Review: Kassel Jaeger – Le Lisse et le Strié (Latency, May 5)

François Bonnet, who releases music as Kassel Jaeger, is an artist with an immense respect for sound. Apart from running the indispensable archival label INA-GRM, his book The Order of Sounds: A Sonorous Archipelago, published by Urbanomic earlier this year, contributed his ideas about the heterogeneity of sound and the lingually subversive way in which we process it to the global discourse. Bonnet’s reverence for the “shifting sonic territories” that surround him is communicated by the profoundly personal way in which he constructs his music; on Le Lisse et le Strié, he processes sounds with a defined idea of texture in mind, sculpting them into spacious, layered environments. It’s stated that the album was “conceived as an exploration of the two antagonist concepts of ​’smooth’ and ​’striated’,” a duality of focus reflected by how the multitude of hums and pulses occupy the stereo space; some restlessly flit from channel to channel, as if they are “enclosed,” while others expand and contract with the freedom of an organic entity. In the process of creating these abstract soundscapes, Bonnet finds himself in a world where sounds are not fettered by their context in the real world, and instead are allotted autonomy by the listener—an idea very much in line with Bonnet’s writings. Absent of concept, Le Lisse et le Strié ambles through sublime clouds of synthetic curves, electric crackles, and occasional hints of untreated recordings; but it’s also a study in how one person can creatively utilize their identity as an astute listener and processor of sound.