Experimental French improvisers Xavier Charles and Bertrand Gauguet have been playing as a duo since 2013, focusing on sound as a medium of meditation. Charles is known for his collaborations with Norwegian musicians in Dans les Arbes and Palteform bands, as well his long-term collaboration with the Dutch The Ex band, and he often explores the sonic qualities of vibrating surfaces. Gauguet’s work encompasses improvisation, new music and he composes electronic music and he produced plays and soundtracks for dance, cinema, and radio, and he has collaborated with innovative improvisers as British pianist John Tilbury and Austrian trumpeter Franz Hautzinger. «Spectre» is their first recorded work as a duo, captured in March 2015 and in December 2017, featuring Charles playing on acoustic and amplified clarinet and Gauguet on acoustic and amplified alto sax, and released as the debut album of newly founded Akousis Records.
The recording of the six pieces was done with careful emphasis on signal amplification and distortion and with few microphones positioned differently in the studio. Charles and Gauguet explore minimalist and transparent multiphonic spaces on «Phonomnèse 1», «Phonomnèse 2» and «Phonomnèse 3» with impressive control and focus as if they were playing only the contours of these delicate and static drones on the acoustic clarinet and the acoustic alto sax. These subtle pieces sound at times as electronic, ambient sine waves.
Both Charles and Gauguet are using amplifications on «Étendue 1» and «Étendue 2» in order to create alien and cinematic, highly resonant sonic landscapes that involve minimalist distortions and noises. «Point fantôme» focuses on extended breathing techniques and Charles and Gauguet explore here an almost silent, fragile but surprisingly an industrial-percussive soundscape.
«Spectre» mirrors the delicate and contemplative «Phonomnèse» drones with the disturbing and vibrating «Étendue» and «Point fantôme» soundscapes. This tension invites the attentive listener to reflect on the suggestive power of quiet music and of deep listening.
Xavier Charles (cl), Bertrand Gauguet (as)