Jean-Luc Guionnet
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Map

¬ Discographie ¬ Improvisations ¬ Saxophone

- Potlach – Paris - France - 2007
improvisation instrumentale — quatuor de saxophones :
Toshimaru Nakamura (no-input mixing board) & Jean-Luc Guionnet (sa & orgue)


Un duo franco-japonais dresse une rassurante carte des ténèbres. Guitariste passé à la musique électronique – défendue derrière une étrange console qu’il appelle « no-input mixing board » – Toshimaru Nakamura est aussi un improvisateur sensible, partenaire remarqué du guitariste Otomo Yoshihide, du saxophoniste John Butcher ou du trompettiste Axel Dörner. Sur MAP, voici qu’il improvise avec un autre souffleur : Jean-Luc Guionnet, saxophoniste français qui aura participé ces derniers temps à quelques enregistrements de taille (Propagations et [On], disques sortis respectivement sur les labels Potlatch et In Situ).
Sur MAP, Nakamura et Guionnet confectionnent sur l’instant une ambient à la subtilité provocante, qui oppose quelques sifflements électroniques aux plaintes haletantes de l’alto avant de prendre une allure plus fragile, qui décide, pour s’en sortir, de multiplier les fulgurances électroacoustiques : grésillements, larsens et bourdons divers contre motifs répétés au saxophone. Ici ou là, des pauses commandent un silence réparateur, avant que l’instinct de vie des deux musiciens ne reprenne le dessus. En conclusion, Guionnet passe à l’orgue, y fourre quelques angoisses bruitistes dans le sillage de Charlemagne Palestine. Au final, une musique électroacoustique dont l’expérimentation est loin d’être hermétique, prenant plutôt les atours charmants d’une ambient dérangée.
Guillaume Belhomme l Volume l Juillet 2008

Chacun de leur côté, Jean-Luc Guionnet et Toshimaru Nakamura sillonnent depuis plusieurs années les terres de l’improvisation électro-acoustique. Leurs trajectoires ont logiquement fini par se croiser et le fruit de leur rencontre voit à présent le jour sur le label Potlatch. A peine formé, le duo nous offre un premier disque tout en subtilité et en tension.
Après Propagations, Jean-Luc Guionnet prolonge ici son mandat chez Potlatch. Dans la continuité de son effort précédent, il explore les bornes du spectre sonore avec son saxophone alto, du souffle granulaire aux ultra-fréquences. Un langage d’une grande sobriété qui se construit avec lenteur et qui laisse beaucoup d’espace à l’expression musicale de son acolyte, Toshimaru Nakamura. Acteur incontournable de la scène électronique minimale, celui-ci se concentre exclusivement sur le traitement du signal généré par sa table de mixage en circuit fermé. Une approche qu’il n’a eu de cesse de peaufiner au gré de partenariats réguliers avec Jason Kahn, Sachiko M ou Keith Rowe. C’est d’ailleurs souvent en duo qu’il se révèle, fort d’une réactivité intuitive vis-à-vis du matériau sonore d’autrui. A cet égard, la combinaison avec Guionnet fonctionne plutôt bien et on note chez les deux une similarité d’approche : immense précaution dans l’initiative et réflexion centrale sur le timbre et la durée.
Le dialogue s’instaure très progressivement au cours des trois premiers titres : apports discrets qui troublent à peine le silence, sifflements électroniques qui se transforment en ruminations organiques, slaps du saxophone faisant écho aux grésillements des circuits, craquements micro-percussifs interrompus par des décharges fulgurantes… Cinquante minutes plus tard, on découvre avec stupeur que tout n’avait pas encore été dit. Pour la pièce finale, JLG passe en effet à la tuyauterie grand format en s’emparant de l’orgue de l’église Sainte-Croix de Parthenay ! Une ampleur de registre que Nakamura parvient magistralement à contrebalancer en ne limitant plus la férocité de ses attaques. A elles seules, ces monumentales 23 dernières minutes rendent ce disque à la fois singulier et essentiel.
Jean-Claude Gevrey l Octopus l Avril 2008

A écouter et réécouter MAP de Jean-Luc Guionnet (as, org) et Toshimaru Nakamura (table de mixage sans entrée), on trouve à satisfaire – comme avec certaines toiles de Debré en grands frottements unis que viennent perturber des concrétions de matière colorée – non seulement son goût pour une certaine raréfaction mais aussi et peut-être davantage son intérêt pour des espaces froissés, chiffonnés, percés d’incroyables trouées ; ces accrocs dans le tissu rendent ce dernier perceptible, font monter les plans sonores les plus divers et basculer les univers vers de nouveaux degrés d’abrasion.
Des duos de Nakamura avec souffleur [dont Butcher ou Capece], celui-ci est certainement le plus « humain » dans certaines de ses extrémités physiques, ce qui peut surprendre dans un échange avec une machine bouclée sur elle-même… mais également le moins « flatteur », car la tentation un peu design que ladite no input mixing board pourrait entraîner est écartée : pas d’épure complaisante dans ces quatre improvisations mais des mappemondes fissurées, des flux chuintants, des traînées électriques refendues, des nodosités de sons empilés, de rauques impacts… Intensité.
Guillaume Tarche l Improjazz l Avril 2008

Toshimaru Nakamura et Jean Luc Guionnet donnent ici un aperçu de ce que l’improvisation peut avoir de plus rigoureux dans la construction et l’écoute d’un projet.
Toshimaru Nakamura sculpte des larsens (avec l’appoint de quelques effets) issus d’une table de mixage bouclée ; Jean Luc Guionnet sans autre secours qu’un microphone joue d’un saxophone alto et d’un orgue sis en l’église de Parthenay. Tout le disque est un dialogue au cordeau entre ces deux lutheries de prime abord opposées : le continuum électrique, les circuits imprimés d’un coté, le souffle, le corps et ses limites de l’autre. Pourtant d’emblée, on est frappé par le jeu en miroir des deux partenaires. La distorsion, les sifflantes de l’alto et les clicks delayés des sorties de Nakamura rivalisent de plasticité, se répondant, tissant un contrepoint où l’homothétie, l’imitation des timbres et du phrasé jouent à plein.
Les parrallélismes sont frappants entre sons courts/sons longs, sons purs/sons sales, sons ténus ou en mur sonique comme dans la plage quatre où l’orgue en plein crescendo noisy est rejoint par le bruit blanc du mixer dans une apothéose quasi symphonique de granulations titanesques et jouissives.
Ici, électricité et acoustique s’avérent redoutablement souples et complémentaires pour répondre aux injonctions d’un signal "exponentiel" d’un coté, borné de l’autre (enfin c’est vrai pour le sax, moins pour l’orgue) et où la sensation épouse son objet. La distance machine-instrument étant ici comblée, l’écoute et la cohérence esthétique font le reste.
Décidément Potlatch choisit avec une rigueur sans faille ses enregistrements.
Boris Wlassof l Revue & Corrigée l Mars 2008

An atuned auditive process : Past and history are collapsing into a burning marker on a shifting timescale.
After some routine has kicked in, writing reviews is really a simple task : You talk about a musician’s personal and professional past and about previous releases for a while, then turn towards a more or less adequate description of the disc at hand to arrive at a classification into the artists general canon of releases. And then an album like Map lands on your desk and suddenly words no longer seem to be capable of doing justice to the music.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the album falling out with tradition or with the performers arriving at a quasi-mythical land of subsonic depth and ultrafrequential altitudes. Granted, melody and chordal transformation even in a less conservative and classical sense are nowhere to be found here and rhythm has only survived as an idea, as an atoll of spontaneous, unpredictable and possibly even unintentional islands of interconnected percussive patterns. But if someone were to come along and call this record a “shining example of electroacoustic experimentation” or “the meeting of two figureheads of the contemporary improvisational scene” no one would feel offended.
The reason is that these terminologies, stripped of their linguistic pathos, are banale. Jean-Luc Guionnet has finely delineated a unique territory for himself in decades of playing in various line-ups and as part of diverse projects. The choice between composition and improvisation is not an idealistic one in his œuvre, it is a living and breathing inspiration, a reason for continous research and personal development : Guionnet is not merely deciding against or in favour of either of the two, but regards them as poles of a circular continuum, on whose soft moebius strip he moves gracefully and with utmost precision. Categorising him as an “improvisor” is not wrong – but neglects the finely nuanced shadings which the word is awarded through the intricacies of his playing.
Toshimaru Nakamura, meanwhile, has refined his style to such a degree that stereotypically supplied background information on the “No Input Mixing Board” (the technical setup he has become famous for) has given way to a more detailed appreciation of it as an instrument in its own right. His performance on Map indicates that he doesn’t care for proving his capacity in drawing recognisable stuctures from it, like a sorcerer conjuring rabbits from an empty hat, but that his real interest lies in using it to create fluidely emotive expressions. The importance of his work lies less in the quality of the sounds he produces, but in the completely intuitive way of arriving at them.
The backcatalogue of both artists reveals the immense importance of an atuned auditive process for the appreciation of their music on the part of the audience, as well as for themselves as performers. Maybe it is this increased awareness, this hyper-sensitivity to each single sound they produce, to the way it is capable of influencing the music’s direction and its context, which makes them listen so attentively to the other on Map. The fusion of Alto-Saxophone with electronic hiss, crackle and distortion, despite occasional outbursts and disturbing high-pitch screams, sounds completely organic and carefully balanced here.
The aforementioned level of proficiency in using their instrument of choice is one part of the equation : Guionnet produces smooth continous tones, smacking and plopping sounds, metallic attacks, short themes in overblown harmonics, teakettle- and steamtrain imitations, rhythmically undulating insect buzzes and diaphanous, duophonic intervals with a warm breath. Nakamura counters these impulses with granular gravling, delicate microtonal dissections, bleeps, burps and bumps, fidgety fizzling and abrasive nervousness, or actively pushes things to a climax by tightening the density of his musical events.
On other occasions, a grounding of nothing but finely hissing white noise feels like an open invitation to his partner of going where he pleases – which Guionnet amicably answers with discreet, silent horn tones, caressing the surface and forming a cohesive new texture.
The three opening improvisations, recorded on a single day in Montreuil are timbrally condensed and feel very much of one-piece, each new track offering glimpses at different formulations of the same idea. The concluding, 23-minute long piece, realised roughly two months later, however, additionally features Guionnet on Organ, delivering imposing clusters and sustained bass tones, injecting the already highly charged encounter with a vortex-like spatial depth, brimming with tactile aggression and continuing the energetic eagerness of the opening bars. In the outstretched middle-section, meanwhile, the undulating registers lend a mysterious, mythical feel to the music, which sways from the adrenalin-soaked to the ethereally cleansed, discharging itself in exchanges of industrial intensity and flowing towards a whisperd conclusion.
As initially stated, what makes this encounter special is not so much its radical revolutionary stance. Rather, the music suggests a potentially infinite source of exploration. Guionnet and Nakamura are so interested in what their counterpart has to say, that every second of music they produce needs to be appreciated without reference to what preceeded and followed it. Past and history are collapsing into a burning marker on a shifting timescale – I suppose this is what is meant by “being in the moment”. Words can of course still rationally describe what is happening here, but they can no longer act as a bridge : If you want to know what Map is about, you really need to listen to it.
Tobias Fischer l Tokafi l July 2008

Over the past ten years, Toshimaru Nakamura has crafted a distinctive approach to his particularly self-abnegating instrument, the no-input mixing board, and thrown himself into just about any improvising context you could imagine. Here with French saxophonist Jean-Luc Guionnet (on alto and, on the final track, organ), Nakamura once again polishes brilliant sculptures whose invisible contours glint and flash with hidden sunlight. The fulsome droning sections are broken up by croaks, sputters, and alien transmissions from the hive mind, all as likely to come from Nakamura as from Guionne’s gruff horn (though the latter plays with choppy aggression to open the third piece). There are moments when Nakamura turns up the heat more than one is accustomed to hearing, almost as if he’s cajoling Guionnet to all the way into a granular world of burrs and hisses. But what I enjoy so much about this recording is that Guionnet doesn’t step off the ledge. Rather, he continually peers over it, playing into what lies below, sounding out shapes in the nothingness, but nonetheless opting to flirt with the tensions of this position (maybe most provocatively on the second piece). Each musician gooses the other, then, in four lively improvisations, the last of which finds Guionnet summoning mad sounds from the organ and Nakamura joining in as if some dark ritual is underway.
Jason Bivins l Signal To Noise l June 2008

There’s little equilibrium to disrupt on Map, a testy, sometimes openly fractious duo with the always rewarding Nakamura, on trademark no-input mixing board. He and Guionnet exploit their instruments’ inherent contrast in pitch and timbre to generate palpable tension, disrupting moments of relative calm with cleverly awkward switches in direction. The noisly outré final track, with Guionnet on church organ in flamboyant mood, provides an appriopriately abstruse conclusion. This is risk-taking improvising, whose shaking off of genre shackles illustrates how conservative and idiomatic much recent electroacoustic Improv has become.
Nick Cain l The Wire l May 2008

When Toshimara Nakamura first unplugged his guitar from his mixing board, jacked the board’s output into its input, and started playing the resulting feedback, he metaphorically threw his musical map out the window.
He’s been defying ruled boundaries ever since. While he’s proven his mastery of the instrument by shaping electronically generated resonance into placid expanses, banging loops and filament-thin lances in the company of such diversely motivated improvisers as Keith Rowe, Jason Kahn, Gene Coleman, and Axel Dörner, even his own past playing is an uncertain predictor of what he’ll coax out of his no-input mixing board. In general his playing has become more austere, and such is the case on Map, but even so his playing doesn’t sound much like anything else I’ve heard him do.
Map is a set of four duets with Frenchman Jean-Luc Guionnet, a saxophone and organ player who tends to gravitate towards electronic contexts, albeit ones with methodologies which range from laminal (Hubbub) to concrete (Phéromone). Although he plays alto, the player of whom he’s most reminiscent is soprano and tenor saxophonist John Butcher. Like Butcher, he’s taken modern classical and early electronic sounds and forms into the realm of instant creation. And like Butcher, he’s mastered a broad range of utterances that fall outside what you’re supposed to play on a sax. However, he’s more reticent, less prone to melody and density, more towards lean severity.
On the three unnamed pieces he and Nakamura recorded in Montreuil, he sticks to the saxophone and punches out high twitters and long, attenuated tones that seem to thin and flake like sheet metal thrust heavily against a grindstone. Nakamura’s contributions gather mass and presence, moving from sparse pops to purposeful rattles to a big blank wall of hiss. Neither man makes any concessions to prettiness ; the music binds an enormous and thrilling tension. Even at its emptiest, it is full of suspense ; when it’s full on, it’s an impressive array of textures that morph and melt from one to the next with obscure yet impeccable logic.
The last piece, recorded at Collegiale Sainte-Croix in Parthenay, wrings drama from a couple drastic switches. Guionnet swaps his saxophone for a church organ, which he uses to place clusters like swollen sasquatch footprints across the chill soundscape. Nakamura inverts the relationship between the volume the instruments output and the space they displace ; his portable black box sounds much more massive than Guionnet’s stationary keyboard, and certainly more forceful than anything I’ve heard him do since the first Repeat album. He erects fuzzy screens of static that strive to block Guionnet’s creeping chords, only to have the Frenchman flank them or simply slink slowly under their flickering screens. Unphased, Nakamura lets loose with a blizzard of dancing, but still pitiless noise. The organ retreats, only to creep back as soon as Nakamura’s attack splinters. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before – how often can you say that nowadays ?
Bill Meyer l Dusted l March 2008

... may we propose Map by Jean-Luc Guionnet and Toshimaru Nakamura. On these four long and quiet pieces recorded at Montreuil and elsewhere, the Japanese emperor of hissing feedback uncoils himself like a gigantic snake while the French improviser clucks like an anguished chicken with his alto sax. The duo purr like contented white tigers on the third track, but wait till you hear the troubled and dark chords that Jean-Luc summons forth from his organ on track four. Taut and nervy improv at its leanest, this CD is a mean little beast !
Ed Pinsent l The Sound Projector l February 2008

The first three tracks on Map were recorded just over a month later back in Paris, with another post-onkyo Japanese grandmaster, Toshimaru Nakamura on his customary no input mixing board. Nakamura’s more abrasive sound world – he’s come a long way since the almost danceable loops and pulses of a decade ago – pushes Guionnet further out into the world of so-called extended technique, which he’s always been familiar with but has studiously avoided exploiting for its own sake, and the tension is palpable throughout. In addition to the alto sax, the Guionnet discography has on a number of occasions (Pentes, Tirets, Sion) explored the outer reaches of the venerable pipe organ, and the final track on Map finds him in the organ loft of a church in Parthenay, trading spine-chilling blasts of clusters with vicious screes of noise from Nakamura. Anyone who believes latter-day EAI lacks excitement and danger should be strapped down and forced to listen to this on repeat play for the rest of the year.
Dan Warburton l Bagatellen l March 2008

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