Le UN is a French free improvisation, a non-hierarchical ensemble led by double bass player David Chiesa that began working in 2019 and comprised of 26 artists – 21 musicians, including pianist Sophie Agnel, sax players Michel Doneda and Bertrand Gauguet, trumpeter Christian Pruvost, cellist Soizic Lebrat, double bass player Rozemarie Heggen and electronics wizards Lionel Marchetti and Jérôme Noetinger, two filmmakers, one visual artist and one performer. Like other seminal free improvisation ensembles such as the Globe Unity Orchestra, King Übü Örchestrü, or London Improvisers Orchestra, or modern-day ensembles such as the Splitter Orchester, Insub Meta Orchestra, or GGRIL, Le UN is attempting to solve the dilemma of practicing free improvisation in such large ensemble without denying the individuality, energy and the joy of risk-taking by each one and all of its improvisers, as well as how to develop original improvisation strategies without falling into the obvious pitfalls of generic drones.
«Le Havre» is the fifth album of Le UN and collects five «Unité Nodale» pieces that were recorded at a three-day recording session at the Volcan hall in the Scène Nationale du Havre in April 2021. As expected, these pieces refuse to be categorized by genre conventions and are not shy from noisy sonic frictions. All pieces suggest intricate and layered, often turbulent and unpredictable collisions of acoustic and electronic sounds, but all manage to suggest an arresting tension and radiate the spontaneous passion for creating music together and individually. And each piece is developed slowly according to its own logic and highlights the mass of strong, singular voices within the massive collective walls of sounds.
The opening 19-minute piece «Unité Nodale 11.2» allows this big ensemble to search for potential and promising improvisation strategies and to expand its imaginative sonic spectrum. The shorter pieces like «Unité Nodale 4.1» and «Unité Nodale 8.2» offer more urgent, often playful and sometimes even chaotic dynamics, but surprisingly also stress the lyrical and emotional sides of Le UN. «Unité Nodale 7» is the most enigmatic texture but with impressive poetic qualities. The last, 18-minute «Unité Nodale 3.1» deepens the mysterious elements with a quiet storm of swirling, eccentric sounds, sometimes even sounding like a dramatic, unworldly ritual that seeks a peaceful, healing catharsis.
Sophie Agnel (p), Pascal Battus (rotating surfaces), Claire Bergerault (v, acc), Benjamin Bondonneau (cl), Christophe Cardoen (lighting apparatus), Patrick Charbonnier (tb), David Chiesa (b), Michel Doneda (ss), Camille Emaille (perc), Nina Garcia (el.g), Amanda Gardone (b), Bertrand Gauguet (as), Anouck Genthon (vio), Rozemarie Heggen (b), Benoit Kilian (perc), Soizic Lebrat (c), Lionel Marchetti (elec), Michel Mathieu (actions), Natacha Muslera (v), Jérôme Noetinger (elec), Jean-Luc Petit (contrabcl), Christian Pruvost (tp), Aude Romart (c), Mathieu Werchowski (vio, viola)