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BERNARD PARMEGIANI- Chants magnétiques
Fractal 180 (CD)

Fractal 028 (CD)


> Chants magnétiques
Brainwashed - - 22 April 2007 (USA)

Bernard Parmegiani’s fascinating, long out-of-print album finally gets its much-deserved release on CD. Originally released in 1974, this recording is as dark, unsettling, and alluring as anything being released today
As far as mentorship goes, studying under Pierre Schaeffer himself at GRM has to be one of the highest pedigrees possible. Even so, such situations can sometimes produce little more than clones of the master. Thankfully, that's not the case here.
There's a paranoiac strain running through Chants Magnetiques. Patterns rev frenetically to high speeds only to unexpectedly crash and burn. Metallic clangs lumber from the darkness to disrupt the progress of everything that's transpired previously. Dire beeps accelerate into emergency warnings, and swelling, amplified squeaks threaten to suffocate the eardrums. The haze and hum of machinery, echoing plunks, eerie drones, and howling winds permeate many of the tracks.
Even so, not every track is so somber. "Ondes," for instance, sounds like several loops of space transmissions, a vaguely promising if not optimistic minimalist exploration that wouldn't be out of place alongside A Rainbow in Curved Air. Elsewhere, beats and pulses add a vague structure. In particular, "Energy" has several competing layers of rhythm that make it the album's longest track and its most complex. In contrast, the album's simplest and most chilling song is "Pulsion," in which a deep pulse provides the foundation for icy feedback drones.
For the most part, little on this album shows its age. Although the technology has advanced considerably since its original release, the most important element of Parmegiani's work isn’t the tools he uses but to what effect he uses them. At times nightmarish and claustrophobic, the sounds on this album produce both anxiety and wonder in ideal proportions.
Matthew Amundsen.

> Chants magnétiques
Dusted Magazine – – Apr. 6, 2007 (USA)

Of the many disciples of musique concrète pioneer Pierre Schaefer, few – including such vaunted figures as Pierre Henry and Luc Ferrari – have created music as immediately accessible and enduringly satisfying as that of Bernard Parmegiani. His pieces can be both endearingly over-the-top in their conceptual ambitiousness and utterly exquisite in their technical execution. It’s not surprising then that he’s also the member of the INA-GRM camp who is most often cited by younger experimentalists like Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Sonic Youth as a major influence. In recent years there has been a veritable (and very welcome) avalanche of Parmegiani releases, ranging from impressive new records (such as last year's "Immer/Sound" split EP with Australian sound artist Philip Samartzis) to CD reissues of classic works from the 1960s and ’70s in cup-runneth-over proportions. The majority of the reissues have been published on INA-GRM and featured relatively well-known Parmegiani epics, such as the utterly essential De Natura Sonorum and Violostries, but there have also been a few non-canonical surprises along the way.
Chants Magnétiques (not to be confused with the much later Jean-Michel Jarre record of the same name) is a reissue of a long out-of-print 1974 rarity. This is the second Parmegiani record published by the French label Fractal, which is best known for releasing Japanese psych-noise freakouts by bands like Acid Mothers Temple and Mainliner. Three years back, Fractal released an enjoyable, if ultimately light-weight album by Parmegiani titled JazzEx, which collected four of his jazz-meets-tape-music vignettes from the late ’60s and early ’70s. But Chants Magnétiques is a rather different, less fluffy, acousmatic animal. The title translates as "Magnetic Songs," but it is also a play on the French homophones "chant" (meaning "song") and "champ" (meaning "field").
Yet, in spite of its name, the nine "songs" on Chants Magnétiques are no catchy Parmegiani pop ditties. Bereft of traditional melody and utterly lacking in verse-chorus structure, each is a dystopic, electro-acoustic mood piece. The breadth and detail of sounds is amazing with anxious, quavering tones, metallic clangs and burps, synapse-rattling buzzing, and spectral organ drones. Pieces, such as the wonderful organ meander "Ondes" and the ominous, skin-crawling "Pulsion," find Parmegiani at his most dark and hallucinogenic.
Lest the prospect of psychedelic musique concrète conjure nightmarish auditory images of that blighted collaboration between Pierre Henry and Spooky Tooth, have no fear. While Chants Magnétiques is not top-tier Parmegiani – look for De Natura Sonorum or La Creation du Monde if you really want to scale the heights – it's still a pretty wonderful record, and one that reveals an unfamiliar facet of an old master.
Susanna BOLLE.

> Chants magnétiques
DE:BUG Magazin ( ) April 2007 (Deutschland)

Bereits 22 Jahre haben diese raren Tape-Kompositionen des französischen Akusmatikers auf dem Buckel (einst Kollege von Xenakis, Henry und Ferrari im INA-GRM Studio). Es handelt sich keinesfalls um schnell geschluckte Musik. Die Geräusche entfalten sich nach Parmegiani parallel und im Gegenüber des konkreten oder hyperkonkreten Kopfkinos. Beide bedingen sich und können einander erhellen, natürlich überwiegt beim Musiker die Hingabe zum Ohr, speziell zum sehenden Ohr, das neben dem hörenden Auge, den Zugang zu diesem schwierigen, verknoteten Werk erleichtern kann. Metallisch und paranoid schwingende Verschiebungen und post-pataphysische Metamorphosen, gewunden und in Vibration gehalten von glasklaren, auf den Punkt gebrachten Geräusch-Ereignissen. Komplex gewölbte Strukturen erscheinen, lassen ihre Energie ab, verstummen. Todd Dockstader, Hecker und Farmers Manual kommen in den Sinn, aber auch die Raumverschiebungen vom Hafler Trio und die sich nach Außen abkehrenden Synthstrukturen von Peter Christopherson werden vorweg genommen. Endlos spannend, saugut.

> Chants magnétiques
Aquarius Records - List #260 - 02nd March 2007 / USA

Had Fractal not dusted off this gem of French electronic composition, there's a good chance this disc might have found its way back into circulation through elusive Icelandic cd-r label Creel Pone. Bernard Parmegiani was one of the many composers who cut their teeth at the highly influential INA-GRM studio / label / laboratory of sound, alongside the likes of Pierre Henry, Luc Ferrari, and Xenakis. Favoring an acousmatic strategy that reveals sound in a manner that sublimates its origins, Parmegiani is best known for his grandiose La Creation Du Monde whereby the composer attempts to address the sound that predates the Big Bang, as well as its polyphonous explosion through a constantly spiralling thrum of electronic vibration. Chants Magnetiques (which translates as Magnetic Fields, and Fractal is quick to point out that this album precedes the Jean Michel Jarre album of the same name by several years) is easily the darkest album in Parmegiani's body of work; and perhaps, the paranoiac qualities of Chants Magnetiques were the reason for its obscure status for so long. The opening round of erratic electric squiggles slides into a languid drone of sustained strings, whilst a robotic hammering strikes against what sounds like springloaded doors. Occasionally chipper but usually damaged electronic percolations and atonal blasts of prog organs intermingle with sheet metal cacophony and convulsive buzzings, only to sulk into subterranean layers of sound haunted by mad scientist chords on the organ and spooky atmospherics that never sound cheesy in spite of the references. The entire composition is executed with an incredible precision and complexity, easily positioning itself as a clear influence upon the later work of Autechre. One not to miss.

> Chants magnétiques
SONHORS website ( ) 13 Mars 2007 / France

Spécialisé dans les musiques expérimentales psychédélico-jazzeuses essentiellement japonaises, Fractal Records offre à son catalogue un bien bel opus de musique électroacoustique. En 1974, cet album est pressé par le label d'illustration musicale PSI / Sonimage, et par conséquent n'est diffusé qu'auprès des professionnels de l'audiovisuel. Remastérisé à partir des bandes originales, "Chants magnétiques" de Bernard Parmegiani sort enfin de l'ombre en 2007, grâce à cette toute première réédition CD, gratifiée de la pochette de couverture originale, avec (s'il vous plait) : une bouteille de vin, un camembert et un magnétophone à bandes ! Peu connu et pratiquement occulté de toute biographie de l'artiste, ce disque pourtant d'une beauté insolante, peut enfin tenir dignement sa place, à côté d'une oeuvre phare enregistrée un an plus tard : "De Natura Sonorum".
Au travers de ces 9 courtes pièces pour l'image d'une modernité et d'une plasticité étonnante, Bernard Parmegiani nous propose une démonstration de son talent, une écoute multidirectionnelle qui finit par évoluer vers un véritable cabinet de curiosités sonores où il use et abuse des diverses techniques du montage, mise en boucle, inversion, transposition, échantillonnage, compression, écho, filtrage, mixage, accumulation... Cette année, Bernard Parmegiani fête ses 80 ans et ses pièces nous convient inévitablement à regarder l'oeuvre tout entier de ce personnage iconoclaste et légendaire de la nébuleuse électroacoustique. D'abord ingénieur du son à la radio et à la télévision, c'est sur les incitations et encouragements de Pierre Schaeffer himself, qu'il intègrera le GRM en 1960. Parmegiani cristallise à lui seul toute l’évolution de la musique concrète, de l’âge artisanal jusqu’à l'âge numérique. Depuis 1979, Bernard Parmegiani travaille avec l'informatique. Cité comme référence par bon nombre d'artistes les plus innovants de l'IDM (Intelligent dance music), il figurait même dans la programmation du festival All Tomorrow’s Parties (avril 2003), sur invitation d'Autechre !
Virtuose de la composition sur bande, Bernard Parmegiani produit une "musique génératrice d’images mentales qui ouvre à l’auditeur les portes menant à son propre cinéma intérieur".

> Chants magnétiques
OTHER MUSIC website - 15 March 2007 / USA

It's frustrating that the monstrous oeuvre of French electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani continually flits in and out of print on the INA-GRM imprint, considering his thorny and organic works inform much of 21st century music, from Autechre and Aphex Twin to Mego folks and Black Dice. That said, French imprint Fractal continues to unearth wholly unknown works from the man. Their Jazzex disc from a decade ago showcased an entirely new side to the man, one seemingly indebted to Frank Zappa, while their latest, Chants Magnetiques, is of a piece with his indisputable masterpieces "Da Natura Sonorum" and "Le Chant du Monde." Exceedingly scarce and basically unknown to our ears until now, this rare work of tape music is one dark and tumultous electroacoustic journey. These 10 untitled tracks put the man back on top of a heap of folks like MEV, Dockstader, Schnitzler, Edgar Varese, and Nurse with Wound. [AB]

> Chants magnétiques
Electroscopie ( ) - 26 fevrier 2007 - France

Réédition cd d'un lp introuvable, paru en 1974 et remastérisé pour l'occasion par Bernard Parmegiani lui même.
Il s'agit en fait de courtes pièces écrites pour l'image, sans que la notice très succincte nous en dise plus long. Bernard Parmegiani nous donne quelques idées et quelques pistes sur ses intentions, mais peu importe, même si la présentation est relativement pauvre, le contenu lui, est riche. Riche de sons, de jubilation, d'insouciance. Non, on n'est pas dans le registre de l'académisme griffé "Grm", mais quelque part entre Riley et Tangerine Dream. Avec sa palette sonore désormais familière, ses tours et détours, son "jeu" séquencé, son lyrisme coloré, Parmegiani nous conduit dans un univers humain et rassurant. Ici, point de vertiges spatiaux, d'envolées en aller simple vers Andromede, de psychédélisme en chambre artificielle, non, rien que le son pour le son, la poésie comme carte sonore, le continent à atteindre étant le plaisir, tout simplement (mais attention, certaines pièces sont hypnotiques, mais l'effet s'estompe vite, car Parmegiani fait varier les états sonores rapidement. Une séquence durera 1 heure avec Riley, 1 minute avec BP!)... simplicité même dans les moyens, on le devine : pas de tonnes de synthés et de matériel lourd, coûteux et finalement uniquement là pour un effet théâtral garanti (ça fait bien sur la pochette et sur scène, surtout ces années là) non, l'épure ... certains matériaux sont repris d'un précédent opus incontournable (toujours chez Fractal records), à savoir Jazzex. On reconnaît le découpage en petits fragments, d'instruments acoustiques enregistrés sur bande magnétique (accordéon), c'est ce que l'auteur appelle son travail de couturière... A écouter les quelques 35 mn de Chants magnétiques on se dit qu'on invente plus grand chose aujourd'hui mais qu’on continue après tous ces pionniers, avec des outils parfois différents. En effet tout a été initié dans les années 70... Essentiel !
Patrick Wiklacz / Electroscopie.

> JazzEx
Libération - Vendredi 25 février 2005 (France)

Ancien preneur de son à la télévision française devenu, en 1959, membre du Groupe de recherches musicales de l'ORTF puis disciple de Pierre Schaeffer, Bernard Parmegiani (né en 1927 à Paris), signataire de quelques inoubliables BO électroacoustiques pour les cinéastes Robert Lapoujade, Jacques Baratier, Walerian Borowzyk ou Pierre Kast, n'est pas, à proprement parler, un jazzman. En 1966, pourtant, au sortir d'une rencontre avec le saxophoniste philosophe Jean-Louis Chautemps, il devait concevoir une pièce pour bande magnétique et quartette de jazz (Chautemps, Bernard Vitet, Charles Saudrais, Gilbert Rovère) intitulée JazzEx. «Comme expérience, se souvient son principal interprète, en ces temps-là, il était de bon ton de préférer n'importe quelle expérience, même ratée, à une oeuvre, même réussie.» Expérience réussie, JazzEx n'entre ainsi dans aucune de ces deux catégories. Chautemps encore : «Voilà bien ce qui frappe, avec le recul, quarante ans après. Pas une seconde d'ennui à l'écoute de la pièce. II y a là de la vie.» Et, preuve que celle-ci continue, trois autres compositions insolites de Parmegiani complètent ce collage jazzy, dont Et après..., inspirée en 1973 par le bandonéon de Michel Portal et enregistrée au festival Manca de Grasse, vingt-trois ans plus tard.
Serge Loupien

> JazzEx
All-Music Guide website - December 2004 (Canada) 

What is the academic electroacoustic composer Bernard Parmegiani doing on a label whose catalog features mostly Japanese noise rock Acid Mothers Temple, Mainliner, etc. and weird Industrial music Ilitch, Musique Concret, etc.? Surprising, yes, but one listen to this collection of works from the late '60s and early '70s and you will agree that "JazzEx" feels right at home in Fractal's rooster. Ranging from acutely avant-garde pieces for tape and live instruments to quirky sound collages, this album is one colorful acid trip (no offense to Mr. Parmegiani!). The title track is the main dish. Clocking in at 17 minutes, "JazzEx" is the result of a collaboration between the composer and a free jazz quartet consisting of Jean-Louis Chautemps (sax), Bernard Vitet (trumpet), Gilbert Rovère (doublebass) and Charles Saudrais (drums). The tape part was derived from recordings of the quartet that were manipulated in very creative ways, and the musicians interact with this part in real time, improvising their way through the piece. The result was resolutely ahead of its time, relegating most every other "psychedelic" experiments of the time to childhood noodling. The piece is fierce, complex, driving and relentless. It still sounds fresh to this day. "Pop'eclectic" an "electroacoustic divertimento" taken from a soundtrack for a 1969 film by Peter Foldés and "Du Pop à l'Âne" (1969) are two sound collages playing on the peculiarity of sonic meetings and the level of familiarity of the listener with their sources. "Du Pop à l'Âne" is a revised Top 100 of the '60s, where The Doors become one with Frank Zappa among other pairings. The sources are ominously recognizable. It makes for an entertaining listen with a few twists and turns, but it remains more of a time capsule than an impressive composition. "Pop'eclectic" is a more subtle affair hinting at pastiches of the popular genres of concert and film music of the era. It also has a strong psychedelic influence that brings the resulting music close to some of Makoto Kawabata's experiments. The final work, "Et Après" (1973) is slightly more what you would expect from Parmegiani. A piece for bandoneon and tape (consisting of treated bandoneon sounds), it offers a frantic choreographed duet around a tango fragment. The version included here was recorded in 1996 and features Michel Portal (who had also premiered the work in 1973). "JazzEx" is not essential Parmegiani, but he may help revise some of our preconceptions about this pillar of French electroacoustic music.
François Couture


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