Yvan Etienne | Twist
In an edition of three-hundred here is the sophomore effort by French artist/activist Yvan Etienne. Twist is quite welcome as we haven’t heard from him since 2014’s Feu which was a great debut, also on Aposiopèse who have been quietly putting out minimal sounds for nearly fifteen years now. There are two long tracks here, so let’s get right to it.
From the outset it’s a textural affair, one of granular microsound and distant tone. The open mic is quite fresh, clear as it drags and burrows through a ground of hiss and light crackling. The first pregnant pause is stultifying but leads to an airy adjacent passage. Cinq réflectances inversées presents observations in staring into a mirror way too long (?) or the sense of stasis when one is at zero gravity knowing that might change at any given moment. Etienne manages to fluidly switch between left and right channels to keep your attention between vignettes.
There’s a lot to contemplate about this modest composition in tonal slide and play on lightness. The blunt rise and fall of hum dips and writhes as heavy metal (not the genre) is toyed with. Everything induces a sense of slowness, until the clang of metallic objects enters the fray – suddenly there’s a sense of upheaval like a prisoner squirming in shackles. Obviously this is broken into five parts, that accounts for the quiet lulls, and each tells its own story. The last of these catches the listener in a moderate rainfall, with a sonar or scanner of some sort buzzing as it surveills the area. There’s a Orwellian sensibility embedded herein.
L’énergie du non starts with a singular high pitch tone, that sounds as if it has been split down the middle. It grows in voluminosity and scope, spreading far and wide with various high and low tendrils of modulation. This shifts and winds, and continues for nearly six minutes – which is alarming. Once it dies out there is a lull, and a lower and more gravelly buzz begins and peters rather quickly only to linger in the background. Is this some sort of force field being tested (?), am I being told to beware/stay out (?), or have I landed in some transitory space where various transmissions are yet un-encoded.
This low grade yet seemingly robust under-the-surface energy is supposedly of ‘not‘ though there lies the tension. It’s what you can’t see, but only imagine, that will have you conjuring any number of questionable entities. Fortunately about midway this becomes an homage to old school microsound clicks and hiss. And with each rotation this literally begins to swirl with a windy effect that brings the static energy into the center. The end is a mix of field recordings of stacking and cracking wood, of rain slick streets and a hi-tone that separates the real world from that which is just beyond our immediate scope.