Review: Thomas Tilly – Le Vent Relatif (sirr-ecords, Jul 16)

The first music by Thomas Tilly that I loved was also the album that introduced him to me: 2018’s Codex Amphibia on Glistening Examples, which was both a crucial introduction into the world of exploratory phonography and one of the first Noise Not Music reviews. Since then I’ve devoured his many spectacular releases—A Semiotic Survey, Stones, Air, Axioms / Delme with Jean-Luc Guionnet, Script Geometry—but nothing has truly amazed me so intensely and immediately as Le Vent Relatif, his most recent album. These pieces were produced in a metal workshop long ago for a documentary, and it boggles my mind that Tilly has sat on these absolutely superb, fully fleshed-out compositions for nearly a decade. Harnessing an assembly line’s worth of machinery, tools, scrap metal, and other industrial ephemera, each self-contained track is an enrapturing episode of tactile immersion, submerging the listener in a cold yet comfortable world of whir, spin, scrabble, and scrape. The fluid agility of the performances and processing, coupled with a subtle undercurrent of sizzling electricity, reminds me a great deal of Andrea Borghi’s VHS—an esteemed comparison I was unable to justifiably make until now. Le Vent Relatif is an indirect love letter to everything that is so magnetic about machinery noises: the neutral, apathetic tension; sublime overtones emerging in a seemingly static din; the pure and always slightly unsettling beauty of detachment.