released: 15th October 2004

« For degreadable music : the CDR I will never release : », by Julien Ottavi

The CDR has a different status from a regular CD, a status which makes the creation of a CDR label quite paradoxical. The regular CD proposes something fixed and lasting and its sale is based on these elements. On the other hand, the CDR represents both an intermediate state and an objet of transition : the information engraved on it is destined to be rendered, at a certain point in time, to its virtual state of digital composition interpretable by a computer. From CD to CDR, we move from a practice of conserving finalised products to a practice of stocking or transmitting transitory products (and this way of using the CDR is most obvious in the practice of pirating). The CDR is an extension of the computer, developing a circulation mode that is similar to the Internet, but outside the virtual net. The nature of the CDR implies another relation to time and to the process of creation. In this sense it seems contradictory to consider a CDR as a finalized product.
With the CDR as with the sound pieces on the internet we seem to enter in a new field and manner of developing and showing artistic practice: not only showing finalised propositions but also the different stages of the artistic creation. The CDR and the Internet become a tool in a process of experimentation and not only means of conservation.
This social use of the CDR as a transitory objet is a reflection of it's material structure : the CDR has a short life span as a physical objet, therefore the recorded sound is destinated to deteriorate.
When Mattin proposed to me to produce a sound piece for his CDR label, I started thinking of the specificity of the CDR medium and wanted to hijack his proposition. The question was : how to render in sound the nature of the CDR, i.e., how to make a transitory sound form and at the same time propose a reflection on this form ? How can the sound content act on the CDR itself as a material structure ? This reflection was linked to work I started some time ago, of hand-engraving or pouring acid on the material support of the CD and see how it would act on the recorded sound. But these attempts mainly focused on the material aspect of the CDR and neglected the sound. So I began thinking about the sound content again and I realised that when you engrave a CDR on your computer and keep it for a while, the first things to disappear, soundwise, when it deteriorates, are the very high and very low frequencies. This is why this sound piece is only composed of extreme frequencies, at the limit of what man can hear and of what the machine can reproduce. The result is that the sound piece acts not only on the material structure of the CDR but also on the material environnement of the listener's body. The sound piece on this CDR is at the limits of the audible.
This sound piece was realised under GNU/Linux operating system with free audio software as Ardour, Jack, Rezound, Audacity, Puredata. For degreadable music : the CDR I will never release: », by Julien Ottavi


Links: apo33 , Sigma Editions


empty (france)

Apart from me being doubtful that when a CDR deteriorates, the upper
and lower spectrum of sound will disappear (which definitely seems a
characteristic of analogue media), I find this release amazing and I
didn’t even have to write a review since quoting the liner notes
as I did would’ve been enough. The sound is like Hecker finally
finding his own path out of Mego’s classics and the concept is
(as usual with Mattin) absolutely stunning. Headphones mandatory
ones please).

number 449
week 47

Guitarplayer Julien Ottavi is alike Mattin, a radical mind when it comes to using computers and music. The text of this CDR rambles about CDRs, computer and the disappearance of sound information, when storing sound on a computer. Apperentely the high and low frequencies get lost, so all of the music on 'The CDR I Will Never Release' is based on the more extreme frequencies of sound. Be carefull cranking up the volume, even when things seem to be at a very low volume. But that sometimes spoils the fun of listening. I can imagine that in a concert situation this music would work really well, providing the sound system is great. But at home one is struggling with setting the volume right all the time, to make it sound right in the best possible way, even when the bigger part of this release moves in similar volumes. Extreme noise music, which, oddly enough isn't really loud per se. Fascinating music, if just for the concept.

Paris Transatlantic (Jan.2005)

Mattin's w.m.o/r label continues its uncompromising journey along the fringes of sound art where ultra loud and ultra quiet find common ground with this 65 minute composition by Nantes-based sound artist Julien Ottavi (of Formanex fame). Using only extreme low and high frequencies, Ottavi's work is based on the premise that sound recorded on CDR (as opposed to commercially produced CDs) is destined to deteriorate. So is your health, I imagine, if you have a sound system powerful enough to play this one loud: the low-end frequencies gradually induce a feeling of unease and claustrophobia verging on nausea. By the time the thing fizzes into life after the 54-minute mark, you're ready to acknowledge defeat, if you're not already lying on the floor in a pool of vomit. As anyone familiar with this publication will know, we're hardly in the business of covering Britney Spears here, and the idea that music always has to be trivial poppy fluff is about a million miles wide of the target, but, call me old fashioned, I like to find something in the music to enjoy, or at least respect, and with Ottavi's offering, it's hard. Elio Martusciello's Aesthetics Of The Machine last year on Bowindo explored similar avenues of extreme registers, but somehow came off as more musical. For Degradable Music is another example of a project where the realisation of the concept is nowhere near as interesting as the concept itself.—DW

Autsaider issue 5 (Ukrania)

Film director Jean Luc Godard once said, "I don't think you should feel about a movie. You should feel about a woman. You can't kiss a movie."

In 2004 sound artist Julien Ottavi released a defective CD-R suicidally titled “The CD-R I Will Never Release.” The content of Ottavi’s disc is a good pretext for us to once again vainly reflect upon the sensual and non-sensual – this time in music.

The surface of the CD-R’s side, which sound is recorded on, is either scratched with abrasive paper, or spattered with acid.

When playing back the disc, headphones on, the listener leaves the everyday world overwhelmed with sounds and submerges into a much depleted sonic environment. Instead of listening to birds pleasantly singing outside or cookware clanging, or kitschy patriotic chants from the kitchen radio, or the truly avant-garde polyphony of an apartment block’s waterworks, or, at least, Ottavi’s peer, Dion Workman’s album “Ching” (Antiopic, 2003), which can somehow substitute for birds singing, dogs barking, and water pipes whining, instead of all this rich variety, we are offered to deeply listen to lazy automatic low-frequency pulsing of sound, during 50 minutes, pulsing that at a moment slows down, at another accelerates, and to finish it by listening, during 10 minutes, to the way some rough rattling surges and firms up, seemingly caused by defects on the disc… As it can be expected after the 50-minute sub-bass sound “fasting”, all these jerks, clacks and breaks that we can hear in the end, start to sound almost like a banquet of compositional complexity and unpredictability.

In the booklet that comes with the CD-R, Ottavi uses the word combination “sound piece” instead of “music”. However, we should not concern ourselves with selection of terms. Boundaries between what “may” be referred to as “music”, and what “may not”, have already been washed away a long time ago...

No, the question at issue is not music, but automatism and its relation to sensuality.

The case is such that well-run automatism as music is terribly boring. The existing pop music, either guitar-based, or electronic, is all grounded on this well-run automatism. Positioning itself as humane music, it is not sensual at all.

A poorly-run, defective automatism is a different story. This automatism attracts the listener tired of “humane” music and of the emotions imposed by it. The sound flow damaged by glitches is far from being “humane”, but high-quality crackling and crashing simply overwhelms with sonic sensuality. Noise goes bald-headed and completely drags in the grateful listener.

The sounds which Julien Ottavi has recorded can hardly be placed in this (intently simplified) picture. On one hand, there’s no pretension to automatic “humaneness,” on the other, it lacks exciting brokenness, frayedness (except for the ending part). These sounds are too dosed, they smell of a recipe, and they stay motionless too long, yet not long enough to mesmerize.

This inhumaneness is too sterile and pedantic, and too unobtrusive to muffle humane thoughts in a human head.

Andrij Orel

Кінорежисер Жан-Люк Ґодар якось сказав: “Я не вважаю, що фільм повинен викликати які-небудь почуття. Почуття повинна викликати жінка. Ти не можеш поцілувати фільм!”

У 2004 році саунд-художник Жульєн Оттаві випустив у світ дефективну “болванку” з загадково-самовбивчою назвою “CD-R, який я ніколи не випущу”. Вміст диску Оттаві дає нам ще одну нагоду всує помислити про чуттєве й нечуттєве – цього разу в музиці.

З тої сторони, де записаний звук, поверхня “болванки” чи то подряпана наждаком, чи то побризкана кислотою.

Заводячи цей диск і вдягаючи навушники, слухач покидає насичений звуками повсякденний світ і занурюється у значно збіднений акустичний простір. Замість того, щоби слухати приємне для вуха цвірінькання пташок надворі, або дзвякання кухонного посуду та кітчеві патріотичні співи з радіо-“брехунця”, або воістину авангардову поліфонію системи водопостачання багатоповерхового житлового будинку (або, в гіршому випадку, альбом Жульєнового колеги Діона Воркмена (Dion Workman, “Ching” (2003)), який так-сяк здатен замінити співаючих пташок, гавкаючих собак і ниючі водні труби), – замість цього всього розмаїття нам пропонується протягом 50 хвилин вслуховуватись у ледачі автоматичні пульсації наднизьких частот звуку – пульсації, які то сповільнюються, то пришвидшуються – а після того ще 10 хвилин дослуховувати, як поступово наростає та ущільнюється неприємний для вуха різкий тріск, який, схоже, викликаний дефектами на поверхні диску... Як і слід було очікувати, після 50-хвилинного суб-басового звукового “посту”, всі ці сухі стрибки, скрипи та розриви, які ми чуємо в фіналі, починають здаватися нам ледь не бенкетом композиційної складності та непередбачуваності.

В буклеті, доданому до “болванки”, Оттаві замість слова “музика” застосовує словосполучення “звуковий твір” (sound piece). Але вибір термінів нас не повинен зачіпати. Грані між тим, що “можна” називати “музикою”, а що – “не можна”, і так уже давно розмились...

Ні, проблема тут, мабуть, не в “музичності”, а радше в автоматизмі, та його зв’язку з чуттєвістю.

Справа в тім, що налагоджений автоматизм в якості музики – страшно нудний. Саме на налагодженому автоматизмі (електронному або гітарному) базується існуюча поп-музика. Видаючи себе за “людяну” музику, вона є, тим не менш, абсолютно нечуттєвою.

Зовсім інша справа – неналагоджений, дефективний автоматизм. Цей автоматизм приваблює слухача, втомленого від “людяної” музики та нав’язуваних нею емоцій. Покалічений глітчами шумовий потік далекий від “людяності”, зате звукової чуттєвості в доброякісному тріскові та гуркоті – хоч віднімай. Нойз пре напролом, і затягує вдячного слухача з головою у свій вир.

Звуки, які записав Жульєн Оттаві, якось важко розмістити у цій (свідомо спрощеній) картинці. З одного боку, жодної претензії на автоматичну “людяність”. З іншого – не вистачає і захопливої поламаності, подертості (за винятком, хіба що, фіналу). Надто дозовані ці звуки. Надто пахнуть рецептом. Довго-довго вони не зрушають з місця – проте недостатньо довго, щоб увести в гіпноз.

Надто стерильно-педантична ця нелюдяність, надто ненав’язлива, щоб заглушити людяні думки в людській голові.

Андрій Орел

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