Review: Angelo Bignamini – Feu de Joie (Ambient Noise Session, Mar 2)

The first thing we hear on Feu de Joie is the violin, a warm, plodding octave vamp in the same spirit as the opening moments of Jim O’Rourke’s Happy Days, and just based on this section one might think they’re about to hear a very different album. But Bignamini and his arsenal of deconstructive sensibilities do not disappoint; this rather short tape is an expansive and expressive patchwork of beautiful abstractions that nonetheless is haunted by the tangibility of the most ubiquitous classical string instrument. Between lush, heavily tape-processed crackle-scapes, rainfall, everyday ephemera, and decontextualized voice, the violin is in turn meditative, elegiac, wistful, spectral. According to Bignamini, much of the less identifiable textures were created by it being “manipulated, broken down and corroded through the use of tape recorders and some electric interferences produced by various loudspeakers and cheap microphones,” so it likely has a place in most if not all of the handful of untitled tracks, but it is these moments of lucid convention that anchor the artist’s elusive assemblages. The stated classic musique concréte influence is also an enjoyable and unifying current throughout the tape. I’m especially partial to the fourth (or maybe the third?) piece on side B, in which minuscule electronic pinches, crystalline fast-forward blur, and aquatic modular bloops form a tried-and-true amalgam. This is, as expected, fantastic stuff. Curse you IT→US shipping prices!