Frédéric Nogray‘s Vaccabons Et Malfactours concludes the third season of the La Rivière project, based on Cédric Peyronnet’s recordings of the Taurion River. Peyronnet’s sound mapping took three years to complete, and was first presented on kdi dctb 146 [e] (Gruenrekorder, 2010). In the ensuing three years, 18 artists have offered their own takes on the source material. Some presentations have been relatively unadorned (Nogray’s being one of them), while others have been manipulated by processing or additional sound material. 2013’s earlier contributors were Dale Lloyd, Artificial Memory Trace, Robert Curgunven, D’Incise and toy.bizarre; all are listed on the Kaon website.
At first glance, the cover image seems odd; isn’t this about a river? But of course a river is more than just a river; it’s part of an ecosystem, a web of irrigations and hydrations. The sheep need the river, as does the grass. To illustrate this point, Nogray’s entry begins and ends without liquid, focusing instead on crickets, birds, bees and the sound of distant trucks. This makes the rumble of thunder and rush of rain all the more surprising, as it seems to appear from a clear sky (1:54). But of course this recording is an impression, and toys with expectation. Peyronnet’s source material has been channeled through different ears; this is still what he heard, but no longer how he heard it. After a few minutes, one realizes that the rain is in fact the river.
A rooster crows, signaling the end of the first section. A dog pants while footsteps fall. At 5:23, a click ~ then sound stops, the piece’s only jarring moment. From this point forward, the recording becomes more active, with splashes, geese, cars, and a higher velocity of water. From 6:20 to 8:29, the landscape even seems to be burning, an aural sleight-of-hand. The mastering is incredibly crisp, even through the edits and layers. The finest segment, beginning at 10:24, is a waterfall torrent that engulfs all competition in its wake, fading only when two and a half minutes remain. At the end, all seems untouched, although this cannot be the case; the grass is growing, the animals have drunk their fill. (Richard Allen)