Gianluca Favaron‘s albums – and the compositions within each album – eschew verses and choruses in favor of sonic arcs. The black and white photographs of Stefano Gentile are a natural inspiration for this sort of music, suggestive and abstract. A ridiculously limited (13 copies) Art Edition brings the point home with a hand painted cover, photo print and lathe cut disc, but even the standard edition contains images of the 16 photographs. Entretien means maintenance in French, but it can also mean conversation or negotiation, the latter definitions more applicable in the current set.
Favaron is known for his field recordings and drones, and both are on display here, incorporated into a quartet of sound pieces. Entretien is one of his thicker works, the antithesis of the recent forget about any non-gray. It’s as if there are two sides to his persona: the micro-sound and the maxi. If one had the equipment to play all seven tracks of the earlier work at once, it might sound like the current release, the freeway of the final track on non-gray integrated into the opening cut of Entretien. While precision may seem lost in layering, it is offset by a gain in listener excitement. Instead of focusing on one or two sounds at a time, the ear in drawn in multiple directions at once.
While prior works have sounded like laboratories in full shift, Entretien has the tone of a mechanized factory, where rustles and beeps settle into patterns and loops. These form the basis of the recordings, but whenever they drop out (for example, 4:06 of the opening track), the contrast between the organic and the electronic is revealed. At the very end of “I”, a percussive sound like that of a nail gun turns out to be a segment of prepared vinyl, while a short non-verbal utterance turns out to be a loop. The vinyl pop reappears at the start of “II,” acting as the shiest possible click track; but soon, other beats take up the cause, burying the poor click in beats and beeps. On “IV”, the opposite effect occurs; the human ear is trained to zero in on the sound of upset children, and although these occupy a minor space in a busy composition, they cut through all of the layers to come to the fore.
It’s hard to discern where the musical input of Gentile can be found, although one suspects that it is present in the guitar of “III”, which sounds the most like the work of Under the Snow, the project he also shares with Favaron. As the founder of the Silentes label and its offshoots, Gentile’s interest is in more than just music; he’s concerned with the eyes as well as the ears. Entretien is an obvious labor of love, a negotiation between photograph and field recording, shade and sound. Neither dominates the discussion; the conversation is the focus, and it’s a good one. (Richard Allen)