Mathias Forge / Olivier Toulemonde

August 21, 2011


Another Timbre at33

More than a trombone plus accompaniment session, Pie ‘n’ Mash – meaning of title unknown – is instead an essay in non-representative sound production created out of fascinating microtonal noise by two Continental improvisers, but recorded in Sheffield, England.

Berlin-based Olivier Toulemonde – name likely an improvisation as well – who has been involved with non-idiomatic sound-making at least since the early 1990s, plays so-called acoustic objects and amplified springs. His brass partner here, Roanne-native Mathias Forge has worked in the Collectif Ishtar as has Toulemonde, and besides musical associates such as trumpeter Axel Dörner, he like Toulemonde, uses his trombone and preparations in performances with poets, painters, dancers and the like. Since a flat disc lacks visual elements, the challenge of this single, nearly 39 minute creation is to chart the course of the duo as they slide, slither, stand pat and set off timbres and resonation that range from barely-there reductionism to fortissimo blasts of motor-driven scrapes and flanges.

Split-second or protracted pauses mark transitions in the sounds which are pointillist rather than layered or linear. Staccato friction and abrasions mark Toulemonde’s patterning that either posits or responds with choruses of resonating clanks created by dragging solid objects across equally unyielding surfaces, or which uses the friction caused by grinding against one another items of similar weight and thickness. His interface isn’t without buoyancy however. Besides the shimmering ricochet that quiver until completion, within audible range are gong resonations that could be produced by signal processing; clanks, clatters and rubbed portamento tones; and what certainly sounds like a coin spinning and shuddering as it rolls on top of a flat surface.

Eschewing standard brass vocabulary, Forge’s intermittent and understated contribution appear to be created by blowing and whistling through his instrument’s body tube, avoiding valve fingering or slide extensions of any sort. Instead modulating tones are produced with tongue stops, hand muting, lip bubbles and flutters. Very occasionally guffaws, wheezes or fortissimo slurs are heard. But these are swiftly subsumed beneath ghostly whistles and crackling static. At length, completing variants on a narrative that isn’t particularly linear or tonal from the start, the two combine their air movements and chafed friction into a constant clatter whose extensions suggest cymbal clashes and brass overblowing, completing the picture with loud pedal tones from Forge and plus a coda of buzzing static from Toulemonde.

Putting aside any musical or even sonic preconceptions is necessary to follow Forge’s and Toulemonde’s experimentations. Many will turn away. But those willing to immerse themselves in duo’s sound world will likely be amply rewarded and possibly captivated.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Pie‘n’Mash

Personnel: Mathias Forge (trombone) and Olivier Toulemonde (acoustic objects and amplified springs)