Alois Richter - Ondes Pures [Bored Bear Recordings - 2012]Bored Bear Recordings presents Ondes Pures(meaning Pure Waves in english ) by minimalist French drone artist Alois Richter. I couldn’t really find much info on this mysterious act other than this is a project by ½ of the HNW outfit The Sandman Wears a Mask. On Ondes Pures, Alois Richter offers 4 “textures” clocking in at around 80 minutes.
The packaging is simple. The cover is a fold over sleeve featuring simple text and a pair of soundwaves on front and back. The CD-r is just plain white. It’s actually quite fitting to the minimalist drone found on this disc.
“Texture 1” sounds very familiar to me. This past summer I spent a few days isolated in a cabin in the woods. Just prior to leaving, a friend of mine introduced me to Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) recording. EVP recordings are unintentional captured sounds (usually voices or repeated phrases) that supposedly validate paranormal phenomena. Anyway, I had this great idea to record in this creepy, empty room in the cabin to see if I could capture some EVP on tape. The result was basically a mass of nothingness. It was an amalgamation of the sounds of negative space and an air conditioner, but all contained within the confines of this small room. “Texture 1” sounds exactly like that (though perhaps with some added gain). It’s not so much a definable sound as it is a “presence.” Of course as a superstitious and paranoid person, it almost becomes more about what you don’t hear than what is actually on the recording. Of course, I never actually heard any spectres or phantoms, but it’s the mere thought of stumbling upon something that creates the tension. I got the same tense, nauseous feeling immersed in “Texture 1.”
I’ve often mused whether it is possible or not to create a sound so intense that that it would immediately induce vomiting upon the listener. While Alois Richter hasn’t quite achieved that feat, there’s something about “Texture 2” that made me feel physically ill. The track is composed of two layers. One layer being a dense low-end hum and second layer being an unchanging, low volume static crackle. Several times throughout this piece I felt compelled to skip it, however I forced myself to endure the nearly 20 minute track. By the way, the deleterious effects the sounds had on my physiology should not be taken as a criticism, but rather, Alois Richter should take them as a badge of honor. After 40 minutes of Textures 1 & 2, I needed a brief respite before continuing on.
After a short break, I continued my masochistic journey into Textures 3 & 4. The 2nd half of the disc actually proceeds very similarly to “Texture 2.” The tracks are basically variations on the structure of the 2nd piece. “Texture 3” again is dual layer of low end hum and static fuzz. The only difference is the hum seems more pronounced and the static is a bit more broken up. “Texture 4” again employs the same formula, but seems more subdued. Whoa… that was long slog.
The 4 tracks actually make quite a bit of sense in their subtle progression when looked at in totality. Each piece builds upon the former, sometimes barely perceptibly, but logically and purposefully.
After 80 minutes, I’m actually not sure I can say I like Ondes Pures. In fact it was quite a difficult journey for me. HNW, after the initial explosion of brutality, melts into ambience and generally puts me in a meditative state. This album has the direct opposite effect. There’s nothing harsh at all about it. It’s quite ambient in fact. Yet the tones Alois Richter creates hits me in all the wrong ways, making this a mentally (and psychically) challenging album to get through. However, despite the physical distress this album wrought upon me, I can’t help but admire the focus and discipline behind the recording. A worthy effort. Hal Harmon