AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Karen Vogt – Le Mans (2023; Waxing Crescent Records)

Le Mans is one of those albums that is notable for both its concept and its execution. Experimental sound artist Karen Vogt recorded snippets from the 24 Hours of Le Mans automobile race last year, then combined these with just her voice. The field recordings are cut and manipulated to the point that their source is discernable but obscured. Her singing is largely ethereal and wordless.

While such an approach could easily be gimmicky, that is not the case here. Vogt’s voice is incorporated in an unusual fashion – ambient but with oscillations and the occasional whooshing derived from the speeding cars. Vogt sings and chants, the former employing simple repeated lyrical patterns and the latter choral and haunting.

One track consists solely of Vogt’s singing recorded live during the event while another is just of the cars sounding like angry mosquitos. But the main thrust of Le Mans is the integrating of machine and human utterances, with various loops and effects. In a number of places the results are unsettling or hypnogogic, which is a reflection of the sleep deprivation that such an event would have on the participants and audience.

This is a really compelling effort from Vogt, recommended even if you are not a car person.

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