Barrière – second album

Barriere secondThis album, unlike Barrière’s first, is stylistically varied at any hearing, the first or the hundred and first. Indeed, the first piece itself, Dessus la mer, is all over the place, as befits a piece that attempts (among other things) to present the musics the composer enjoyed growing up. It is an endlessly fascinating piece; in its quiet way more wild—full of sudden shifts and unusual juxtapositions—than any non live improv piece has any business being.

Equus, on the other hand, is an essay in ringing changes on one sound: the sound of horse hooves, run through the paces (as it were) of several classic studio techniques, and maybe some not quite so classic. I’d be tempted to say it was a primer in those techniques, were it not that it’s such an engaging piece. You could get caught up in identifying which filters are being used, or when reverb has been added or not, and examine things like splicing and multilayering. But why would you?

The final piece, Scenes des voyages d’Ulysse, while it does cover a lot of ground, never strikes me as being episodic—not as episodic as the title could lead one to expect. It’s maybe a matter of pacing, the overall tempo of the work remaining the same throughout. It’s maybe even more a matter of sound. It’s difficult to convey in words without giving a false impression, but from start to finish, the piece stays within a certain sound world. Not to say that there’s no variety, or that there’s a dull sameness to the sound. That would be completely wrong. There’s plenty of variety, but it’s variety that never leaves a certain distinct sound world—unlike Dessus la mer, say, which tosses off bits and pieces from all sorts of sound worlds.

A very different album from Barrière’s first, but just as rewarding.

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