RYOKO AKAMA, BRUNO DUPLANT
Review by Patrick Farmer
I went outside to record any birds today, coal tits, as it turns out, not something I often do, with a tape player. I rarely want to write about what I’m listening to directly. I want to write about what listening makes me think. Not just about what I’m listening to, but about listening, which could be anything.
I’m typing this paragraph last, the disc has finished, and George Perec’s novel, Life a User’s Manual, is lying open to my right, next to the loudspeaker – moments ago a page fluttered against the cone. The scores that are part of this release, four in all, are all over the place. My left speaker is upright. Perec’s architecturally small book, Species of Spaces, from which Akama and Duplant’s scores are farmed, is propped open at page 60. On page 60 Perec includes a quote from his friend, and fellow member of OuLiPo, Raymond Queneau. The roofs of Paris, lying on their backs, with their little paws in the air. I don’t know, it seemed apt.
This release has given me a lot of joy, it tickles. I laugh happily when considering the four pieces included in «Espèces d’espaces» as one, not one piece you understand, but one act. I’ve spent time with them in whatever permutation best suits at the time. This produces a wooden hose that runs through the object in equal measure, and does not kink, because it can’t.
As interesting as the recordings are on this disc, and they really are wonderful, I’ve spent most of my time playing with the scores themselves. Gingerly curious about any correlation I might find between what I’m listening to and what I’m seeing. I don’t think it necessary to find a correlation you understand, not on any level, but I thought it’d be fun, which seems very much in keeping with the release.
I’ve listened to this CD a number of times, not as much as the CD deserves I should add, just like I have gone back over Perec’s Species of Spaces – which is always a pleasure, and always teaches me something when I’m least expecting it. Perec’s words are full of other light words, some of which are almost transparent. I can’t read French well enough to experience him in the original, so I realise what I say is tenuous and somewhat low.
Perec was, by all accounts, a materialist, not in the philosophical sense of the word, but linguistically. He considered language raw material, to be shaped, and worked on, as something that could be remodeled time and time again. The surfaces of his objects were almost always simple, but the layers that were affected underneath retained a highly sophisticated degree of awareness and intelligence. I’ve thought, like I’m thinking now, that this consideration has had some bearing on my treatment of this release as a whole, rather than a part. I tried listening to the first piece, or the third, etc., in isolation, but it felt confusing. Like I was standing on a map and couldn’t see below my nose. I could hear it, but not see it, and there’s so much to see here. I feel that this whole thing is a pattern, not, a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other, rather one in which no single existence, listening experience, or visual experience, precedes that of the other.
I put all the jigsaw pieces that come with this release, jigsaw pieces that when assembled constitute a score, or a reaction, I’m never sure, by Duplant, on the cone of the left loudspeaker. As I played the recording of «Espèces d’espaces» 01, it was, as Perec says, the double crosses, that held tight. During playback of the other three recordings, it was, exclusively, the little chaps, that enjoyed vibrating the most. With their little paws in the air.
Written on the inlay of my copy of Perec’s, Life a User’s Manual, a work whose structure, like a large number of globes stacked against a window, denotes a different reading depending on the angle of approach, it says:
Eileen & Ian
Merry Christmas ’93
With loads of love
Brian + Sylvie
Truth be told. I wanted to transport my CD player, amplifier, speakers, speaker wire, etc, to every room of the house, affording me the opportunity to be literal. I like how white noise sounds on reflective tile.
[Ryoko Akama, Bruno Duplant]