**Much needed repress.** Often, when looking back over the history if experimental music in France, easy divisions can be seen to emerge. There are the pioneers of improvised music, usually associated with jazz, and there are the pioneers of electronic music, including tape, synthesis, and electroacoustic practice. This separation is convenient and serves historians well, providing simple answers for the what and why of what occurred, but, in most cases, fails to represent the true spirit of any of this music, or what actually transpired. This became apparent on Alga Marghen’s release Intra Musique, by French free jazz drummer Jacques Thollot, whose electronic experiments flirted around the edges of his peers in other fields, and is now vastly expanded by Atelier de Libération de la Musique, a series of wild recordings made by an ensemble led by Luc Ferrari in June 1975, never before released.
Of all he names connected with electronic and electroacoustic music, few trump Luc Ferrari. In 1958 he co-founded the Groupe de Recherches Musicales with Pierre Schaeffer and François-Bernard Mâche, forever associated with that studio, among the most revolutionary and important of all. What often gets overlooked, is that, before coming to electronic music, Ferrari was a pianist of radical and freely atonal temperaments - studying under Alfred Cortot, Olivier Messiaen, and Arthur Honegger, before shifting his focus after meeting Edgard Varèse. While his radicalism never wavered, where his music was understood to reside and how it operated, was often allowed to.
Because electronic and electroacoustic music of the sort which was produced at Groupe de Recherches Musicales, has long been viewed as an adjunct to avant-garde classical music, the social vision within which it was conceived is often overlooked. Most artists, Ferrari included, saw this music as having the potential for direct impact - as a music of the people, with the potential for arching collaboration, rather than something to be produced for a stuffy concert hall - something illuminated by a series of incredibly rare recordings, created in 1975 and never before released, entitled Atelier de Libération de la Musique.
On the outside of the LP, issued by Alga Marghen, the beginnings of a simple accompanying text by Ferrari explains it all - “To free music from the constraints of style and aesthetics; to free the arts from the abstraction to train him for comprehensible actions; to be rather a craftsman of imagination..” It was under these ideas which a group of musicians - Ferrari on electric organ, two Nurse With Wound-listed artists: Martin Davorin Jagodic on electric piano and Philippe Besombes on synth, plus Alain Petit on sax, flute, and clarinet, met in February and March of 1975, rehearsing for a series of concerts in Paris to be staged later that year. It is the previously unheard recordings from these rehearsals which make up this incredible LP.
Atelier de Libération de la Musique encounters Luc Ferrari as few have ever encountered him, in a state of open collaboration which falls far closer to free jazz than anything else he ever produced. It is thrilling and overwhelming ride - a window in the spirit of this great master and the root of his ideas. Rattling, difficult polyrhythms play agaist droning, pulsing, and simmering sonorities - harsh atonality is placed against seductive compliments, at time appearing like a broken version of the Minimalism which was then growing from the United States. As intelligent as they, these recordings appear with a remarkable sense of life and feeling. They are human, open, and do everything which Ferrari set out to explain with his text. Wild and incredibly ahead of their time, it boggles the mind to try and understand why these recordings have remained our of earshot for so long. An incredibly historic wonder, returning Ferrari to the keyboard, his original instrument, which takes great lengths to opening a window onto the true hopes at the heart of his sprawling, decades long practice. We can’t possibly recommend this one enough.