Francisco Meirino and Bruno Duplant are two widely respected artists with substantial discographies to their names, but as far as I’m aware this is the first time they’ve collaborated on a recording. Inspiration for “Dedans / Dehors” (“Inside / Outside”) came from the music of Luc Ferrari; not being all that familiar with the work of that pioneering composer, I instead found myself making connections with the cinema. It’s not the grand cinematic landscapes more commonly referenced in discussions of ambient music I have in mind, but rather something both more down-to-earth and more intimate, perhaps in the vein of the French New Wave cinema of the 1950s and ’60s (and not just because many voices are heard speaking in French).
Montage and superposition are two cinematic techniques referenced in the album blurb, and they feature throughout as field recordings of indoor and outdoor spaces are combined with a variety of electronic sounds as well as with other field recordings. The tradition of musique concrète is very audible in gestures such as sudden cuts, bold juxtapositions, and a focus on everyday, quotidian sounds. However, the electronic, ‘composed’ sounds make as big an impression as the ‘concrete’ ones, despite the frequent difficulty in distinguishing between the two: whistling, pattering, rumbling, buzzing, hissing, creaking, scraping, and clattering are all used to modulate the identifiable environmental sounds, whether that be to add a calming monotonous drone or to ratchet up the intensity to aggressive peaks. Voices are heard frequently, usually muffled and multiple, as heard among a crowd in a shopping centre or busy street. A man and a woman are heard conversing several times, hinting at the existence of possible narratives that are never spelled out in full.
There’s one sound that really caught my attention when listening to “Dedans / Dehors”, and that’s the bell-like ding introduced very early on and which recurs in various guises throughout. Sometimes it occurs at almost regular intervals, like a loose clock or a metronome subtly shifting one’s perception of time; on other occasions it marks the transition between one section and another, or simply creates a sense of distance with its obvious non-belonging to the main auditory scene. The fact that it keeps coming back, albeit in modified forms, provides continuity and therefore strengthens the sense of narrative that pervades the album. Ultimately this impression leads nowhere in particular, but it is the sense of being led, of being told a story, that marks “Dedans / Dehors” out as a particularly interesting work in the genre of field recordings and electronics.[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=534162384 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small track=537163245]