Julien Ottavi – Beyond Symphony

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In the first seconds of Beyond Symphony, a continuous piercing sound of unknown origin saturates the listener. The author of this 75 minute piece is Julien Ottavi, a French sound artist, programmer, composer, musician, poet and experimental filmmaker. His creative path began with the study of the drums and work as photographer, but his background is also deeply rooted in sound poetry, a contemporary music tradition influenced by John Cage and the “bruitisme”, all elements somehow still recognisable in his work today. A series of imperceptible and random audio constructions are developed around drone noise, quite metallic and insistent. The author used the open source software Pure Data, a visual programming language for the management of audio-visual installations. A different audible perception is created by elements such as silence, long pauses or very low volumes. The meeting between information technology and composition is reduced to a minimum: in the first forty minutes the screech is continuous, followed by two minutes of silence or maybe some noise at imperceptible levels, then twelve minutes of inaudible and indistinct sequences, and finally an impressive, dissonant and industrial block lasting eighteen minutes. We need to visualize the wave form of the track to figure out the exact structure of the composition, but the sound-hactivism of Ottavi is not just abstrusely conceptual; it is also direct: it doesn’t embody nonessential elements, nor include half measures. The listening experience is not conciliatory and no formal solution is used to sweeten the result. Every subtle musical expression is here under constant danger of being overwhelmed by a material energy, in the invention of a transformation device, the expression of a physical reality, a noise that goes beyond any reasonable resource. “Nothing burns except fire…well I am not sure” is the title, not without some irony, of the only continuous track of the album. Perhaps the choice of title refers to the frizzling quality of the persistent and impressive substantial loop. It’s an overflowing musicality. Fibrr suits this release in part because of the method of composition, a software-based process that doesn’t include the use of traditional instruments.

 

Julien Ottavi – Beyond Symphony