September is a month for celebrating industriousness. In the northern hemisphere, summer is drawing to a close. Our children have returned to school and workplaces buzz with preparations for another year-end. French composer Jean-Philippe Gross is making more than his share of contributions to all of this. He has produced two new albums, and launched his own label with which to release them.
The first is an electroacoustic piece entitled Curling. As the title suggests, it features a series of field (or more appropriately, ice) recordings collected at curling matches. There is a lot about the sport that sounds like nothing else. Strategies laced with jargon are hatched quietly in close quarters, or shouted down the length of the ice. Rocks click one another after the players’ feverish ice brushing. Appreciative fans contribute vocal support.
Gross adds to the multilingual mix with quiet, often very quiet electronics. It’s an extraordinary piece.
His other new album Reflex is presented in 13 parts, recorded on a Serge analog modular synthesizer first introduced in 1973. Gross laid these tracks down between 2013 and 2018 and then edited the recordings earlier this year.
It is the kind of pure electronic album that revels in the instrument’s capabilities. It is enormous fun. Every one of these pieces, as brief as many of them are, land like big beautiful ideas. Not a moment is wasted; nothing feels forced or overextended. And so the 13 pieces work together as one fascinating, ever-changing whole.
Gross, a former drummer, began producing electronic music in 2001. His discography dates back to 2004.