Anne-James Chaton: Événements 09 (CD, Raster Noton, March 2011)

I first encountered the French avant-garde “sound poet” Anne-James Chaton on Alva Noto’s unitxt: he features in the phenomenal opening track, apparently reading out all the serial numbers he can find in Carsten Nicolai’s wallet. This CD is essentially the logical continuation of that idea. The only (I think) sound here is Chaton’s voice, this time apparently reading news reports of important events of 2009 along with other texts (like the terms and conditions on train tickets) associated with those dates. This is processed relatively gently, but then cut up and sequenced to within an inch of its life, so we end up with a pounding rhythmic assault entirely fitting with the glitchier end of Raster Noton’s catalogue. With repetition, the words quickly lose their meaning, and become rhythm and sound. I’ve been fascinated by this sort of thing for ages — I remember being blown away when I first heard Prefuse 73’s Estrocaro EP in 2000, for example — so this is right up my street. It does help that Chaton is French, which makes it all sound, well, foreign (such as when he places the accent on the first syllable of Barack Obama’s surname), and of course also that bit more cool. I find it hypnotic and compulsive. If this all sounds a bit earnest, it shouldn’t: marking the passing of Michael Jackson, he loops “pop is dead” a dozen times before completing the phrase with “the king of pop is dead”, deadpan but clearly (surely?) with his tongue in his cheek. The only problem I have with this record is that it does lead to some very strange ear-worms.
I bought this from Juno. They call it Leftfield.

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