"As a child, almost every Sunday, I was wandering in the countryside, and usually, I was finding myself in my favorite spot: a swamp. Air was different. Trees were dead, but not really dead. Soil was swaying of clear water, and an everlasting mist was suspended all over the place. No one was there and nothing could happen even if some animal tracks were here to prove me I was wrong.
Much later, one of my masters made always this joke about my music. He said I was composing swamps, I guess because of the lack of demonstrative musical shapes and articulations. At the same time, he was acknowledging that I was building a “climate”.
It took me then almost 30 years to understand why I was so fond of swamps. It’s because a swamp is an intermediary space of the organic becoming and the blurry space suspending the cycle of the utilities, which is the cycle of history.
Swamps / Things has been conceived as an opera. An opera without characters, without text, but not without story. The story, here, is only an arc. Because what is an opera, if not an arc? And the arc, here, is the simplest. It’s walking through the swamp. Approaching it, leaching into it, becoming it. The Swamp is us. Our own disappearance, populated by all the beasts we have turned into, by the places we have haunted, and by the time we have consumed. We are traces in an always intermediate state. Animals tracks in the sodden earth of the Swamp."
— Francois Bonnet (Kassel Jaeger).
Over the last decade, Kassel Jaeger, the moniker of the Paris-based composer, writer / theorist, producer, and director of the Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), François Bonnet, has meticulously sculpted a body of multidisciplinary work that rests at the forefront contemporary electronic and electroacoustic practice. On July 10th he will release his new album ‘Swamp / Things’ on Shelter-Press.
Rigorously experimental without sacrificing the intimacies of self, his efforts as a composer and musician extend across live contexts and numerous critically heralded solo releases, as well as collaborations with Jim O’Rourke and Lucy Railton, both contributing to the record, alongside Stephen O’Malley, Stephan Mathieu, Akira Rabelais, Oren Ambarchi, and James Rushford, and others.
Deeply invested in the potential of sound as an elemental form - a root phenomenon with a profound capacity for meaning, as much as a multidimensional material for creative process and ideas – Jaeger’s work across numerous fields, be it in text, action, or sound presents a crucial bridge between the optimistic, philosophical origins of electronic and electroacoustic music, the present and where they have yet to delve.
Sound is abstract. When the source is elusive, narrative and meaning shift between the concrete and obscure. With his first solo LP with Shelter Press, Swamps/Things, Kassel Jaeger wades into this foggy, conceptual realm. From memory and metaphor - sliding fluidly through the imagistic and emotive - emerges an immersive, cavernous world that rethinks electroacoustic music on organic terms.
‘Swamps / Things’ was conceived as an opera without distinct characters or text. It draws Kassel Jaeger into his own history, experiences, and the unlikely double of the swamp, a landscape that has held literal and metaphorical sway over him since childhood. Merging 8 works as a total environment, abstaining from distinct shape or discrete articulation, across the album's breadth, sound becomes a shifting mirror for the bubbling, ordered chaos of organic life.
Resting at the junction of concept, emotion, and phenomena - tapping the multidimensional potential for narrative and meaning possessed by each - Swamps / Things encounters an artist of remarkable craft, delving toward the unknown, deploying organized sonority as object and environment, as much as action, movement, passage, and arc. Seemingly possessed by an entropy entirely its own, the temporal gives way to the poetics of space, while the density of an endlessly evolving climate, laden with cacophonous happenings, renders itself still. Flickering images of the natural world - memory and the imagined reformed as sound - present an operatic double for human action and thought. From deep, fog like banks of minimalist long tone, to industrial clamors left as tracks in the mud, or the collisions of shifting pulses, overtones, and textures - captured from across the murky, drone laden waters between the acoustic and synthetic realms - moody, howling cries and tense meditations merge in ambient sheets, capturing a fleeting image of where decomposition gives way to new growth.
A remarkably intimate and forward-thinking aural balm, bristling with complex beauty, Shelter press is overjoyed to present Kassel Jaeger’s Swamps / Things. Two immersive, intoxicating sides overflowing with humanity and ideas.
released July 10, 2020
Sound material collected and performed by François J. Bonnet
with additional help by Lucy Railton (River Wensum Roe Deers) and Jim O’Rourke (NYC Bobcats).
Artwork by Cameron Jamie.
Mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi.
Music composed by François J. Bonnet.