Tip! Have you heard of the Nurse With Wound List? If you are a fan of creative-experimental-unlikely music, certainly. You would therefore be aware that amongst the recommendations that Steven Stapleton slipped into the first album of his group Nurse With Wound, were to be found a few restless frogs: Jef Gilson, Luc Ferrari, Jacques Thollot, Urban Sax, Horde Catalytique and last… but not least Jean-Jacques Birgé and Francis Gorgé. Stapleton admired their album Défense de. The two Frenchmen just had to conceive of a fabulous precursor to the channel tunnel (check out the inside of the record, you’ll see) to enable Stapleton to come to France in 1980. The Englishman was looking for contributions to a compilation to be released on his United Dairies label that he had created with John Fothergill, and he naturally called on Birgé and Gorgé, who were then playing with Bernard Vitet in ‘Un drame musical instantané’. It was a done deal and the compilation would be named In Fractured Silence.
Alongside Nurse With Wound and Un drame musical instantané, could be heard Hélène Sage (whom Birgé introduced to Stapleton) and Sema, a project from the experimental British musician Robert Haigh who had participated in key records in the Nurse With Wound discography, such as Homotopy to Marie and Spiral Insana. The curtain is raised and it is Un drame musical instantané who start the ball rolling. Mystery abounds; synthesisers lurk, percussion clatters and the sounds (creaks, whistles, vocal insertions…) fire in all directions. For the piano, it’s a debacle, the Drame won, Hélène Sage can take over. Heading up a quintette including Gorgé and Vitet, she creates a cushioned chamber music with strings and many silences.
On the B side, it’s the other side of the channel. Sema’s piano first off, which dares everything, even melody, before spilling out its darkest ideas in a raucous requiem. Finally, Stapleton appears, delving into his collection of female voices to devote himself to an iconoclastic transformation and concoct a song which collapses under the assault like Marianne at Agincourt. After having listened to In Fractured Silence, you will simply have to choose sides.