AMN Reviews: Ensemble Ikosikaihenagone – Volumes II – Fiction Musicale et Chorégraphique – Création pour Grand Orchestre et Corps Actants [Dark Tree Records DT-15]

Volumes II—Fiction Musicale et Chorégraphique is an ambitious, large-scale composition by the French double bassist/composer Benjamin Duboc for orchestra, voice, and physical movement. Recorded in October, 2021, the nearly forty-five minute-long piece was realized by a mixed-voice, twenty-one piece ensemble—hence its name—and three actors, including one speaker.

The composition unfolds in a long sequence of highly disparate parts, beginning with ambient noises and a spoken prelude before moving into more overtly musical passages. The orchestra commences with a sustained, droning chord marked by a slowly developing, internally unstable drift of pitches in and out of dissonances and consonances, building to a crescendo followed by a sonic void from which barely audible electronics emerge. A tolling section for bass drum and piano follows, after which the ensemble returns with a siren-like drone that devolves into all-out, free-blowing chaos. Duboc draws a wry contrast to this allusion to avant jazz by following it up with parodistic fragments of traditional-sounding muted trumpet and old dance styles. These conventionally cyclical, even old-fashioned sounding passages provide a kind of paradigmatically postmodern coda to the sound masses and abstract forms that went before.

Daniel Barbiero