Jean-Yves Bosseur – Musiques Vertes LP
First ever vinyl reissue of Jean-Yves Bosseur’s visionary LP “Musiques Vertes”, recorded by the legendary French ornithologist and wildlife field recordist Jean-Claude Roché, originally issued by Atelier 82. Utilising handmade instruments constructed from plants and other natural materials, played by a collective of children and untrained musicians, its radically experimental sounds build a revelatory bridge between the avant-garde and ancient forms of folk.
Jean-Yves Bosseur is a relatively obscure figure in the history of the French avant-garde. A student of Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen, as well as a close associate of Knud Viktor, he belonged to the legendary collective Groupe d’Etude et Réalisation Musicale GERM, widely celebrated for their realization of Terry Riley’s Keyboard Study 2, issued by BYG / Actuel in 1970.
The “Musiques Vertes” project began in South East France during the late 1970s, spearheaded by Christine Armengaud, who was investigating, via elderly people in the region, a long tradition of musical instruments made with organic materials and plants. With their help, she was able to construct 240 instruments, collected in her book “Musiques Vertes”, published in 1978 by Christine Bonneton éditeur, that had long been used for bird calls, dancing, toys of young shepherds and children, and much more, but had been lost to common usage following the First World War.
In 1980 the Direction de la Musique awarded the composer Jean-Yves Bosseur a grant to start a collective practice of music using the instrument constructed / reconstructed by Armengaud. Rather than working with professional musicians, he chose to use locals and children he encountered in Aix-en-Provence between 1981 and 1982. The Musiques Vertes album is the result of hours of practice and recording by these players, in each case, within the album 11 musical excursions, utilising a series of instructions or games set up by the composer in an attempt to create collective musical exchange, as well as a dialogic exchange between this practice and active listening within a natural environment.
While the acoustic practises that underscore Musiques Vertes display a deep resonance with those embarked upon by artists like Akio Suzuki, Toshiya Tsunoda, and Jeph Jerman, the structural resemblance, held deeply within utopian avant-garde principles, falls far closer to experimental electronic works that might have emerged from experimental electronic studios like Groupe de Recherches Musicales or EMS, or subtle object oriented efforts in free improvisation. Bubbling textures and atonalities, blended with sounds from the natural environment, intermingle with staggering birdsong-alike tonalities and rattling percussive passages, producing striking moments of abstraction that retain a remarkable sense of humanity and ease. A document of pure sonic magic and stunningly organic creativity.
300 copies, black vinyl, 20 page booklet