Territoire - Étude de la profondeur [ Humo Internacional - 2021]
Étude de la profondeur (''Study of Depth'') is the third album from Territoire, a project of French composer Olivier Arsonm, and it is released on the Humo Internacional label- as either a CD or LP.
The album was recorded in an isolated area of Iceland, though it doesn't feature any field recordings. Instead, Arson has decided to improvise with a Max Granulator designed by Robert Henke of German electronic Monolake. He then composed from these elements a sound that charts the fall of an object into the depths (hence the ''profondeur'' of the title). The music evokes the different layers that the object has to go through until it reaches its final destination and the transformations it undergoes in the process.
The titular first track begins with electrical sounds that quickly get processed into semi-melodic segments, not unlike what Merzbow has been doing in the last few years, only much more stripped-down. The sounds progressively get richer, with more bass in the mix: there is a rumbling and another layer of pitched-down electrical sound. This segment of the composition is very impressive, as it gives a dramatic sense of speed and even without reading about the concept beforehand it conveys the idea of a large object falling down. A break takes place around the 9'30'' minute mark after which the sheets of sound give way to meandering noises, like someone searching for his way in the dark, while the distant rumbling bass goes on, evoking some type of life deep at the centre of earth. All in all, this is a very evocative track that again fits the concept completely.
The second track, ''Alliage'' (''Compound'') presents more lyrical and rhythmical sounds. The beginning of the track is decidedly tonal, like Dark Ambient with ominous washes of synthesizer. The sheets of sound of the first track return at some point but soon the rythmical aspect increases as if the falling object had reached the bottom and had started to dig its way even deeper. The end of the track reunites with the first one with smaller sounds that recede in the darkness.
All in all, Etude de la Profondeur is an extraordinary album. It is not often that one manages to illustrate such an original concept using only the most abstract sounds. It is not surprising that these recordings were made in isolation, as they recall the image of an artist left alone with his gear, at grips with the concept he absolutely wants and needs to bring to life. To pick up a copy head here