As mass-market recordings continue to disappear, small-run editions have become the norm. But the most limited edition is an edition of one. That’s what Territoire offers with Confess. Each version is different, randomly generated from an In-sonora installation, providing endless possibilities while making the release impervious to review. The copy we received is not the copy you will receive, nor is it the copy streaming below. The first 50 sold out in minutes, the second pressing soon after that, the third … ?
While we can’t write about the composition, we can address the concept and the execution (the components and their interaction). Confess seeks to capture the mood and implications of the confessional, which can be comforting or terrifying, depending on the confessor and the penitent. While there is a tiny bit of peace to be found here (mostly in the cracks), the overall mood is foreboding. A confessional ~ typically an enclosed booth, with a tiny screen ~ is intended to strike the fear of God into the visitor, but in recent years has also inspired a fear of priests. Still the hope remains that a person might repent of their sins, confess, and receive absolution. In the Catholic church, one must go through this process in order to receive the sacrament of communion. Some ~ ironically, perhaps ~ would call it a necessary evil.
The combination of drone, organ, church bell, bass amplifier and whispered segments of the decalogue is extremely effective. It’s a continuation of the timbres Territoire has investigated in prior works, which include a love of hushed vocal fragments and drone. (Look no further than Mandorle for comparison.) As such it still seems a composed work, despite its random pedigree. After all, Territoire did need to choose the loops. The organ and bells offer a sense of holiness, scattered but not shattered by the spliced words. When drums enter, the piece turns dark and industrial ~ although in such a release, the arrival of such sounds will vary, and it’s entirely possible that some versions begin this way, then tiptoe backwards into a more sedate arena.
The piece’s primary success is that it captures a sense of mystery. While it would be easy to head in one direction or another, it chooses neither because it cannot choose. A spiritual experience cannot be predicted or tamed. No matter how many words or sounds we use, we cannot capture the Almighty. Whether silent or shouting, real or imagined, this being is beyond our ken. When one listens to the recording ~ whichever version it may be ~ one may conclude that the design is truly random, or that it has been guided by an invisible hand. (Richard Allen)