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The primary step in understanding Standing Still, Facing Forward is to recognize Ensemble Economique is Brian Pyle. Brian Pyle is Ensemble Economique. This is the first LP release from Ensemble Economique. Digitalis issued the At the Foot of Nameless Roads CD in 2008. Ensemble Economique's fantastic earliest recording, entitled No GPS, was bundled as a CDr with a limited initial pressing of At the Foot, but has yet to be properly issued. Both recordings are important primers to Pyle's nascent invocations of Holger Czukay's Cannaxis (on No GPS) and Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontake (on At the Foot).
With Standing Still, Facing Forward Ensemble Economique provides the most mature realization of Pyle's compositional process, which utilizes found sounds, field recordings, and musical performance that he later meticulously edits, layers, and loops in the studio. The effects of these processes are dramatic, cinematic and conceptually rigorous and this recording evidences Pyle as an important new composer emerging out of the long and storied tradition of West Coast experimentalism.
Utilizing a delicate combination of the homespun improvisation of his other project, Starving Weirdos (whose work sounds like an American echo of AMM) with his own unique variation on the European avant-garde in Ensemble Economique, Pyle's practice involves a dense approach to composition akin to assemblage. But unlike electronic and laptop composition, Pyle's studio work aims to re-establish an organicism associated with live (or, in the case of the field recordings, lived) performance that pushes the studio out into nature and nature into the studio. In short, the Northern Californian landscape plays an integral part in Ensemble Economique's soundscapes, and this record captures much of the atmosphere of Pyle's home terrain.