fondation Les Cassettes 1980-1983 (LP, £19.95)label: Bureau B
In the early 1980s, the French musical duo Fondation, comprising Ivan Coaquette and Anannka Raghel, released three tapes of fantastic electronic music which owed much to the experimentalism of the seventies. Synthesiser, drum computer, solo guitar. Repetitive, meditative, hypnotic. Between ambient and synth pop. "Les Cassettes 1980-1983" presents a selection of their finest pieces from this period. During an extended sojourn in Italy around 1970, the multi-instrumentalist Ivan Coaquette contributed to the highly experimental artist collective Musica Elettronica Viva, who were on a mission to liberate music from every form of convention. Back in France, he played in various experimental prog rock bands such as Spacecraft and Delired Cameleon Family. His wife Anannka began learning to play the piano at the age of four, studied music theory and sang together with her father, a professional vocalist. Her focus subsequently shifted to theatre and dance, but she would return to music, taking up piano and singing lessons again and playing in bands like Spacecraft, Pandemonium, Zed and Chantal Grimm. Between 1980 and 1983 they managed to release three lovingly crafted cassettes. Opting for this format rather than the LP was not solely an economic decision. The duo stated a preference for the longer playing time which cassettes afforded. All three tapes had a running time of around 60 minutes. Fondation created sonic collages underpinned by synthesiser, organ, drum computer and guitar, enhanced by bursts of noise, field recordings, diverse percussion instruments and the occasional wordless lament sung by Anannka Raghel. Noteworthy is the use of a Korg X-911 guitar synthesiser, related to the popular black series Korg MS-20 synthesiser. The X-911 transforms a monophonic input signal into synthetic sound. The source instrument for this signal is revealed in its name. It frees up the musician to play naturally, although technical limitations must be taken into account. If not played cleanly, the pitch can slip, as it can with multi-tone signals. If a sequence is played too quickly, some notes simply drop out altogether. This can, of course, also be seen as strengthening the instrument's appeal ... thanks to their use of the X-911 guitar synthesiser, Fondation succeed in blurring the distinction between synthesisers and guitars with a synthetic sound. For this album, we have selected the most intriguing and illuminating tracks from the three tapes Metamorphoses (1980), Sans Etiquette (1980) and Le Vaisseau Blanc (1983).
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