“Studies I-XVII for Samplers and Percussion” is the debut collaborative LP by Rupert Clervaux and Beatrice Dillon, a minimal but diverse record taking in influences from techno, experimental music, ethnographic music, improvisation, electronic music, and field recordings. This collection of short, intuitive rhythm pieces was made sporadically over a period of ten months in 2013.
A shared love of repetitive music is immediately apparent, from the transcontinental axis of electronic music that connects London, Berlin, and Detroit, stretching back to the experimental and minimalist composers of the ’60s; Xenakis’s Psappha, Reich’s Four Organs, and Pierre Schaeffer’s Etude Aux Objets all crop up in the preambles and debriefs that bookended recording sessions.
Equally important here, though, are Dillon and Clervaux‘s more personalized respective interests in ethnic and world music (see Dillon’s 2014 Folkways II compilation for The Trilogy Tapes) and free jazz and improvisation (see Clervaux’s mixing and mastering credits for labels like Treader, OTOroku, Matchless, and Fataka). Add to these some more incidental discussions of, for instance, the Morning Ragas of Bismillah Khan, or 2010s releases by Untold, and you begin to get an idea of the varied listening syllabus behind this record. Recurrent methods naturally took shape; the sampler is used throughout as a digital mirror of the instrument being manually played (notably with the balafons of “I” and the vibraslap of “VIII”), triggered samples and played instruments engage in brashly improvised duets (“VI” and “XII”), and unpredictable, contextual sounds are allowed into the compositions, such as the muffled kick drum from the studio next door, the random squeak of a malfunctioning fire alarm in the hallway (“VII”), or the buzzing resonance of a snare drum at the back of the room (“VIII”). And by seeking to avoid making stylized cribs of any of their many influences, the music has the room to be both serious and, even in its more avant-garde inclinations, humorous at the same time (“X” and “XVI”) — it welcomes physical, emotional, and cerebral responses. Perhaps the only universal rule was the time spent on each Study; anything that didn’t immediately work, or seemed to call too strongly for further embellishment, was summarily scrapped. And those that remain appear here in chronological order.
Recommended if you like The Durian Brothers, Harmonious Thelonious, Moondog, Konono No.1, Morphosis, Tod Dockstader, Burnt Friedman, Folkways Records, etc. Includes download code.
Snow Dog Records