of the experiment by e.g. allowing in noises of the ventilation’s surroundings. A total of thirty extracts have made it to the finished CD, each of them exactly two minutes long and fluently flowing into the next. The result is a long, continous drone, which, on the surface, changes its timbre in fixed intervals and emanates an ambiance of wideness, spaciousness and concentrated intensity. On a deeper examination, the facets and rich details become visible and one can’t help but marvel at the ever-different characteristics of the individual shafts: The aggressive corridor of the Eurpean Hospital Georges Pompidou, the darkly whistling winter winds of the Institute Pasteur or the galactically majestic dignity of the “Radio France” toilet.

To answer the critics’ remarks: If you didn’t know about the way this was produced, it would not take anything away from these howling, screaming, whispering, singing, threatening and comforting miniatures. And the omnipresence of the objects under scrutiny means that you can now go out and discover those black holes of sound for yourself. “Air.ratio” is an exciting experiment, an excursion to the borders of sound and an extraordinary album – who cares, if it needs to be labelled as “music” or not?

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Eric La Casa
Homepage: Sirr Ecords

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