Etudes pour piano & sampler
Samuel Sighicelli piano, electronics
Recorded October 6-8, 2014 by Gérard de Haro at Studios La Buissonne
Mastered by Nicolas Baillard
Produced by Marc Thouvenot & La Buissonne
Release date: February 28, 2017
Pianist Samuel Sighicelli, known to La Buissonne Label listeners as a key member of Caravaggio, presents what this album’s press release calls a “bionic piano.” More than an amalgamation of flesh, metal, and wood, it is a meta-compositional tool. Sighicelli started this project by recording improvisations at home on the piano, treating curated selections therefrom as seeds for heavily constructed pieces. From this a series of 12. Though originally intended for two loudspeakers, he reworked them for live performance using digital sampling, thus allowing him to invoke the prerecorded material via electronic keyboard.
“Signes/Course” combines elliptical motifs with splashes of cold water, string treatments, and backward glances. If such descriptions feel vague, it is only because the music is so precise, and to capture it in like manner risks limiting its interpretive possibilities. So begins a psychological character study of psychology itself. The mix of submarine signals and deserted expanse that is “Carcasse dans la neige” haunts the brain. Upon hearing it, we immediately realize we lack the necessary equipment to interpret the pattern as a message. Instead, we flounder in our need for communication: isolated, undiscerned, voiceless. Those pulses continue to echo across the waters of our conscious mind in “L’horizon comme vouloir,” even as they find purchase in the piano’s physical body.
The more these pieces evolve, the more the sampler becomes integrated into the piano itself, as if it were hybridizing with the very instrument from which it emerge. Along the way, we are exposed to sound bites of human voice (“Édifices”), sinister ruptures (“Brèches”), sacred spaces (“Monolithe”), futuristic body scans (“Départ dans le bruit neuf”), and even the lull of cricket song (“L’âge du faire”). And when the keys sing to us from within minimal clothing, as in “Dernier regard” and “Presque l’aube,” the effect is startling. It is akin to being sonically operated on to disentangle us from an incursion of microscopic entities, each wielding a knife so small that every slash is felt only in dreams.