MYSTERY SEA 45 | Mathias Delplanque | [L'inondation]


click to enlarge front click to enlarge back


-"In June 2005, I created a sound installation for the VKS Gallery in Toulouse. All the sounds used in this piece were recorded in the basement of my apartment building in Nantes: pipe sounds, electrical buzzes, neons, draughts, reverberation, air pipes, ventilating fans, etc. This piece was presented in the basement of the gallery, a dark vaulted cellar at the bottom of steep narrow stairs. The sound was diffused – very loud – on a multichannel system, through four loudspeakers set in each corner. A woofer was set in the centre of the room. It took a few minutes to get used to the darkness. My father left my mother that summer. My son Sol was born on the 16th Feb. 2006. The basement in my parents’ house was flooded during a big storm. Ten inches of water got the best of all the paintings and drawings from my late teens that I had kept stored there for years. Nothing was left but shapeless heaps of ashenlike material. Nothing was visible anymore, but I was able to save a few pieces set at the top. I stored it all in plastic waterproof boxes, except a few pieces I took back home with me. Some objects, drawings and a small painting of a face – untitled and undated (probably made around 1991). I didn’t like that painting back then and had left it unfinished. Now, it’s hanging in the corridor of my flat. The material presented on this CD is a stereo version of the piece presented at the VKS Gallery in June 2005."

- Mathias Delplanque , January 2008


Burkinabese/French sound artist Mathias Delplanque is an accomplished musician who has classical music studies in his rich pedigree, as well as a grade at the Ecole Nationale d'Arts de Cergy Pontoise & a master's degree in aesthetics (Paris I university)...
Multifaceted, Mathias has many strings on his bow, using different identities to explore different paths... LENA sees him deal with contemporary dub forms, while in BIDLO, he navigates at the fringes of electronica... He has also done numerous collaborations with various musicians (Black Sifichi, Ghislain Poirier, Charlélie Couture, etc...) and released 2 albums (Zeropolis, Hidden Doors) with THE MISSING ENSEMBLE (John Sellekaers, Daniel De Los Santos) where he took part into the conception of hallucinogenic hybrid pieces mainly dealing with the dark corners of our derelicted cities...Under his own name, Mathias composes soundscapes of a more concrete, or experimental-ambient nature (“Ma chambre Quand je N'y Suis Pas [Montréal] on Mondes Elliptiques, “La Plinthe” imminent on Optical Sound) or conceives works meant for galleries or art centers (specific installations)...
so far, he has collected many rewards, and has made some artist residencies in France, Canada, and India...

His MS contribution, is a piece aptly named “L'inondation” which was first presented at the VKS gallery in Toulouse during 2005...all sounds are drifted from the basement of his apartment building in Nantes...

In an enclosed space
where all lights are low
we skip over a dark surface
seeping into the walls
brushed by their reverberations
We learn to listen
to new nocturnal chants,
the constant flickering of lamps,
the tiny deflagrations,
the microfluxes of electricity,
the surrounding moistness,
and memories drip,
dragging us back to their inception...
L'inondation” is about letting ourselves overcome with,
a submersion of the senses,
celebration of the underlying...


01. L'inondation




VITAL WEEKLY 622|Frans De Waard
Some people use various artist names, but then some of them do manage to sound the same throughout. There is also somebody like Mathias Deplanque who various incarnations manage to sound very differently. There is the dub of Lena, the glitch of Bidlo and the electronics of The Missing Ensemble. Under his own name Delplanque does the 'serious work', dealing with field recordings and such like such as his great, delicate work 'Ma Chambre Quand Je N'y Suis Pas', dealing with sound of empty spaces (see Vital Weekly 539). He lives in Nantes and down in his basement is where he taped all the sounds for 'L'Inondation', which first presented as a sound installation in 2005. The sounds are, probably, heavily processed affairs of low humming vibrations and on top various sorts of machinery, with soft, breaking sounds. Perhaps I'm all wrong. Perhaps it's the radiator sounds, insects and cars passing in the background. The forty-seven minute piece is best seen as a piece of ambient music- music derived from the ambient, using the space as a resonator and to play his sound. The low mechanical humming is best played at a lower volume, so that it incorporates your living area perfectly. I can imagine if you play this at full volume, the music will be too industrial. At home, a quiet home, the soft sounds from outside will match Delplanque's perfectly, providing a lower volume.
vital weekly

This tendency to dote on the sea, would it be owing to metaphor or metamorphosis? The latter is infinitely compelling, but then there is that transfixing tale, recounted by Emil Cioran, of the sea as consisting of God's tears. Hence our desire to drown in it, as a short-cut to God through His tears. In any case, Mystery Sea, and its entire catalogue thus far, appears altogether devoted to its enigma.
Substrate, though spawned from a number of sound sources, is ultimately the sound of the movement of fluids, balanced yet brimming with tension and friction. Onodera continually camouflages the electricity within the flow of a swift pointillism and a Lucier-like harmonic drift, itself a sort of expulsion of breath, redolent of deep weariness and shedding of emotion. The work consists of eight pieces that, without ever quite touching or bumping into each other as though by accident, quite effortlessly roll and intertwine - in short, they link up without fusing or showing much concern for contact. The pieces charm for this birthright, this seemingly natural ability to maintain this magnetic distance and rapport of form. Everything is highly conventional and highly regulated. And while this means surprises may well be few and far between, the opportunity to observe and vanish into the proceedings is more than ample recompense. Asides from this, the basic force of these pieces stems not from their accumulation of elements, but from their subtraction. A sort of classicism may be seen here. There's nothing flabby about these pieces, nothing ungainly. They move away from their moorings, leaving fewer and fewer traces, ascending into higher, dreamier atmospheres, as though out of concupiscence for the sky. When a tinkling of water reappears at the end, it's as though one has come full circle, its second occurrence signaling the end of the first. Where Substrate travels among the stars themselves, l'Inondation simply charts its course by them. Mathias Delplanque's recording is steeped in darkness - that of the basement in his apartment building in Nantes, to be exact. In this place, pipe sounds, electrical buzzes, ventillation fans and the like follow a trajectory that recurs time and again, marking time and opening up a space out of which events swell and recede. Originally a sound installation for the VKS Gallery in Toulouse, the piece slumbered in that buildings basement, a dark cellar at the foot of a long, narrow staircase. Perhaps understandably it achieves its best effect when lodged in a close approximation to just such a setting. In this environment, everything bristles with age, deep lines, contours, colors - in brief, a rich decay that overflows at a constant yet slow, almost imperceptible manner. The rarefied minutiae of Delplanque's sounds exist in a state of structural tension against the relentless onwards motion of duration. This ferrets out a fizzing and crackling that is at first apparent despite itself, but that eventually seem to strategically seep more and more into the backdrop, imbuing the piece with a sense of the inevitability of collapse.

WHITE_LINE | Baz Nichols  
"...Next we have another Frenchman, Mathias Delplanque, whose works under various pseudonyms and project names see this multi-faceted artist exploring a range of territories, that encompass both his classical training, and more experimental, and marginal sides. Here on L’inondation, we see exhibited a mastery of dark atmospherics, and I mean dark in the sense of densely populated, rich textural pieces, rather than the doom-laden affairs perpetuated by the dark ambient school. Essentially, this is a recording of an installation piece that took place at the VKS gallery in Toulouse in 2005, a dimly lit space, where Delplanque’s shimmering atmospherics resonated the very fabric of the building, a powerfully evocative piece that is rich and reverberant at it’s core, with various activities booming around the sonic spectrum,, odd incidents and occurrences, curious knockings and drippings that draw us into a mysterious and somewhat intriguing [if slightly unsettling] world.

TOKAFI |Tobias Fischer  
On his third solo album, Mathias Delplanque reminds us that composing drones can be a lot of fun if you treat the process like gardening: Planting tonal seed on fertile ground, feeding them with creative manure, harmonic water and notational nutritions, protecting them from winds of distortion, rhythmic heat and the biting cold of stasis and watching them gradually grow into mysteriously beckoning sonic gardens, rich in resonance and with ripe aural fruit hanging from finely detailed branches.
This approach also implies that everything is a big experiment. On “L’inondation”, Delplanque uses the first of 47 minutes, originally commissioned for the VKS Gallery in Toulouse in 2005, to present his material : ominous sheets of grey hiss, discreet planes of white noise, distant rumblings, close-up clicks, metallic resonances and airy breaths, familiar sounds and foreign semblances make for a bizarre and bipolar opening, marking time and floating freely.
Then, however, as if a mute bullet had escaped the muzzle of a silent starter’s gun, the elements start moving in a mitotic ballet, shifting, transforming, deforming and degenerating. A piercingly high-pitched tone buzzes like an electric razor and the background steamrollers to the fore. Noise suddenly takes on pitched qualities and harmonic movements fall apart into shards of dimly controlled din. Links are forming between disparate events and the piece goes through haunting episodes of cramp-like fever convulsions.
Gradually, the music recomposes itself, shedding its nightmarish visions and slowing down its heart rate to a feeble pulse. At the end, the track is not that different from where it started, but every element seems calm and cool now, as “L’inondation” enters a phase of relaxed resignation. Far away, industrial machines are still pounding loudly, as if brutally breaking bodacious boulders into tiny fragments of stone, but they, too, disappear into silence, leaving the listener in a closely circumfined space of subtle sounds, all within his immediate proximity.
Delplanque has used recordings from the basement of his home as source material. Some of them are still recognizable as such, others have mutated into gargantuan proportions. Just as on “Ma chambre quand je n’y suis pas”, it doesn’t matter where exactly these noises came from, but what happens to them when the composer lets go. It’s an approach derived from one of gardening’s most essential lessons: You can feed a plant with water, but you can’t make it grow.

If my reading of the press statement is correct then at least the bare bones (if not the entirety) of this remarkable album consists of a recording (or recordings) made from sounds filtering up from the lower floors of Delplanque's apartment building. L'inondation consists of all those sounds that are so exotic and disturbing in a 'silent' house - drips, hisses, clangs & taps. Sounds that are both amorphous and mundane. For Delplanque they are the building blocks from which he creates his soundworld. As you'd expect from that premise there isn't huge scope of material to be had but those sounds that are available are used to their utmost and to spellbinding effect.
wonderful wooden reasons

FEARDROP|Denis Boyer  
Tout comme le peintre sait combien il est difficile de figurer le mouvement par l’immobile, certains musiciens minimalistes savent combien il est difficile de jouer l’immobilité avec ce qu’on ne peut arrêter. C’est peut-être ce point qui fera comprendre un jour la musique par un plus grand nombre comme un art de l’image. Arrêter le court du son, son déroulement ontologique dans l’espace et dans le temps, nul n’y est tenu, car nul n’est tenu à l’impossible. Mais l’artiste est souvent un tricheur, qui tente de donner le change. Mathias Delplanque, qui sait distribuer les brillances en musique (Lena), a aussi sa face obscure, ses replis ténébreux. Au plus profond de certains d’entre eux, il tente la prouesse que nous avons décrite. Dans L’inondation par exemple (comme naguère dans la formation Missing Ensemble), il plonge dans un goudron filandreux, une nuit de souffle brumeux et de cliquetis rouillés. Une pulsation rare, peut-être marquant la corrosion, le poinçonne plus qu’elle ne le rythme. Car le temps n’a plus le jour avec lui pour marquer l’alternance. Seule la nuit règne ici. On devine les formes qu’elle caparaçonne, on se fie à leur bruit avant tout et ce n’est que juste dans cette sphère souterraine. Atelier soumis à la rotation, le disque est le lent balancier de sa propre période. Il suinte comme les caves humides et c’est peut-être finalement le seul signe qui le fait échapper à sa parfaite immobilité.

Like many artists operating in this area, Mathias Delplanque (of France and Burkina Faso roots) uses different names according to the fields investigated. In this occasion he chose to remain visible, having fathered a 47-minute piece that doesn't actually put forward new crucial answers in the shadowy world of rumbles, roars, cavernous rivers and remote echoes but, overall, sounds quite impressive to these ears. In case it wasn't noticed, you just read the ordinary modus operandi for this kind of submission; yet I did welcome "L'inondation", as the reviewer's objectiveness still manages to prevail on the urge of throwing everything away when the building blocks employed are too comfortable for factual improvement. What the composer features as a winning card is called "sound placement": Delplanque is a man who has studied music seriously, and it shows. The imposing growth of those waves from the underground provides a feel of cataleptic bliss meshed with a sense of ineluctability disclosing a noticeable quantity of compositional awareness, usually not likely to be found in these regions. Also to be valued are the manifest contrasts between the domineering accumulation of aquatic frequencies and hissing fumes, and the high-frequency emissions approximating bionic crickets that emerge from the mix. In short, this is a classic example of non-pioneering but brilliantly conceived record deserving a dutiful analysis to individuate its strong points. There are several.
touching extremes

MUSIQUE MACHINE | Martijn Busink  
Rated : 4 stars out of 5
Music for installations is not seldom more experience rather than music. Listened with full attention it might appear a bit dull, but as an ambiance—a mood—it can work quite well.
L'inondation is no different, the hoarse subsonic rumblings take the full playing time to change shape. By the end of the forty five minutes you realize the sub bass has gone and you moved from a dungeon into something that seems more like the jungle. The initial heavy atmosphere felt like a descent into a dark cave or tunnel. A dark ambient mood, with a slow but steady pace and various rumblings that suggest mysterious activities in the dark. You find yourself surrounded by these deep meditative sounds, while there's an electronic hiss that tickles the eardrums and has an interesting effect when you move your head. This hiss, transplanted from the context of the dungeon into the jungle, changed into what seems the 'insect electronica' of SE Asia.
Even though the original multi-channel piece has been mixed down to stereo, I think that L'inondation is as ominous and spacious as possible on only two channels, by a keen use of frequencies. Spooky but also strangely soothing, L'inondation, makes an excellent drone piece to play preferably at night
musique machine

>>> back to the Reviews index