Israel Quellet: Soni Sclavus

[10 November 2009]

By Dave Heaton

PopMatters Associate Music Editor

On Soni Sclavus, Israel Quellet puts the “experiment” in experimental. The Swiss electro-acoustic musician has engineered a variety of instrumental settings that play off space, silence, and noise. He named each track after the instruments, with some playful variations (e.g. “For Footsteps and Knocks on Stairs, and Vented Carbon Dioxide”). The room and its sound-making inhabitants are on display, with Quellet carefully controlling what’s there, how it’s captured, and thus how it sounds to us.

At first, it seems more mechanical than emotional, until you start to realize how personal a project it is. A perfectionist he seems to be, but the result is full of surprises. The organ lends a haunted circus air at times, the austere quality of church at others. “For Percussion and Saturation” turns percussion into clouds of noise. “Things That Bloat, Things That Stagnate – For Voice, Percussion, Organ and Miscellaneous Sounds” sets a voice-over fuzz to apocalyptic effect. This is music of expectation and experience, controlled recklessness. In his obsession with the possibilities of sound, Israel Quellet takes us to exciting places.

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