One of my more embarrassing radio moments came in the early 1990s, as I began to develop an interest in the history of experimental music. Not having paid sufficient attention in French class, I was forever mispronouncing words containing the language’s various accents: l’accent aigu, l’accent grave, etc. This meant that the enthusiasm with which I shared examples of musique concrète was unfortunately tempered (albeit in hindsight) by the eventual realization that those recordings had nothing to do with sidewalks.
Until now. Hamilton, Ontario-based artist Mike Hansen has produced a superb collection of four acousmatic pieces based on solo instrument performances: drums, piano, slide guitar and trombone. The recordings have each been manipulated digitally.
Each is pressed on a 10-inch, thin slab of water, aggregate and Portland cement. Paradox is equal parts audio and visual art. It is brilliant, both in its conception and execution.
The five-disc set also includes a vinyl collection of the four pieces together. “Paradox examines the experimentation processes of musique concréte musically and literally through the casting of records with a fine high-tensile cement to create a playable record that reflects the spatialized sounds imbedded on it,” according to the notes.
Hansen says that his work is dedicated to understanding “perceived notions of what/how a sound object should appear or perform, through objects, sculptures and installations.” There is a mix of sincerity and curiosity in his work that very much reflects him personally.
I’ve always imagined Hansen making his art with a smile on his face. That’s clearly unrealistic, but having known the man more than 30 years I can hear and see his enthusiasm in everything he produces.
Paradox is available as a digital download. Ten copies of the concrete discs have been produced for sale.
The Moderns, vols. 1 and 2, by Kevin Press are available exclusively from Amazon.
3 thoughts on “Mike Hansen – Paradox (a study of musique concrete)”
Thanks Kevin There is a concrete disc on its way in the mail. Please let me know if it arrives intact.
It did! Love it, thank you Mike.
Don’t feel bad–I dropped French after one week, and now I’m really behind the 8 ball. And thank you for the album recommendation!