Julien Bayle | Violent Grains of Silence
Elli Records (MC/CD/DL)
John Cage’s famous observation on the impossibility of silence has been explored by numerous artists. “There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear. In fact, try as we may to make a silence, we cannot.” This conclusion came as a result of Cage’s experiences working in an anechoic chamber, a specially designed room with zero reverberations, and therefore completely silent. But as Cage noticed, his heartbeat, breath and even the blood running through his body intruded the silence.
Julien Bayle’s new work, Violent Grains of Silence investigates his own inner silence, this time experienced within the confines of the anechoic room at the Mechanical & Acoustic Research Lab at CNRS in France. During his stay as an artist in residency at the facility, Bayle recorded two hours of non-silence in the room, the recording equipment itself being the provider of noises via wires and electrical parts. These tiny sounds became the basis of his project, the slices and grains fed into his system and processed into this album.
“Dens” kicks off proceedings, and is a low-end speaker-shaker that picks up steam and adds phasing noise to its layers before sputtering out. “sur_” wobbles and ripples with waves of fine distortion disrupting its flow. “phas” sounds like a million voices echoing through the stereo field before being absorbed by fizzing static. Other tracks are more abrasive, like the crunchy “disr” that bristles with kinetic energy. This energy appears throughout this collection, modulating feedback and pure electricity into droning or rhythmic pieces.
“unpr” sounds like clanging sheets of metal processed by endless comb filters, whereas “post_” is more angular, with glitched-out tones that extend in long lines from an awkwardly spinning core. Final track, “satu” closes the collection with the sound of raw electricity, like a flickering florescent light in a cavernous room, spitting out electromagnetic pulses and photons.
Each track is short and to the point, a concise exercise in manipulating the illusion of silence into a suite of vignettes. Bayle’s work here succeeds in crafting a wide range of output from the most minimal, almost imperceptible of audio input. No such thing as silence, indeed.