Reflet (French for reflection) began life as a CD3″ and is now a full album on Aposiopèse. It’s an experimental set in the best sense, a combination of field recordings and live instrumentation that does exactly what the title implies ~ reflect on music, sound, and performance. The primary example is the two-part title track, based on an improvisation by Etienne Rolin & friends. When an improvisation is captured on tape, it no longer seems improvised, because its form is cemented. And so one would be hard-pressed to offer a definition of improvised sound, resculpted to fit a new artist’s mold. Might such a technique be the antithesis of improv, or its mirror? Where is the line between the random and the intentional, and how many times can it be crossed before a work loses its center? Without hearing the originals, it’s hard to tell, but a recognizable soul lies beneath the surface of these works. Call it second generation improv, or karma, as unplanned notes return to the realm of the planned.
In the press release, “Écmnésie” receives attention for its doublebass and spoken text, but to these ears, the standout features are the conversation and cutlery. There’s no predicting where the ear may be drawn, and in this case, the seemingly random (the barking of a dog, the passing of a car) trumps the “performance”. The irony is that in a work such as this, every sound is intentional, transformed into performance by the nature of involvement. Did it rain during the dinner party? Let us imagine that it did, adding to the ambience. Did the ensemble hit the high notes used in “Reflet Part II”, or were they computer-generated? Would knowledge of the truth enhance or detract from the overall enjoyment? Reflet suggests that the conversation is more important than the information, and it’s hard to disagree. We now have food for thought, and an appetite for more. (Richard Allen)