Alexandre Babel & Latifa Echakhch - The Concert
When Latifa Echakhch was tuning the concept for her presentation at the Swiss Pavilion during the 59th Venice Art Biennale, she wondered how it might be possible to alter her visitors’ perception of time. She invited Berlin-based drummer and composer Alexandre Babel to come up with a response to her silent exhibition, held inside a striking multi-room building designed by Bruno Giacometti and originally intended for the display of classical art. Babel assembled field recordings captured at the Pavilion alongside pre-recorded viola, contrabass, flute and percussion sounds contributed by Jon Heilbronn, Rebecca Lenton, Theo Nabicht and Nikolaus Schlierf, combined to construct an immersive slow-creep of detailed micro-sounds designed to gradually alter your temporal and spatial bearings.Opening with echoing footsteps over a discomposing whirr of modern machinery, our attention is drawn to the physical space and the natural rhythm of walking. Pinprick clicks add an extra layer of microscopic grist, as water droplets form an incoherent pulse that eventually turn to woodblock clacks and toms. Resembling the innards of a clockmaker’s workshop as though heard from the central hall of a vast gallery space; Babel’s rhythms are so finely drawn that they’re hard to grasp at first blush, demanding multiple listens in order to fully comprehend their abstruse latticing.Spray can blasts and white noise bursts dance in tandem, ushering in low-end rumbles that cautiously mutate into the album’s central segment, where a bass drum slowly ushers in a pressure shift. It’s at this point where the music begins to fully betray its influences, linking the freeform heartbeat-led expression of Milford Graves and his under-sung student Jake Meginsky with crys cole’s lower-case sonic journeying. When more traditional instrumentation rings out from the rafters, it’s to reinforce the piece’s rhythmic thrust, not drown it out with buttoned-up respectability. At its peak “The Concert” sounds lost between genre and temporality, both electronic and astonishingly biotic. It’s the rare site-specific installation piece that truly meets its brief, forcing listeners to consider not just the three-dimensional space it’s responding to, but also the constant rhythms that surround them in day to day life.
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