AMN Reviews: Uliben Duo – Shared Memory [Creative Sources CS327]

SharedmemoryfaceMemory has fascinated humans for as long as there have been humans. With their CD Shared Memory the Uliben Duo take this fascination and from it make a metaphor in sound for memory and its sometimes surprising mutability.

The Uliben Duo is French double bassist Benoit Cancoin and German sound artist Ulrich Phillipp, who here contributes live interactive electronics. The two began collaborating about ten years ago as a double bass duo. For this recording Cancoin remains on double bass but Phillipp moves to electronics—seemingly a radical departure, but his experience as a double bassist provides a continuity of sensibility and grounds his choices vis-à-vis Cancoin’s playing throughout the recording.

The four tracks presented here seem to take the relationship between sounds within the flow of time as somehow paralleling the relationship of images in short-term and long-term memory. Cancoin and Phillipp’s sonic image of memory isn’t as a passive archive storing the frozen images of past events but instead is a plastic faculty whose contents are subject to change. Concretely this comes out in Phillipp’s capture and reworking of Cancoin’s tapped, plucked, bowed, strummed and hammered sounds. These sounds undergo timbral mutation, fragmentation, reversal and repetition; figures are switched around and put in places they never originally occupied, appearing and reappearing in different guises. Phillipp wrenches real-time acoustic sounds out of their original contexts in order to create new contexts for them and of them, while Cancoin actively improvises against and reinterprets these electronic recollections of his now-past playing. As within his performances with the exquisite Quatuor BRAC, Cancoin’s presence here is one of uncluttered concrete materiality, while Phillipp’s part is to provide the organic force shaping the duo’s overall, essentially unitary sound.

Daniel Barbiero