Review: Cyril M. – Diffraction

Cyril M - DiffractionIt grows, from the size of a snow globe to an inferno that moves of its own accord. Cyril M’s 27-minute live performance (recorded at Chapelle St Jean in Mulhouse) begins entirely within his control, as an observation of bowed guitar drones and their little overtone gleams; a small object rolled between palms, each side twisted and scrutinised. His movements modulate gently, and the hum jumps as the bow quickens and stalls – it wriggles away, but never evades immediate reach.

Momentum accumulates quickly and unexpectedly. A tiny flash of distortion catches fire and the noise expands until it looms over Cyril and I, turning the immediate space on every side into compounded layers of overdrive and heat – every twitch becomes amplified into a extravagant, destructive sway, knocking into surrounding objects and swallowing them up. Those initial drones disappear beneath violent strums that splinter church beams, blazing with frequencies too bright to be observed directly. The fact that Cyril regains control is something of a miracle; the distortion falls away like petals in decay, leaving him cupping the bud of sound within his hands again.

The room shrinks dramatically as the tape transits into the two duo performances, and where the opening piece presents sound as a form of conjuring – rising out of the instruments like magical smoke – the collaborations with Sacho Navarro-Mendez expose the sounds of rattling instigation and smacked surfaces, as a document of two bodies in conversation amidst jumbles of hung wires and objects. The room sounds cramped and cluttered. I can hear blunted fingernails against taut metal piano strings, and little the knocks of movement as the players shift between instruments. The air buzzes with PA interference, scenting the room with the smell of hyper-attentive impulse. Staccato sounds dominate, with little flicks of piano key doing a do-si-do between palm-muted droplets and polite taps against wood – the sound is sharpened by the attack of sudden reflex, at once both thoughtful and cognitively unmediated.