Is it possible to fully appreciate spoken-word art presented in a language you don’t understand? The short (and obvious) answer is no. But as this six-disc collection of work by composer/musician Denis Frajerman and author Antoine Volodine illustrates, that’s no reason to turn away from the work.
The two French artists have worked together for decades. Variations Volodine compiles, in chronological order, their collaborations dating back to 1994. The work can be gripping, verging on antagonistic. It can also be mesmerizing.
No matter the style, there is an assertiveness in each of these pieces that is impossible to remain detached from. Those of us who do not understand French can still marvel at the profound musicality of Volodine’s writing, and its deep connection to Frajerman’s sound art.
Frajerman was first recognized as a composer with a French experimental group called Palo Alto. He has partnered with writers on multiple occasions over the years. His first solo album landed in 1999, Les Suites Volodine. He’s also enjoyed success composing work for theatre and contemporary dance projects.
Volodine writes and records under a series of heteronyms (of which Antoine Volodine is one). More than simply pseudonyms, each name represents a character and writing style meant to add context to the work. He has also published as Lutz Bassmann and Manuela Draeger.