Opening with a discordant flute, this disc initially leads the listener to expect the mind-bending found-sound experiments for which Ambiances Magnétiques are deservedly known. Instead, this pair of Pierres take listeners on a relatively grounded exploration of classical Indian music. The eight compositions abound with drones and delicately shaded textures, combining low-pitched wind drones with melodies just foreign enough to induce thought, but not confusion. I find it particularly pleasing that many of the disc’s soft sounds mimic those just outside my door. For example, the low pan flute notes that open Voila! are mirrored by the whistle of a train rolling through town. Elsewhere, a clank, a cough or an indefinable hum could easily be coming from my speakers or from the hallway. This type of sonic serendipity achieves a delicate balance between the inner and outer ear, mimicking the meditative balance between mind and body. This warrants the comparison to classical Indian music as much as the sound sources themselves do. More importantly, they demand repeated listens in order to fully explore the sounds on the record, as opposed to the sounds that exist in the environment or in my own head.
This repetition serves to bring out the subtle textures of the recording itself. The slow, insinuating introduction of a tabla in Voila!, or the nearly subliminal kalimba counterpoint to the birdsongs in Le Grand Bonhomme de Chemin, initially go unnoticed. However, just as the trained mind notices subtle patterns after repeated examination, so do seeming minor variations in the music become large and meaningful with additional listens.
Although the disc offers little of the frantic playing that tends to attract Western ears to Eastern music, there are nevertheless a number of wonderful, thoughtful moments to be experienced here. True, this music comes by way of two French Canadians, but the tradition and intent behind La Boulezaille are derived directly from India.