Review: Jean-Sébastien Truchy – Transmission In An Expanse Of Firelight, Hear Me!

rs102-cover-web-700Space-time has been scrunched up like a napkin. It takes me a while to realise that and longer still to accept it. That’d explain why my sound world is completely askew: I can hear operatic voices amongst the whirr of server rooms, and drum samples bobbing upon pools of radio scanner and children’s choir, and crockery clanging under showers of lo-fidelity rain. The sounds don’t cluster into little thematic microcosms like they usually do. Noises no longer co-exist harmoniously with those of a similar flavour and origin. The geography of my world has been sabotaged, forcing relationships between sonic entities that wouldn’t customarily come into contact. The soundscape flickers and fragments, tugging me round sharp corners of place and chronology, from the gurgle of exoplanetary rivers to a bleak, neoclassical ballad crumpling in the mouth of a campfire. Sections recur as time glitches into intermittent loops, or vanish like television shows under the whim of a bored channel-hopper.

On the release page, Jean-Sébastien Truchy states his objective. “I try to look at sounds and structures as neutral elements that have not yet been categorized by preconceived thoughts, judgement and/or taste – to apply the idea of emptiness to sounds, structure and form.” Of course, we are all thoroughly trained to place sound within our existing network of sensory experience. Listening isn’t just the act of sensory recognition, but the act of processing this data into familiar patterns of understanding and emotional response. While it feels unlikely that Truchy would be able to unravel something so intrinsic to the way I interact with the world, each listen to Transmission… seems to prise vibration away from prejudice. Gruesome distorted screams become intermittent, tonally speckled crackles of static. The eerie clacks of close-mic’d vocal sounds – like a tongue moistening a dehydrated mouth in the morning – start to divorce from the notions of viscera and intimacy. Even Truchy’s wails of semi-operatic vibrato, which initially resemble a frenetic, futile scrabble for coherent meaning, start to feel at rest within the computer crackles and MIDI strings. As I relax the urge to cram Transmission… into an incompatible frame of reference, the combinations of sounds start to feel as harmonious and deliberate as they are back in more familiar, corporeal territory. It just takes time.