Chronique par Stuart Broomer sur Point of Departure (septembre 2014)

Sometimes music makes me more aware of where I live, of the noise of city street crews (endless rounds of installing gas mains, paving, replacing water pipes, paving), the perpetual sound of renovation, of construction crews fabricating in-fill housing or repairing an aging housing stock. When I started listening to Sens RadiantsI was particularly aware of ambulance sirens on the main road a block away, of the hammer of a carpenter replacing a neighbor’s porch.

As I listen to Sens Radiants in such an environment, there is a dual movement of mood and listening. The baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro is a sonic explorer, a master of multiphonic nuances drawn from extended tones, working with the sonically creative bassist Benjamin Duboc and drummer Didier Lasserre. Sound is an absolute value for them and their focus on the sound sustained and the sound repeated draws one ever further into the textural details of those unwanted ambient sounds. The carpenter’s hammer, the ambulance’s siren seem more of an intrusion than usual at first, perhaps because those very sounds of industry might resemble the sounds with which the trio works. How does one ever fully disconnect the siren that has insinuated itself into the saxophone’s dense bleat?

The ambulances pass, the saxophone and bass and drums remain. Sens Radiants is a singular and single improvisation, 55 minutes long. Most things will pass, if not in the first iteration then in the next. The music rises each time to invest the interference with a meaning that it did not possess before. It may be that there is a specific urban poetry in Lazro’s big horn, as if the baritone saxophone conjoined to the current techniques of circular breathing and multiphonics gives a special poetry to a collection of sounds with industrial resonances even more pointed than when announced on the tenor.

Lazro frequently commemorates one of the golden moments of 20th century music – that instant when the saxophone (signal horn of the industrial age) revealed its capacity to scream with meaning and intensity, art and insistence, somehow larger than the merely human, as if it were a collaboration of the human and the mechanical, an extension of both. The concentration on the long tone is everywhere here, a concentration on the molecular evolution of a sound, whether it’s a struck drum or the penetrating whistle or drone of a bowed cymbal or bass. One of the crucial movements of these sounds and this music is from an apparently industrial exterior to an organic (and equally electrical) interiority, of heart thump, gastric bubbling or brain buzz.

There are moments in Sens Radiants when the music possesses what might be called an unearthly beauty, Lazro’s sound a transformed and transcendent cry, but its ability to continue to elaborate meaning consists in the degree to which it is absolutely an earthly beauty, as close to the earth from which the woods and metals of these instruments were drawn.

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