The Bath of Stars
First edition of 50 copies (out of print)
Second edition of 50 copies (out of print)
Some albums just defy all attempt at categorisation.
The French composer Jacques Beloeil’s third album for
the Entr’acte label is one such release. The first track,
lasting less than three minutes, consists of flickering
glitches of processed sound that slowly breaks up into
a stuttering Oval-esque barrage that ends just before
you have time to check the disc for scratches.
By contrast, the second piece clocks in at a little over
45 minutes, and opens with the sound of an old mecha-
nical telephone being dialled, followed by the nostalgic
purr of the dialling tone. This remains for a while until
slowly subsumed into a gentle throb of very deep
bass and semi-rhythmic squealing abstraction, these
elements seemingly evolved from the telephone
recordings, but moulded into completely new forms.
This long, gently seesawing, speaker-testing stream
of almost subsonic pulses very slowly coalesces into
a structured rhythm that touches on the realms of
Minimal Techno before eventually stripping itself back
down to the raw telephone sounds and ending with
the click of the handset being replaced in the cradle.
If the contrast between the album’s first two pieces
wasn’t enough, the final ten minute track pushes
the quirky count up even further. Opening with an
Ambient, vaguely post rock-like shimmer, the track
veers close to New Age territory as slowly turning
piano notes wander dreamily past. Just when this
pattern begins to have a tediously somnolent effect,
the music fades and a thoroughly cheesy tune
appears for the last four minutes, as if someone just
pressed a preset button on an early Casio keyboard.
As intriguing as it is often annoying, Bath of Stars
ignores all current convention, combining a darkly
humorous playfulness with a sense of Dada absurd-
ity and no small degree of compositional skill.
File under bafflingly interesting.
Richard Pinnell in The Wire