Philippe Petit – Modulisme Session 051 2nd Year BD

Posted: 30 November 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , ,

4th September 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s small wonder that there is a huge affection for modular synths, because quite simply nothing else creates the same range of sounds. French label Modulisme is devoted to all things modular, to the exploration of modular synthesis. It’s operated by a small team consisting of Philippe Petit (A&R), Yan Proefrock (Founder, administrator & artistic director), Guillaume Amen, Cédric Languin, and Bas Mantel, and elements of the contents of their website are telling: the header for the links section suggests that ‘To keep our virus spreading Modulisme is relayed thru the following alleys’. William Burroughs references aren’t the only literary and theoretical allusions, and there’s an interesting formal styling to the titles of the label’s releases, which document artist sessions for the label, which is clinical and library-like. Subtitled ‘the birthday session,’ Modulisme Session 051 2nd Year BD commemorates the second anniversary of the label’s existence.

Petit explains that for this release, he elected to ‘« compose » a session instead of improvising’, and explains how he ‘followed the idea of drift as a privileged practice of opening up to the new, the one defined by Debord’… and ‘Following the spirit of situationist irreverence and creativity I hope to stimulate a dérive towards a closer listen…’

In doing so, Petit explores the full range of his modular gear on this outing for an even ten pieces, which include four behemoth workouts spanning in excess of seven minutes, including the monumental seventeen-minute ‘Une villégiature Cosmétique’ which spirals in as the second track.

There’s a lot of bibbling bubbling, frothy, squelchy synth sound on offer here, and much of it is quite palatable; but then, in exploring that range, Petit lands on the grinding unease of ‘Driftin’ to EcsTazy’ which strays into metallic discombobulation and discomfort as it serves up eleven minutes of metallic scrapes, buzzes and agitated drones, but-ups, samples, loops and overlays. It’s neither pleasant nor comfortable, and if on the one hand it’s a thrown-together random work of frivolousness and near-flippancy, it’s equally a reminder that endless ruptures can be difficult to navigate, and ‘drift’ ultimately translates as entirely non-linear and consequently at times difficult to digest and difficult to process.

The two ‘Psychographical Pivotal Point’ pieces may be but brief interludes, but they both pack in an abundance of warping rhythms and general abstract weirdness. No, it is not all in your mind.

Listening to Modulisme Session 051 2nd Year BD is like swallowing a lot of food without chewing, and some if it is hard to swallow. That’s by no means a criticism. Art is supposed to be challenging. And this is most definitely art.

AA

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