Geins’t Naȉt + L Petitgand – Oublier

Posted: 4 January 2016 in Albums

Mind Travels / Ici d’ailleurs – MT05 – 11th December 2015

The rusted Burroughs adding machine on the front cover hints at the album’s contents in more than one way: like the crumbling staircase on the back, it’s an image of decline, of decay, a reminder of places, scenes and memories forgotten or fading. And then of course, there is the work of the adding machine’s inventor and head of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I descendent, William Seward Burroughs II, infamous author of Naked Lunch and literary inventor of the seminal cut-up method. It’s fitting, because Oublier is a work which plays on the mind through dislocation and juxtaposition, an album that plays on the mind in some of the ways Burroughs’ texts do.

I’m not only referring to the way Burroughs’ most radical work create a simultaneous sense of real time and dream time through the formation of jarring narratives, or the way past, present and future to forge a disorientating and endless present though the dislocated anti-narratives formed by means of the cut-up here. Burroughs is renowned for his prescience, his forward-thinking and his dystopian take on science fiction. Closer reading of Burroughs’ works – in particular his final trilogy, but also texts like The Wild Boys, as well as the cut-up trilogy of the 60s – reveal an author capable of deep nostalgia.

In merging the very different styles of Geins’t Naȉt and Laurent Petitgand – renowned respectively for industrial collaging in the vein of Throbbing Gristle or early Neubauten, and film scores, Oublier offers a sonic work which challenges the listener in unusual ways. By unhooking the conventional temporal bearings of composition, they have forged a work which elicits an almost subconscious response.

Delicate, picked acoustic guitar flicker in and out from an ever-shifting terrain in which electronic and acoustic music and sources indistinguishable in origin push, pull and twist against one another. Stealthy basslines, gentle melodies and echoes of grooves are submerged in extraneous sound on sound, pink noise static hiss (‘Kenie’). Dark atmospherics and sonorous booming low tones contrast with surging tides, obscuring enigmatic, haunting vocals (‘Ghost). ‘Je ne Dors Plus’ is hypnotic, unsettling. Clattering industrial mechanoid rhythms rumble around degraded fragments and snippets. Orchestral strikes rupture dingy desert soundscapes on ‘Brass’, half Foetus, half Master Musicians of Joujouka.

The pieces on Oublier are fragmentary and non-linear, and exist as memories, overwritten and partially erased, palimpsests of faded nostalgia. There are moments through which the listener is led through gentle, sweeping melodies, aching with beauty but tinged with sadness at the corners. Rainfall, whispers – sometimes sultry, sometimes threatening – echo in empty rooms, abandoned but adorned with the spirits of lives past. It isn’t an album you interpret in a concrete definitive sense, and certainly, that any response is by no means fixed or preordained: instead, the supple, shifting nature of the pieces offer fleeting insights and evocations which appeal to the listener’s own experiences and the recollections stored in the memory banks. It’s evocative not of anything explicit, but of vague sensations: the listening experience is therefore shaped by what the individual listener brings to the album. As such, it’s a work which offers an intensely personal listening experience.

This is precisely the aim of the Mind Travels series, which has been little short of of inspiring and inspired, and Oublier offers a veritable palace for the mind to wander in. Sit back, listen, and forget…

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Geins’t Naȉt + L Petitgand – Oublier Online

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