Review: Pascal Battus & Magali Sanheira – Froid Solaire (Entrefer, Jul 3)

Froid Solaire feels at once intimate and massive, as if microscopic sound events like carefully calculated reactions on a laboratory counter are amplified and empowered tenfold (Anton Mobin immediately comes to mind, of course). And yet in that magnification, the arsenal of manual materials harnessed by the freshly formulated duo of Pascal Battus and Magali Sanheira—pickups, objects, devices, effects, and more—gain a hulking industrial character, with subterranean groans and gnashing machinations tracing the dark recesses of a forgotten factory. Squealing feedback begins to sound more like a terrible impending malfunction or a burst steam valve; small percussive hits are rendered as monstrous, ground-quaking gestures; and contact mic–captured sheet metal skitters become the ear-splitting screech of some gigantic mechano-leviathan scraping its oversized scales across a cracked concrete floor. And as if the atmosphere weren’t already paranoia-inducing enough, the ambient live recording, which no doubt contributes a great deal to the profound size this stuff conveys, also captures the small, near-hallucinatory noises of a restless audience: crying children, shifting seats, the occasional cough (all of which had me constantly removing my earbuds and whirling my head around like an idiot). This release would hardly be what it is without such an approach, however, so the fleeting distractions are worth it—and, to look on the bright side, a comforting and perhaps essential reminder that this is music made by people, not machinery.