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Sounds French
from Leftfield Electronic to illbient Downbeat
organized by ELSA Productions on behalf of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

March 15, 2003

Rio Theatre, 8 p.m.
1205 soquel ave, Santa Cruz

March 17, 2003
Wheeler Auditorium, 8 p.m.
UC Berkeley

Tickets available at Streetlight record stores ($10)
Locations: check out www.streetlightrecords.com

“Sounds French” (from Leftfield Electronic to illbient Downbeats) celebrates Luc Ferrari, one of the great unsung pioneers of electronic music. The founding director of the Group de Musique Concrète in 1958, Ferrari was one of the first composers to seriously build upon John Cage’s maxim, “music is all around us if only we had ears”. Ferrari’s soundscapes based on ambient sounds of daily life are both evocative and socially engaged. Through a wide range of musical projects, he has influenced several Generations of experimental composers.

Ferrari hosts and performs in two concerts with the Bay Area’s foremost new music and improviser percussionist, William Winant, and with DJ Olive, also known as the audio janitor from East-Village underground digital lab.

This program features Ferrari‘s sound journey through the U.S. (Far West News) and a joint-performance mixing from his own compositional archive with DJ Olive and William Winant (Archives sauvées des eaux). For the second set, visuals will be provided by Warren Stringer with his visual instrument Sky (Santa Cruz,) and by Sue Costabile (Berkeley). Clatterbox, from Santa Cruz free radio, will provide the intermission SAlon atmosphere for both dates.

“Sounds French” is a month-long festival of new music from France taking place in NYC in March 2003 and coordinated by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy (www.soundsfrench.com).

From the New-York time (Feb. 23 2003):                   
What’s French about French Music?
The festival also explores the last 55 years of French electronic music, from the pioneering taped sounds of musique concrète to recent electroacoustic music created at the Groupe de Recherche Musicale of Radio France, paying particular attention to the work of the “renegades” Luc Ferrari and Pierre Henry.


Concert Program

Far-West News #1 (March 1999)
September 11 to 16, 1998
From Santa Fe to Monument Valley
29 minutes 30 seconds

At first the idea went something like this: A composer, with a weird life full of instrumental and electroacoustic compositions, specialist in travel-microphone is planning to make a random trip across South-West USA.
The trip took place in September 1998. Day after day, the highway unfolds, recordings are dated, places indicated in an atmosphere of car (rented), day after day, sound encounters are made, people are passed, life's fabric is woven.
Back home, after listening, a three-part composition takes shape, each part built in the same way out of different events.

What to say about it.

It's not a report or a soundscape, not a Hörspiel or an electronic work, not a portrait or a recorded reality exhibit not a transgression of reality or an impressionist account, not a so on or so forth. It's a composition.
At first I thought it was manifest, a soft, derisory manifesto. I also thought that my "radiophonic" compositions were a new way of writing a biographical book. Then I called it a sound poem around a real voyage since it may very well be that poetry is playing life like an accordion, and that composition in some cases, especially in mine, and increasingly in my life, is a perverted game with truth.

What more can be said? That the subtitle could be "sound poem after nature."

And what else?

Archives Sauvées des Eaux (January - April 2000)
Exploitation des Concepts 1
(for 2 CDs and Vinyls . about 50')

Since autumn 99 I undertook the composition of a new series with the general title "Exploitation of the concepts".

The aim is precisely to use the concepts I experimented during my whole life as a composer and this in all possible directions. Just as well in writing for instruments as in electroacoustics, in video, in multimedia-installations, in using the new technologies as well as the old ones, in composing concertlike works, which means with a duration that suites to the idea of concert, or concertunlike works which means with an "undetermined" duration. These exploitations are going in all directions: the tautology, the superposed cycles, the minimalism of the "Presque rien", the random architecture, the anecdotal, the narration, the everyday life, the poor art, the memories and so on, all these concepts which came up in my preoccupations but which I have not really exploited until now.

The idea for using my archives grew up from the necessity to update the aids of these memories. In my studio I have actually magnetic tapes representing all the recordings I have made since 1960 and which I have used or not. Copying these elements on CD I suddenly felt the desire to transform this boring work into creative work. And instead of copying I began to compose. By this way was born a new composition which exploits the archives from 1974 (one must begin somewhere), was born also from the commission I got to perform with a DJ: encounter between Wim Wabbes, leader of the Vooruit in Gent, DJ Olive from New York and me.


Artist Biographies

  • Luc Ferrari first obtained a thorough, traditional technique in composition. He proceeded to become interested in the recording process to such a degree that he began to make tape pieces using altered ambient sounds and later incorporated electronics into his work in an effective and original manner. Taking John Cage's exhortation seriously, that "music is all around us if only we had ears”, he completed Presque Rien No. 1 (1970), a kind of musical photography of a small village in Yugoslavia, recorded throughout a long day, in which no apparent “musical” sounds are included. Shortly thereafter, Ferrari appeared on KPFA Radio in Berkeley. His interviewers, Richard Friedman and Charles Amirkhanian, decided to follow his lead and solicit ambient sound recordings from individuals all over the globe. The World Ear Project of KPFA proceeded to broadcast hundreds of such tapes, made on then-new cassette machines in the field. Numerous composers on the West Coast began to incorporate such sounds into their electronic works.
    Beyond the mere acceptance of ambient sounds as musical, Ferrari found that his forays with the professional tape recorder into public places added a level of social engagement to his work. This led him to compose pieces in which the audience becomes voyeuristically involved with a kind of audio home movie. Beyond his work involving technology, Ferrari has composed a large body of instrumental music. And among his important credits are a series of invaluable television films which he made about the rehearsal processes of Varèse, Messiaen, Stockhausen and others.
  • Gregor Ash, aka DJ Olive the Audio Janitor, along with DJ Spooky, is one of principal representatives of the "illbient" scene of New York (www.phonomena.com, www.theAgriculture.com).Mixing a swing atmosphere, urban soundscapes, and the rhythms of drum'n bass and dub, he has been a member of Christian Marclay’s turntable trio which has performed at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Philharmonia in Koln. He was also involved in SYR5. a project with Ikue Mori, Kim Gordon and Yuka Honda- mixed by Jim O’Rourke for Sonic Youth Recordings. He worked on Uri Caine"s Mahler record in 1997 and more recently in Caine's Goldberg Variations. With "We", he released several albums on the San Francisco label Asphodel, and with his trio "Liminal", he created at the Knitting Factory in NYC the sound track for the film Noseferatu by Murnau.
    Dj Olive is developping a concept of "Vinyl Scores" for the turntable. These are pallettes of sound produced and aranged in his studio pressed on vinyl then interpreded by turntablists. Composition 11 for three turntables was commissioned by Roulette in '97, performed in '98 and was released as a vinyl score in '99. He developed and performed a vinyl score for Franz Triechler's "Copier/coller". He premiered his vinyl score "perpetual sound check" in Brussels in '00. This event featured eight separate live interpretations by international dj's.
  • William Winant (www.newalbion.com/artists/winantw/), "one of the best avant-garde percussionists working today" according to Mark Swed of The Los Angeles Times, has collaborated with some of the most inovative and creative musicians of our time, including John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Keith Jarrett, Anthony Braxton, James Tenney, Cecil Taylor, Steve Reich, Jean-Philippe Collard, Frederic Rzewski, Ursula Oppens, Joan LaBarbara, and the Kronos String Quartet. He is principal percussionist with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the John Zorn Chamber Ensemble.
    Since 1995 he has been the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, has made two recordings (Disco Volante and California on Warner Brothers), and has toured throughout the world with the group. Recently he completed tours of the United States, Great Britain, and Japan with the world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group.
  • Warren stringer’s first musical memory was crawling under a grand piano and kicking up at the sustain bar to hear a magic echo of resonant strings. It would be a while before he found that the upper reaches of piano could render a more diverse sequence of sounds, that some say might call melodies. Within a few years, he was programming synthesizers and creating quadraphonic vortices and Fibonacci feedback chambers – returning back to the kick-bar sustain of his youth. Meanwhile, he was writing code to compress language and to organize anything worth knowing. This led to some interesting gigs designing user interfaces, database engines, and multimedia projects for clients like Borland, HP, Intel, Lotus, Microsoft, Xerox, and so on. After a prolonged period of writing code, visuals, and music, he began to see similarities. This led to the creation of a visual synthesizer, called Sky, that can be performed live – like a musical instrument (www.muse.com).
  • Sue Costabile is a photographer and video artist working with a combination of analog and digital processes, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with various musicians. Born in long island, new york in 1974, she has resided in San Francisco’s Lower Haight since 1996. With academic training largely focused on both the natural and built environments (first studying ecology and then architectural engineering) themes of the organic and the inorganic are often explored. Her live improvisational video performances involve various media including photographs, negatives, drawings and tiny objects, set in motion and digitized in real-time, then processed in the Jitter software environment.
  • Clatterbox is/has been a diverse collective of live electronic music and auditory pontification broadcasting live on FRSC for 6 years ongoing...utilizing any and all sources mixed live by DJ Matter Embryo and DJJ.geewhiz at the Mega Studio A.