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La règle Fünf

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Sporadic sonic exchanges exploring guidelines, graphic scores, or completely improvised with an expansive instrumentorium, La règle was recorded between two residential basements on Berri Street, and live on a campus-community radio station from 2011 to 2014 in various formations. None of the pieces feature all six members of Fünf simultaneously.

This item can be downloaded and/or listened to at funf5.bandcamp.com.

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La règle

Fünf

Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H Crispo

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In the Press

  • Dave Madden, The Squid’s Ear, July 15, 2015
    … the members of Fünf create music that warrants a binge.
  • Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, June 1, 2015
  • Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 970, February 16, 2015
    … there surely is some poetry in their sonic excursions.
  • François Couture, Monsieur Délire, February 6, 2015
    The mix plays with a very large stereo spectrum where each sound is carefully (dis) placed, to a choreographic level. I recommended listening to La règle on headphones, in order to not miss this level of detail.
  • Massimiliano Busti, Blow Up, no. 201, February 1, 2015
  • Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, January 30, 2015
    The music unfolds organically and has a John Cage like vibe. The sounds do a good job of evoking a mood, like slowly changing scenery in a European art house film.
  • Łukasz Komła, Nowamuzyka, January 13, 2015

Heard in

Dave Madden, The Squid’s Ear, July 15, 2015

I recently had a debate about recipes. Someone presented the idea that following a script with exact precision is how we ensure success. I countered that, sure, this can be true, but think about all the people who break the rules and improve upon the process. "Well you have to know the rules before you can break them." Touché, but what if there are no existing guidelines for a particular design? That’s how Fünf seem to work, as their electroacoustic / concrète fusion is — so to speak — no cake or lamb shank you’ve ever sampled.

Here are the ingredients:

  • Magali Babin: Performer (amplified objects, tape deck, nebulophone, field recordings)
  • Andrea-Jane Cornell: Performer (amplified objects, field recordings, accordion, loops and voice)
  • Martine H Crispo: Performer (circuit bent toys, iDensity, electronics)
  • Anne-Francoise Jacques: Performer (rotation, objects, amplification)
  • Émilie Mouchous: Performer (analogue synthesizers, electronic fabric)
  • Erin Sexton: Performer (oscillators, electromagnetic fields, microphone)

Mix these thoroughly until each performer is unrecognizable "between two residential basements on Berri Street, and live on a campus-community radio station from 2011 to 2014," and don’t include everyone at the same time on each piece. The end result is a seamless production of delicate splendor.

Beginning with "Chaleur", the group introduces an alien communication of reversed spinning plates and ghostly feedback and drones; suddenly, an aural door opens up, and the track is grounded in a lo-fi hiss, snippets of tonal "music" and sputtering circuits. "Aimes-tu ma porte?" features a rhythm bed of camera flash power-on, a cymbal neutered of its attack and the muddled rumbling of Jacques’ "rotating surfaces". On "The Name’s Name", telephone busy signals mix with a chuckling German couple and manipulated airy wisps. Synthetic blips, purrs, pings, flicks and growls push alongside high heel footsteps on "Girl in the Vague"; as those begin to relax and fade, a cat in the distance begins to yowl, capping off the piece with a spooky coda.

The most ambitious work, "Retenue mystique", settles over a flock of humming ambience that comes and goes, providing a somber backdrop for nervy mechanical squeals, thick swells of vowels (think Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna), sinister rasps, a Dopplering monologue and occasional synthesizer blips. The whole thing together makes your body and mind sway until the booming, electrical charge misfires of the appropriately named "Loud Operetta" break the meditation.

La règle belongs in the same world with sonic sculptors Jason Kahn, Tim Olive, Norbert Möslang, Toshimaru Nakamura, The Lappetites etc., but, as previously mentioned, there is something curiously unique about the music. Perhaps it is the group’s patience, economy of sound, tidy frequency choices (i.e. keeping the highs paired with lows à la Stravinsky orchestration for a clear listening experience) and insistent, unresolved tension. Regardless of secret spices, the members of Fünf create music that warrants a binge.

… the members of Fünf create music that warrants a binge.

Critique

Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, June 1, 2015

De même que les trois mousquetaires étaient quatre, les Fünf sont six… Six femmes pratiquant une musique électroacoustique improvisée, basée à la fois sur quelques instruments électroniques, électromagnétiques, des objets de leur propre cru, tel le nébulophone (?), amplifiés, manipulés de diverses manières, avec l’adjonction d’un seul instrument acoustique à finalité musicale, l’accordéon. Y-a-t-il une règle? Une seule apparemment, ne pas jouer toutes les six en même temps. Pour le reste, aucune indication… Les instruments sont frottés, triturés, confrontés à du field recording, et des effets électroniques, sans que l’on sache qui fait quoi. Bref, La Règle propose une musique underground ou plutôt underfloor, réalisée en grande partie dans deux caves résidentielles mais qui aboutit à une douzaine de récits de durée variable, dans une ambiance assez feutrée et aux titres évocateurs, voire subtils: Gélée de pomme, Retenue mystique, l’or de Mona Lisa…

Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 970, February 16, 2015

Fünf is a new voice. It is a collective of Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H Crispo, Anne-Françoise Jacques, Émilie Mouchous and Erin Sexton. As an all female ensemble they fit however in a tradition with Wondeur Brass and Justine as earlier all-women line ups in the Ambiances Magnétiques circles. They use a wide range of electronics, synthesizers, microphones, field recordings, loops, amplified objects etc. Only accordion and voice as conventional instruments. They spread their ideas over 12 tracks varying in length between 0:39 and 8:53 minutes. It is radical noise improvisation what they practice, but not of a kind that attracts much attention. The music makes no immediate appeal on the listener, who by his turn has really to concentrate. Is this rewarding? I think so. They don’t choose for an overkill of noise, but for very stripped down sound improvisations. And there surely is some poetry in their sonic excursions.

… there surely is some poetry in their sonic excursions.

Listening Diary

François Couture, Monsieur Délire, February 6, 2015

Fünf (German for five) is an all-female twelve-handed collective: Magali Babin, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Martine H Crispo, Anne-François Jacques, Émilie Mouchous, and Erin Sexton, all based in Montreal. They all experiment with electricity and home-made or modified devices. This is the realm of circuit-bending, miniature sound sculptures, automatons, and the art of getting contact microphones to sing.

The music is a form of microsonic free improvisation where silence, without being king, has its role to play. Rubbing sounds, scratching sounds, murmurs, slight movements, parasites, controlled feedback, field recordings — all these sounds are small, fragile, and measured. They tell a wide range of stories, some intriguing, some ridiculous, some are even moving, and not a single one is predictable.

La règle (French for either “the rule” or “the ruler”) features twelve pieces ranging from a few seconds to close to nine minutes recorded between 2011 and 2014 in various groupings though never as a full sextet. I knew the work of three of the collective’s six musicians prior to this CD: Sexton, who plays with light and electrical interferences; Babin, whose Chemin de fer (No Type, 2002) remains a very fine listen; and Jacques, the lady with the little automatons, who has a nice duo CD with Tim Olive. Sadly (and that will be my sole criticism), there is no information on the jacket about who plays what and where, which means that I cannot really say that I have been acquainted with the other three members.

Though, come to think about it, this might no be so sad after all. By hiding their parts, the collective are focusing our attention on the whole. And that whole boasts a unity of spirit that charmed me from listen number 1. Who’s responsible for this or that aural find? Fünf, who integrate it to Fünf’s other finds. The mix plays with a very large stereo spectrum where each sound is carefully (dis) placed, to a choreographic level. I recommended listening to La règle on headphones, in order to not miss this level of detail.

My personal highlights are Retenue mystique, the album’s longest track, because its title (“Mystical Restraint”) describes it perfectly and I felt like I was in a space opera, right at the moment of calm before the storm. I am also fond of the subtle yet twisted humour in Aimes-tu ma porte?, and of Morceau de Fünf, where the collective is almost reinventing Luc Ferrari’s concept of presque rien (almost nothing).

The mix plays with a very large stereo spectrum where each sound is carefully (dis) placed, to a choreographic level. I recommended listening to La règle on headphones, in order to not miss this level of detail.

Review

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, January 30, 2015

Sporadic sonic exchanges exploring guidelines, graphic scores, or completely improvised with an expansive instrumentation, La Règle was recorded between two residential basements on Berri Street, and live on a campus community radio station from 2011 to 2014 in various formations. None of the pieces feature all six members of Fünf simultaneously. What’s interesting about this Quebecois sextet is that they are all women and the liner notes doesn’t quite list their instrumentation other than amps, objects, homemade synths and oscillators, all DIY analog stuff. The sounds are carefully created, tapping on mics, humming, soft drones, static, German spoken word samples, test patterns, a busy signal, sniffles, quiet feedback, etc. The music unfolds organically and has a John Cage like vibe. The sounds do a good job of evoking a mood, like slowly changing scenery in a European art house film.

The music unfolds organically and has a John Cage like vibe. The sounds do a good job of evoking a mood, like slowly changing scenery in a European art house film.

Recenzje

Łukasz Komła, Nowamuzyka, January 13, 2015

Żeński kolektyw Fünf z Montrealu na swoim albumie „La Règle” zabiera nas do świata muzyki improwizowanej. Twórczość tych znakomitych artystek cechuje ich nietuzinkowe podejście do tworzenia systemów amplifikacji i instrumentów, a mam tu na myśli: własnej roboty syntezatory, oscylatory, hydrofony, różnego rodzaju odbiornik generujące fale radiowe i wiele innych instrumentów zrobionych z niepotrzebnych rzeczy, które w ich rękach dostają nowe życie. „La Règle” to dwanaście kompozycji z okolic elektroakustyki i improwizacji, a także czuć w nich fascynacje tym, co można było usłyszeć w latach 60. w zbiorach bibliotek muzycznych BBC.

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