Despite recording some landmark works with GRM (including a masterful triple LP with Pierre Schaeffer in the '60s), Guy Reibel is a name that is often forgotten when discussing musique concrète. While fame (as far as fame for experimental 20th century composers goes) has eluded him compared to other members of the GRM, his music has always delivered. This album, originally released in 1978, shows Reibel in particularly good light as he creates an unprecedented, and since unmatched, sonic vocabulary.
Although Granulations-Sillages/Franges Du Signe has been issued on CD, it has been difficult to track down and, like the Pierre Schaeffer LP also out this month, Editions Mego have done a wonderful job on their reissue via the Recollection GRM sub-label. As well as sounding incredible, the sleeve notes fill in some of the difficult details around the two compositions presented here. Both take the idea of space and rhythm to a point beyond what can be explored with normal instruments. Reibel’s background in engineering and his interest in the mathematics behind sound or indeed how mathematics could be expressed using sound makes for complex, indecipherable music that challenges any common assumptions about what music is or should be.
Although intended for a sound system consisting of six speakers, "Granulations-Sillages" translates well to a normal stereo set up. While I can only imagine the spatial depth and acoustic effects that would have occurred with half a dozen speakers, here the result is still startling and unpredictable, even after engaging with it many times. Reibel employs very rough noises, probing the limits of human perception across multiple domains. Reibel works in a way that remains abstract but pulls the listener into a rich world of sound by immersing them in a three-dimensional space. It honestly feels that I could reach out and touch the sounds as the form around me.
"Franges du Signe" is a slightly earlier work that preempts and informs Reibel’s work on "Granulations-Sillages." However, where "Granulations-Sillages" was controlled and had an alien beauty about it, here Reibel appears to let loose with a chaotic and fiery piece which takes the idea of a mathematical limit and examines the properties of such limits when applied to real world phenomena like sound. It is remarkable stuff, conflicting rhythms and unusual textures coming together to form an elemental whole. An almost serene mood develops as the volume lowers to a point where I am tempted to turn everything up but I resist that urge for fear of a resurgence of loud noises blowing up my stereo (which, it turns out, is what would have happened…).
Granulations-Sillages/Franges Du Signe, along with Pierre Schaeffer’s Le Trièdre Fertile, represents a significant opening volley from Recollection GRM. With releases by Bernard Parmegiani and Luc Ferrari on the horizon, I can only hope that Peter Rehberg returns to Reibel at some point in the future. Mr. Rehberg, if you are reading this, the triple LP by Reibel and Schaeffer would be an awesome edition to your catalog.
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