Henri Pousser - Pétales De Réve Dans Le Paravent Du Vieux Moine (LP Die Schachtel)
There's an impressive sense of aesthetics to Die Schachtel releases with packaging sympathetic to, and which is appropriate to, the recordings themselves. This time they've gone all-out with an immaculately assembled box. Containing the LP, a meter-long aleatronic (meaning the element of chance is included) score with instructions, six prints of Japanese calligraphy on heavy card, a colophone sheet signed and numbered by Pousseur, and a 40 page booklet of haikus in French, German, calligraphic Japanese and normal Japanese. No English. All paper and card used are made of white cotton paper. Handling these objects makes for a sensual experience. Appropriate given the recordings. It might be an idea to wash your hands before handling any part of the box as it's perfectly white!
The album is of work for piano and voice performed by Sophie-Mayuko Vetter, daughter of the composer Hans Zender to whom Pousseur dedicated the album. Zen-like minimal unaccompanied piano and then unaccompanied voice (spoken French, then German) emerge from silence and become part of the room. The third element being silence. I have no idea what's being said but the calm performance and precision of production and pacing is very much in keeping with the overall Zen presentation. Simple, precise. It was recorded live at the 'Festival Musica Intima' in Liège on the 12th of November 2007. You couldn't hear a pin drop through the whole performance until the applause at the end.
Just as the album was released Pousseur died of bronchial pneumonia. His work usually included the element of chance. Even in the late '50s when he was doing electronic and tape experiments, the tapes would be assembled randomly. It calls to mind author BS Johnson's 'The Unfortunates' where the reader could read the sections in any order.My copy has some surface noise which breaks the silence. Not sure if this goes across the whole pressing or if I got unlucky. Either way this playable art object comes in an edition of 100 and worth shelling out for. I've had it for quite a while now and play it often. HM