1. Page 1: 14 June, Yurinoki Park (3:09)
2. Page 2: 14 June, Yurinoki Park (6:46)
3. Page 3: 14 June, Hanegi Park (4:54)
4. Page 4: 24 June, Kitazawa Park (4:53)
5. Page 5: 14 June, Hanegi Park (5:31)
6. Page 6: 14 June, Hanegi Park (4:18)
7. Page 7: 14 June, Kitazawa River Way (5:10)
8. Page 8: 15 June, Inokashira Park (4:40)
9. Page 9: 15 June, Inokashira Park (4:33)
10. Page 10: 24 June, Kitazawa Park (4:11)
11. Page 11: 24 June, Kitazawa Park (4:44)
· Taku Sugimoto: acoustic or electric guitar
· Minami Saeki: voice
Score composed by Bruno Duplant in 2017-2018
Realized by Taku Sugimoto & Minami Saeki
Recorded by Taku Sugimoto in various Tokyo parks on 14-24/6/2018
Edited and mastered by Bruno Duplant with the help of Simon Reynell
Artworks by Ko Ushijima
Graphic design by László Szakács
Produced by László Juhász & Bruno Duplant
“The header says Bruno Duplant, but his role here is as the composer of the work, while Taku Sugimoto (acoustic or electric guitar) and Minami Saeki (voice) perform the piece. All three of them have words on the cover, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the actual score. There are eleven pages in this score and they are performed on locations outside, Yurinoki Park, Hanegi Park, Kitazawa Park and such. Each player was unaware of how the other was going to interpret these eleven pages. This is a strange release. It is very quiet, as the title might indicate; it is all about hearing. I image the two musicians sitting on a park bench armed with a small recorder and carefully producing a few sounds. Oddly enough the voice of Seaki is usually a bit louder than the guitar played Sugimoto. We hear just a few sounds from him. Sometimes the activities of other people in the park, children playing, for instance, are louder than the guitar. I am not sure if Seaki sings words or just produces sounds with her mouth. It is strange and radical music, not easy something to access. The first time I played it, last week, I removed it from CD player after a few minutes, because I found it all very annoying. But once I sat down and concentrated more on what I was hearing, the music quite grabbed me, even when, in all its silent approach, it remained something that was not easy get along with. Perhaps this music calls for another state of mind, one that I have not yet encountered (or even have found), a sort of Zen-like state of listening, that will open another door with this music; or should that ‘into this music’? I am not sure. These fifty-two minutes will certainly alter your perception of reality quite a bit. The release you play after this one will be perceived quite differently than what you expected. At least for me, it did.” / Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly, 5 November 2019
“Inexhaustible Editions has two new and excellent releases that are well worth your time: Arches (Fredrik Rasten, acoustic guitar and e-bows; Jonathan Heilbron, double bass) – With All Your Mysteries In The Open Air. Four duos. Although both instruments are arco throughout (or e-bow), resulting in long, slowly shifting lines, I don’t get so much of an impression of ‘drone’, more like attenuated versions of string adagios or marches funèbres. Dark, compelling, super-subtle and gorgeous. Bruno Duplant – Étendues Silencieuses. Eleven pages of a score realized by Taku Sugimoto (acoustic and electric guitars) and Minami Saeki (voice). Each performer separately determined how to interpret the scores (text? graphic? I’m not certain) then played them in several open air, park settings. As one might expect, quiet, serene with only mild currents of disturbance, the ambient sounds filtering in – water, dogs, children. Sugimoto and Saeki play with extreme sensitivity, a pleasure to experience.” / Brian Olewnick, Facebook, 27 December 2019
“We’ve been hearing the music of Bruno Duplant on a few records since about 2016 now. One day I hope to understand it. To say he’s a minimalist would be to overstate the case… with each successive record that crosses the desk, there just seems to be less to listen to, and yet an increased expectation that we engage with the ideas (or the structure) of the composition, without being told very much about it. I’m ill-equipped to deal with this at the best of times, but I’ll happily wear the blindfold for another hour or two to see where I end up. It might also be fair to say Duplant has changed his methods a bit over time (the first record we got from him was rather ordinary electro-acoustic drone) and evolved into much more of an ‘indeterminate’ composer, a word which I normally associate with John Cage and followers of his school. One day I hope to understand what it means. I think it’s a lot deeper, though, than simply allowing ‘chance events’ to govern the rules of everything, which is the argument used by most detractors of the Cagean way.
At any rate, the word appears in context on today’s record Étendues Silencieuses. The work is a composition in 11 parts by Bruno Duplant, and it’s played by the Japanese guitarist Taku Sugimoto and the vocalist Minami Saeki. Sugimoto is another figure with whom I have a complex relationship (meaning I can’t make up my mind) – we first came across his very reduced style of playing through the label A Bruit Secret, which during its short existence served to document quite a lot of the so-called Onkyo style of quiet, minimal, respectful music associated with Japanese players. That was as late as 2001; maybe I need to track down Taku’s earlier 1990s releases for the Slub label. Minami Saeki is an entirely new name to me. She comes to us from a background of acting, cinema, dancing and song, rather than a strictly free improvisation context, and she hasn’t appeared on record so much, although in 2017 there was a record called Songs she made with Taku.
When I first played Étendues Silencieuses I found it tough going and very unrewarding, but after a turn in the ice cold swimming pool and a jog around Hampstead Heath, I renewed my earmuffs for a second tranche of minimal emissions. At first spin these quiet, unobtrusive and uneventful murmurs could strike one as infuriating – barely audible guitar plucks, insubstantial vocal whimpers, and lots of interesting background noise coming into the recordings. This is because every piece was recorded in one of Tokyo’s outdoor parks. However, reading the printed paragraphs inside the cover revealed quite a bit and helped things fall into place. I read Minami’s take on it first, and she was all about using the composition as a cue to invent her own stories. She read the text as pictures, and from these images she devised scenarios, which would enable her to play roles or perform when it came time to do the recordings. Then I read Taku’s two paras. He’s all about the structure. He tells us that Étendues Silencieuses is 11 pages, and the pages are numbered and so the pieces appear in a sequence – just like the pages of a book. They recorded each page three times over (sometimes more). It emerges that the work can indeed be characterised as ‘indeterminate’, and that very word appears in Taku’s mouth three times. Evidently, it’s all about the way that the work gets interpreted by the artist it’s given to, a fact confirmed by Bruno himself whose short epithet indicates he is delighted by what these two orientals have done – they ‘played [it] like I expected’, quoth he, before going on to praise the creativity they brought to the performances. I’ve often felt this with Cage’s music, to be honest, which is probably why I like David Tudor so much; Tudor brought a lot of himself into these highly open-ended instructional pieces.
I’ll also mention however that the two players didn’t really discuss beforehand what they were going to do, and I’m not sure if they even mentioned it afterwards. To put it another way, Minami didn’t say she was going to start acting out stories, and Taku for his part is so committed to being indeterminate that he declines to describe his interpretation, because if he did then it wouldn’t be indeterminate any more. Bearing all this in mind put a fresh sheen of interest on this strange record for me. At some point it sounded like the two musicians were indeed playing together, instead of locking themselves up in their own thoughts, and what first appeared to be hesitancy and ineffectualness instead turns out to be a very disciplined form of subtlety, as if both concerned were reluctant to say or do any more than was necessary for fear of destroying something. In this context, the background sounds (including passing trains, I think) start to make a lot more sense too. Another strong release from this unpredictable Slovenian label.” / Ed Pinsent, The Sound Projector, 15 March 2020
“If Bruno Duplant likes the way a musician interprets music, he might sit down and write them a letter. That letter might be a score, and if it is, it probably won’t be conventionally notated. If the musician performs and records that score, the result probably will not tell you exactly what was in that missive, but it just might tell you a lot about why Duplant wanted to hear their interpretation. It’s not hard to guess why the composer selected Taku Sugimoto to receive the proposal that became Chamber And Field Works (2015-2017). The Japanese guitarist’s performances combine a humility that might be mistaken for reticence with a rigorous commitment to realizing whatever ideas are in play. When he received that first score, he not only agreed to perform it; he chose to share Duplant’s ideas with both a group of Tokyo chamber musicians and ambient sounds of Hanegi Park. That album’s quiet grace presented Duplant with a challenge in turn – how to get some more out of a musician who often adds as little as possible to any playing situation?
The answer was to send some more letters, of course. He dispatched 11 pages to Tokyo, where Sugimoto and vocalist Minami Saeki separately pondered them. The duo then went to several city parks over ten days in June 2018, where they ran through each piece at least three times. Although they hadn’t discussed the pages ahead of time, Sugimoto’s liner notes report that the performances were fairly similar. Neither musician discussed the actual contents of the pages, but each seems to have gleaned a suggestion of abstract narrative from them. Sugimoto played slender, unspooling tones and sparse harmonics. Saeki strung together words and syllables, which she delivered as though she were singing more to herself than the guitarist or anyone else within earshot.
And there’s almost always someone in nearby. The album’s title translates as Silent Expanses, and it’s doubly ironic. While the players are never loud, silence is never an option in the big city. And if you do an image search for the parks where the duo recorded, you’ll see that they’re rather small, with residences on all sides; in the megalopolis, it costs a lot of green to spare a bit of green space. The unscripted sounds of conversations, traffic, birds, rain, and playing children yield as much music as the foregrounded musicians, and their arbitrary interplay is one of the record’s richest aspects.” / Bill Meyer, Dusted Magazine, 19 May 2020
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