Lichtung – Yves De Mey

The sound work Lichtung is the original score for a dance solo by choreographers Antoine Effroy
and Anne Rudelbach and performed by Catherine Jodoin.
The performance premiered on March 26, 2008 at Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany.
The concept of the dance performance was to begin from a unique situation and sustain this physical state as long as possible.
By adding unique and non-repetitive movements, the choreography slowly evolves, starting at the back of the stage and
gradually moving towards the front, as if by zooming inward. The sound follows this evolution or curve, not necessarily in volume,
but rather by changes in density and speed to accompany the performer’s phrase changes.

Lichtung was written and composed in Brussels, Belgium and Hamburg, Germany by Yves De Mey.
Photo: Yves De Mey, 2008.
Thank you: Anne and Antoine, Catherine, Peter Van Hoesen, Richard Chartier

Mastered by Bo Kondren at Calyx (Berlin)

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Buy it at the 12k/line shop, Boomkat,…


Written by Creaig Dunton
Sunday, 12 April 2009

Originally commissioned for a solo dance performance, the single piece on this disc not only stands on its own without any visual elements, but also showcases De Mey’s history in film school as well, because it has the dynamicism, variation, and drama of that medium as well.

The dance this was initially composed for was based upon the concept of a sustained physical state, with unique physical elements slowly added to the performance, which the sound matches perfectly.  The opening of a quiet, yet very high register digital buzz remains as the basis of the piece throughout most of its 30+ minute duration.  Clicks and glitches play a role throughout, but also serve to represent that initial sustained status.

Early on even some of the unique sounds become noticeable:  low end guitar tones occasionally arise to compliment the static, a much more dominant and forceful sound contrasted with the otherwise unobtrusive buzz.  These prominent, but still dulcet tones increase in intensity and duration, but never feel out of place.

Other nearly identifiable sounds, such as what could be looped and reversed guitar feedback become the focus, as does some distant repeated digital pinging sounds and insect like static interference that clicks and clatters away.  The static is met with another droning element, the sound of high-tension power lines on a windy day.

The piece builds up in complexity from here, the sustained elements become more prominent as the static and powerline hum gets upgraded with some consistent low end bass rumble, and the still-appearing guitar notes increase in frequency along with rhythmic fluttering textures, like the sound of digital hummingbirds circling the area as the sound swells, and then pulls away to a more spacious mix.

At this point the melodic elements disappear, leaving the remnants of pulses and electric swells to become the focus, as more subtle pings and watery blasts of static come back in, dissolving into erratic, reverb-encased clicks.  A lower frequency melody eventually appears, along with some deep, dark bass synth like notes and a slowly spreading menacing drone.  Finally, this drone is the only thing that remains, a slow and distant rumble that subtly ends the piece.

The variation on this single piece is almost dizzying, as just when it seems to lock into a consistent set of sounds, something new and different comes in and upsets the balance, but in a good way.  I first played this while doing other (non-music related) activities and rather than fading into the background and just acting on the subconscious level, I caught myself not being able to aim my attention away, which rarely happens with music of this ilk.  The amount of variation in this one piece is fascinating, I just wish there would have been an inclusion of the dance performance for comparison purposes.

Lichtung captures the experimental sound score for a dance solo performed by Catherine Jodoin and choreographed by Antoine Effroy & Anne Rudelbach. A year on from the piece’s premiere at Kampnagel in Hamburg, the dependably brilliant Line label releases the audio, as conceived by Brussels-based electronic artist Yves De Mey. The thirty-five minute composition begins with a quiet high frequency drone, but within just a couple of minutes the austere hiss opens up to reveal a less elusive sound characterised by channels of soft noise that eventually give way to an electric guitar. Yes, this is a Line release with an electric guitar on it – surely this has to be a first? In any case, it’s by no means intrusive or gratuitous and the instrument melts nicely into De Mey’s miniaturised sonic universe, contributing subtle chord shapes and understatedly downbeat tones while whirring machine noises keep everything grounded in sonic abstraction. This spell doesn’t actually last terribly long, but it sets a precedent for the quietly emotive sound structures to come. As the piece evolves De Mey varies the density of his music nicely, detaching from any sense of linear, cumulative evolution. The result is an evocative and strangely suspenseful affair that acquires a kind of micro-industrial feel towards the end. Lichtung is an unusual release for Line in that at certain points it taps into the more restrained minimalism of the label’s early period, yet at others it’s revealingly organic and accessible. In any case it’s another top quality addition to the 12k offshoot’s catalogue.

Vital Weekly

A lot of the times the names of the artists on Line are well-known through releases elsewhere, but Yves de Mey sounds like a new name to me. He worked together with one Christoph de Boeck and Peter van Hoesen, and ’shared stage’ with Kaffe Matthews, Christian Fennesz, Alex Waterman and Bo Wiget. He works also as a sound designer and composes music for theatre, dance and performance. In that capacity he made this piece for choreographers Antoine Effroy and Anne Rudelbach, performed by Catherine Jodoin. In this piece, things deal about the ’sustain the physical state as long as possible’. Its of course hard, if not impossible to judge the dance part of this work. The music starts out soft and in a microsound tradition that belongs to this label. Nice, but nothing quite original. After about fifteen minutes, the work moves to another level, which is maybe along the lines of ambient music, with a harsher edge. De Mey uses an amount of reverb that is not that well spend on me, but here the work sounds both ambient, a bit harsh, but never losing its edge of microsound through high pitched sounds. That’s what did it for me. That also not too uncommon combination of styles, but executed with great detail and care. Great music that is fine by itself, and I can easily live without seeing the dance piece. (FdW)

Wire magazine June 2009 issue

Yves De Mey is no stranger to dance music.  As Eavesdropper, he’s created a string of worthy breakbeat records, and the clubs of his native Brussels have witnessed plenty of his dub Techno sets.  But Lichtung is something else again – the score for a piece of contemporary choreography performed by the dancer Catherine Jodoin in Hamburg last year.
The performance lasted for 35 minutes, taking the shape of a stealthy, slow-motion creep towards the audience from the back of the stage, and the music suggests a similarly protracted cinematic zoom, as De Mey gradually builds from fraught silence to dense thickets of sound.  The electronic susurrations and insectile shivers at the beginning of Lichtung offer no real surprise, but the introduction of graceful, minimal guitar lines modulates the mood nicely – they arc like brushstrokes across a grime-streaked canvas, sketching out the dancer’s halting trajectory.

Reviewed by Chris Sharp

The Silent Ballet website

Sitting down to listen to some abstract electronic works, I often find myself wondering if the piece before me could serve a function elsewhere in the world.  Probably not as background music in airport lounges, elevators or restaurants, but as part of an art installation, an interactive sound sculpture or even as material for a piece of choreography (I’ve alluded to this previously, in case anybody’s having deja vu all over again).  As if in response to my pondering, along comes Lichtung, a piece by Yves De Mey that was created for a dance solo.

Of course, now that I’m presented with a work that was specifically written for another purpose, I must approach it in pretty much the same way I do with any other work, for I have no reference to piece other than a couple of descriptive paragraphs on the label website.  Is my understanding and appreciation of the album enhanced by knowing that Lichtung was performed by Catherine Jodoin with choreography by Antoine Effroy and Anne Rudelbach, or that the performance was meant to “begin from a unique situation and sustain this physical state [for] as long as possible… adding unique and non-repetitive movements, the choreography slowly evolves”?

Well, perhaps.  The notion of the sound evolving from a static point certainly makes sense, although this still point is not obvious to the listener.  The start is textured by a plucked guitar string and contains a degree of musical activity that seems counter-intuitive to the idea of a static dancer.  When the music is still, which is roughly a quarter of the way in, the sound is incredibly dense with processed layers of noise floating in the ether.  Without the knowledge of the dance piece (and I listened in blissful ignorance the first few times and should apologise for any spoilers contained in this review), I could hear crackles of electricity, fireworks, popcorn bursting forth whilst a sub-station hummed forcefully beneath and I formed my own mental images.

But that was just interpretation – no doubt those involved in the ballet felt something quite different, as did Yves De Mey and so too will other listeners.  It is likely that exposure to the dance piece would have a major impact on one’s appreciation of Lichtung, so I am in two minds about the decision not to include a film of the work alongside the music.  On the one hand, without accompanying visuals, we are able to create pictures in our own minds and therefore the music will outlive the piece it was written for, but conversely I would like to see how somebody actually dances to this work (mind you, we’re in a field where people perform to Autechre tracks).  With no obvious rhythm or reference points beyond the opening few minutes I am lost to how one would interpret this, but I guess that is the fascination of dance – that it continues to move forward, pushing boundaries and exceeding expectations.

As a piece for dance, Lichtung is, perhaps surprisingly, a touch more accessible than Scott Walker‘s And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And What Shall Go to the Ball?, which is the more jarring, disorienting piece – although I can visualize that in my mind’s eye quite clearly.  As a piece of work featuring guitar and electronic manipulation, then, the almost inevitable comparison is with Fennesz, which is unfortunate because virtually any musician is going to come off second best when lined up against those two particular artists.  But there’s no shame in that, because as Buzz Aldrin once said, “Second comes right after first.”

Jeremy Bye

Textura June 2009

Unusual for a Line release, Lichtung presents a score for a dance solo. Obviously, we’re not talking the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” or Swan Lake here but something considerably more experimental in both visual and sonic design. The thirty-five-minute single movement work by Yves De Mey, a Brussels, Belgium-based electronic artist, was premiered in March 2008 at Kampnagel in Hamburg and performed by Catherine Jodoin and choreographed by Antoine Effroy and Anne Rudelbach. It begins with the kind of low-level austerity which we’ve come to associate with Richard Chartier’s imprint but an unexpected change in character soon appears when the tremolo see-saw of an electric guitar hovers over the simmer of static ripples and soft clicks. Eventually an organ drone settles into position, peppered by tiny pops, before the abrasive scrape of the guitar threatens to destabilize it; near the work’s end, a lulling machine rhythm emerges to guide the piece back to the stillness with which it began.

The dance performance choreography involves a measured movement from the back of the stage to the front, with De Mey’s score evolving in parallel to the dancer’s movements. Listening to the work, one can easily visualize the dancer’s onstage movements which presumably would unfurl in graceful slow-motion in sync with the music’s similarly glacial unfurl. Lichtung develops organically in unhurried fashion, following a trajectory which is unpredictable yet feels natural, with De Mey’s manipulations allowing each industrially-tinged component to transform in its own time.

Belgian composer Yves De Mey, a former cinematography student, has mostly used his skills as sound engineer and designer in the areas of modern theatre and dance. Lichtung is the score for Antoine Effroy and Anne Rudelbach’s dance of the same name, premiered in 2008 in Hamburg. This is one of those cases in which it would be helpful if the aural experience came with a visual component. The first minutes of the CD, for instance, introduce the listener to little more than a collection of adjacent planes, replete with electronic shadings (plus some Badalamenti-like guitar twangs), which do little to lodge themselves in the listener’s memory. Yet as the flux continues, the energies become better channelled and the work gains in individuality, offering moments of exquisite internal vibrations and rumblings informed by a refreshingly sugar-free melodic fragmentariness, then travelling across lands of droning semi-stillness until the piece’s termination. Not enough for a “must” status, but this is a record to evaluate attentively several times before selling it at $1.70 on eBay. Fans of KTL might welcome it, despite the lack of outpouring guitars.–MR

Sound Proector

In his early childhood Belgian Yves De Mey started his creative work with education in the field of cinematography. But very quickly he got interested in experimental electronic music and soon his work was focused on audio design for theater and dancing and that is what he’s engaged in till now. Record Lichtung released by label Line this year is an audio component of a dance performance presented for the first time in March 2008 in Hamburg. The conception of the performance created by Antoine Effroy and Anne Rudelbach and performed by Catherine Jodoin is to create a unique situation by the movements of a dancer and sustain this physical state as long as possible. A dancer gradually moves from the distant part of the scene to the foreground bringing the action closer to the auditorium, and it has its reflection in sound changing its deepness in the course of time.

And though the visual component is unavailable on the compact-disc, there’s no possibility to see the dance but why shouldn’t such music having its own unique theme be released. I think that these sounds convey the idea of the whole performance not badly. At the subconsciousness level they increase the perception deepness of a separate reality moment. Time in its common interpretation loses sense as if all clocks of the world stopped and the existing sequences lost their reference point. Lichtung is recorded as one track but it consists of various sections each of them deepens us into its body and stops the reality movement in this moment. Everything around – material and spiritual shrinks into one point, now we can lose touch with the timeline and start feeling independence of it moving from one sound feeling stage to the next one…

review Pi Micron