Forthcoming release on Mathieu Ruhlmann’s caduc. imprint, Trois Conseillers sees the electroacoustic improv trio of Pascal Battus, Anne-F Jacques and Tim Olive perform three works in honour of the Pyrenees summit. Trois Conseillers is not far removed from the sonic alchemy Ruhlmann himself concocts in live settings, where interest lies in the haptic responses of custom built objects that either spin, scrape, vibrate or rub together to produce sound.
Using rotating surfaces, motors, and magnetic pickups, this trio showcases the near-limitless possibilities of a hands-on approach that promises innovation over convention. When you put three performers in the same room who all possess an understanding of the buoyancy at the heart of the process, the squeaks from alien instruments soon find their place as an integral part of the whole.
The album follows a predictable rising and falling narrative, best during the meditative passages involving every member. The first swell of the opening track is a good example, whose background rumbling — like some prickly rain on a taut drum — brings back fond memories of first hearing the sounds of tree branches in wind run through contact mics. As transfixed as I was when first hearing these field recordings, Battus, Jacques and Olive seem equally so toward the amalgamation of their craft.
The second track finds the trio at their most inventive, digging deeper into their sound bank. With virtually all the low-end stripped out, the piece starts with a blast of noise. Overall the track is more sinister than the opener, keeping the listener on edge by intermittently dipping into sonic extremes. And whoever brought in the fucked-up alarm clock (or whatever it is) that comes in at around the 7-minute mark, I commend them. Track 3 brings together the finer elements of the preceding pieces, closing the album out on a welcomed quieter note, as though the trio is deliberately easing us back into the passive white noise of our surrounding environment. Nicely done.