Trajet (also known as blue eighteen) is the latest transmission from Blue Tapes, which has been quietly building a name for itself over the past few years with a small batch of quality releases. Meanwhile, it’s at least the tenth release (according to Bandcamp) for Marseilles experimentalist Chemiefaserwerk, whose specialties are field recordings and tape manipulations. The label calls his latest tape “coded mantras from the day when data was magnetic and not binary.” This lends the production an air of the nostalgic, and is a fine advertisement for the physical release.
On the surface, the tape seems like a simple two-sided composition, with “Trajet A” on Side A and “Trajet B” on the flip. The two sides even begin the same way, which may prompt some listeners to double-check; after all, it’s not unheard-of for labels to accidentally record the same music on two sides of a tape. But listen further, and one will begin to glean the differences. As the album’s title means journey or route, the explanation is that Chemiefaserwerk is investigating divergent paths, à la La double vie de Véronique, and the moment of split can be discerned in the early going.
One of the most effective passages in “Trajet A” begins at 3:20, as wind whips a post and introduces heavy droplets on metal, then sheets of rain. This passage is interwoven with other field recordings, including one that sounds like a man clapping in a gymnasium; drones enter the field, giving way to rushing waters and the click of a tape player. Was it all in our heads, this journey? By the halfway point, nature has ceded its spot to drone. At 9:25 the tape falls silent, only to relaunch with brighter tones that reflect those of a tuning orchestra.
One senses the artist arranging his snippets to tell a story, listening to the story, then changing his vantage point. On Side B, he takes a few steps on the same path before choosing the road less traveled. 45 seconds in, an electronic dog shakes its wet fur. The drones are more insistent this time around. The sign rattles, but is it the same sign? The air is arid; a deep bass ensues, perhaps from a metal drum. Static crinkles, but no lightning crackles; this precipitation is saved for the very end.
On Trajet, Chemiefaserkwerk offers two equally valid visions; fortunately, listeners need not decide between the two. A complete story emerges in the convergence of truths. (Richard Allen)