Antboy 04, 2003
La respiration des saintes [The Breath of Saints] represents Guthrie's latest direction under the moniker Charlie Charlie, a collaboration with Erell Latimier, initiated since moving to France. Although dense and more difficult it is more sonically challenging and inventive, like some intense early musique concrète testing the limits of organized sound. On this CD-single (which sadly only runs to 14 minutes), Guthrie has smashed together scraps of text from French radio broadcasts, as well as abstract radiophonic materials, and other elements so obscure, so wonderfully perverse and strange, that it is difficult to determine how they were produced percussively—or indeed in any other fashion. It may be that, in his use of barely comprehensible text, Guthrie is referencing such classic works as Pierre Henry's Eurydice, Antonin Artaud's Pour finir avec le judgement de dieu [To Have Done With the Judgement of God] or the radio transmissions from the underworld featured in Jean Cocteau's film Orphée. Whether or not this is the case, Guthrie's composition echoes such precedents gesturing towards an uncharted, haunted realm of sound, close to both death and a collapse of meaning. Thus, unlike Building Blocks, La respiration des saintes exceeds its origins to create a new and essentially spectral, rather than performative, sonic world, unmoored from its origins in percussion and semi-improvised live composition.
The material is densely stratified with a sense of multiple spaces and worlds created and then densely impacted in a kind of sono-acoustic layer cake. It is like listening to a piece of unmapped archaeology, as the listener skates past the side of panels of rock-hard sound layers and spatial devices laid on top of each other, running parallel in a great, deformed mass. Vocals, rumbles, ringing sounds (presumably generated by bowed cymbals or other similar objects), far distant elemental cries, howls of electronics and strange swipes or deformed bleed-throughs of tape, as well as aggressive, closely miked crushings—all of these materials move about the world which Guthrie has created. The foreground tends to be small, discrete, composed of more isolated units of apparently percussive sources, while the almost never-ending sonic depths behind this tends to rise and fall with a diverse and bewildering array of materials. This is a wonderful recording which merits repeated listening precisely because of its unmasterable abstraction, the sense that it goes beyond its absent sound sources to create something truly unknowable and sublime. Although it is frustrating to have such an absorbing CD with only one medium-length track on it, La respiration des saintes is worth having. Through such works, one might yet be able to walk through the mirror with Death and be reunited with our deceased, emotional doppelganger in the Afterlife (“Vous saviez qui je suis?” “Oui.” “Dit que le.” “Ma Morte.” “Parfait.”).
© Jonathan Marshall; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org