AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Hugo Lioret – Pomone (2021; Kirigirisu Recordings)

What defines reality?  I know, pretty deep…right?  Does the Field Recordist define reality by going out and experiencing nature, or city life, or human interaction?  Most people, including me, would certainly answer “yes” to this.  (Apologies to those that believe we are copper tops living within the Matrix.)

But what happens once the Field Recordist commits this reality to tape?  This is where things start to break down.  Playing a tape back of birds chirping in the meadow is no longer reality.  Sure, it might be a reasonable facsimile but once the event is separated from the moment it’s happening, true reality (as we know it) fly’s out the window.

So, what’s the poor Field Recordist to do?  Or maybe the question should be, is this even important when creating a work of art?  If you adhere to the strict definition of Acousmatic music where all sounds are in play and sources be damned, then the answer is no.  What is important is that there are options of where the artist lies on the spectrum.  From the relatively raw sounds of Luc Ferrari’s soundwalk, Presque Rien to some of Natasha Barrett’s heavily processed “enhanced” views of nature…there is a wide world of sonic possibilities.  Since every music fan loves categories, maybe we should start grouping these Acousmatic creators in groups of realists vs. un-realists.  On second thought…nah, there are already enough nonsense categories out there right now.  (Cozy synth anyone?)

In the case of Hugo Lioret, maybe sometimes it’s good to handle this reality thing with a little diplomacy.  Lioret, a French native (but since relocated to The Hague NL) blurs the line between, let’s call it this second-generation “non” reality (making recordings of the natural world) …and the completely inorganic electronic processing that the Acousmatic world thrives on.

On the 30-minute piece Pomone, Lioret presents a thickly detailed sonic panorama replete with enough mood and dynamics to allow the listener to experience it on many levels.  The Natural (water, church bells, voices, and more) lives comfortably with the synthetic.  Lioret’s intent is to create a blended soundscape where the origin of the sounds, in this case the natural and the synthetic become immaterial to the listener’s perception and their desire to consciously (or even unconsciously) attempt to identify their source.

This ethos jives well with the classical definition of Acousmatic sound and Lioret does an admirable job of achieving it.  At one point, around the 5-minute mark, the sound of church bells is mixed below an airy and slightly menacing drone that succeeds in not highlighting either sound.  The overall combination melded together in a completely organic fashion and produced a beautiful sound tableau that gently sent this listener’s mind to other places.  Similar experiences with different natural/synthetic juxtapositions are scattered throughout the piece yielding equally pleasing results.

This is not to say that Pomone doesn’t amp it up into the alien sphere.  The piece has sections that provide the synthetically processed “heft” to transport the headspace to deep space- regions unknown.  Between some intense drone activity and rather aggressive electronic blasts and waves, the journey is not completely safe.  I particularly appreciated the skilled “segues” between these passages and the more “veiled” sections.  Lioret’s sound event organization talents are showcased quite well on this release.

It’s refreshing to hear a young composer within the Acousmatic space and I’m looking forward to following his flight path.  It’s obvious from this release that Hugo Lioret not only has the “ear” for this music but, additionally the skill to realize the intents behind its creation.  Pomone comes with my highest recommendation!

Mike Eisenberg
Twitter: @bigaudio999