Talking With A Dinosaur

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Sleeve Artwork: Aymeric de Tapol, Lay out: Anne Fontenelle.
Materials composed by Aymeric de Tapol at GRM, Paris, november 2009.
Composed in Bruxelles between november 2009 and april 2011.
Mastering: Frederic Alstadt, Cut: Yann de Keroullas.

Talking with a dinosaur is Aymeric de Tapol’s riveting dialogue with the legendary Coupigny synthesizer of the Ina-GRM. Built around 1970 by French engineer Francois Coupigny, this electronic dinosaur is a unique modular synth designed according to the instructions of Pierre Schaeffer. It was assembled with musique concrete’s atonal penchant engraved in its mind and body. It is a pleasant but untamed animal, powerful and insubordinate.

There was a time, not so long ago, when synthesizers and electronic instruments in general were used to produce strange and new tonalities, to obtain sounds unheard before, to astound and bewilder. Nowadays they are used to represent an era, to function as period pieces. They are precisely dated mechanisms and tools, incorporating ancient practices and forgotten gestures, revived and requisitioned to call to mind musical styles, genres or scenes. That is: the exact opposite of what they were built for in the first place. Midi synth now stands for the eighties, analogue synths means seventies, modular synths the sixties, and any vacuum tube is supposed to conjure up the pioneers. That is why Aymeric de Tapol has conceived this album not as an homage or a document on the Coupigny, but as a field recording, as one would approach a wild animal, or a landscape. It is not a demo of the apparatus but a paradoxically creative contemplation. The musician and the instrument have had little time to travel towards each other, but they have reached a mutual understanding. As a painter knows that he will never consummately possess or dominate the mountain scenery he faces, the musician has approached this famed equipment without the will to confront it or defeat it, but on the contrary to hear it tell its own story, not to behold it, or worship it, but to appraise it, to let it speak on its own terms and genuinely converse with it. Delivered from the pressure to conquer and subdue the beast, Aymeric de Tapol has succeeded in establishing contact with it, man to machine, each on its own terrain, mutually taming the other, teaching him gestures, teaching him the rules of the game, in fact teaching him to play. Aymeric De Tapol has opted to forgo the usual bubbles and bleeps of modular synths and to reach for the more abrasive spectrum of the instrument, the piercing noise and the thrumming hum of deep bass sounds. No ostentatious show of virtuosity on his side or of technical capacities on the machine’s side, but an exchange of vocabulary, morphemes and phonemes enabling communication, coded pulses and sine waves, possibly meaningful signals. One track is entitled dialogues, the next is called non dialogues. We pretend to find sense or purpose in the oscillating electricity, the buzzing machinery. But any understanding between man and machine may simply be due to chance.” Benoit Deuxant