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Veiled under the name of Les Graciés, Paris-based sound artist Gaël Segalen and half of the Deepblak core Afrikan Sciences share more than instruments and recording sessions. Breaking down cultural barriers to pull an unique and cohesive output off their own singular heritages, Porter and Segalen have been honing their skills for four years before eventually taking the leap of releasing their longed-for debut joint effort ‘Low Doses‘, due out on Lindsay Todd’s Firecracker on 25th October.
Segalen’s background in electroacoustic, psycho-geographical audio and musique concrète related experiments is clearly palpable throughout the record. Interlocking rough patches of field-recordings, speech samples and hissy mechanics integrated through serial permutation, the title-track is a good example of the LP’s omnivorous, genre-defying structure, unshackled from all floor utility and restrictive rhythmic lexicon.
The freedom of the process reflects on the ‘finished’ product – not finished per se but well kicking and rumbling, set at cracking the varnish of any ‘definitive’ listening state. This chameleonic, all-consuming approach finds various fascinating upshots : from the very Afrikan Sciences’esque ‘Compoly‘, which would have undoubtedly stood its ground on Eric’s memorable LP ‘Circuitous‘ to the static-filled ambient meandering ‘The Reign After‘ onto raw-boned, epidermic cuts like ‘The Entry Dance‘ or ‘Salubrious‘.
The large scale, multi-level odyssey echoes sublimely in the shaggy ‘Pan‘ – which you can now stream in full via our channels. Starting with frail steel-drum rolls, the track superimposes chimey layers like hanging mirrors reverberating amidst thunderous whelms of sound, opening in its homestretch a black hole of whirling noise, skittish percs and high-pitched claves absorbing everything in its wake. All in all ‘Low Doses‘ shows a natural flair for intricate sound architectures, rich of an evocative power and and a force of character that leaves you agape.
The three song EP, XPO 201-3, released earlier this week, finds Segalen and Porter continuing their conversations about sound via “polyrhythmic, hypnotic groove and experimental beats free of tempo and meter”.
While it is noted that these sessions were recorded from 2012-2013. No dust has settled on these free-roaming percussive ideas.
The nine-minute composition Into Wheel (LG) Version, by Les Graciés, carries a sheets of sound element to it. While the broken beat rhythmic pattern charges forth, two different atmospheric ideas pass the baton forward. It’s not an evolve or devolve move, more of a blossoming or giving away to another cordial and wooly audible. Gaël Segalen and Eric Douglas Porter aka Afrikan Sciences, collectively self-described as the “French-American tandem of a brother & a sister in sound”, play sonic hot potato by exchanging these on the fly phrasings. Operating as low and high-frequency call and response notations until the track evaporates out through a trap door amid a blitzkrieg of sound manipulation.
Les Graciés is a collaboration between Gaël Segalen of IhearU and Eric Douglas Porter of Afrikan Sciences. Following several years of musical exploration and recording, they released their debut LP Low Doses for Scotland’s Firecracker label in 2016. Put simply, their music is a fascinating melange of sound art and techno, moving beyond a collision of the two into a new realm of possibility. XPO 201-3 is an epilogue to Low Doses, which affords the pair “an opportunity to provide continued evidence of the power in which intersecting practices of sound/communication/technical exist alongside the mystic/hypnotic/spiritual”. “On The Rapid” starts with the feel of a raucous, syncopated house jam and sounds deftly modulated with a feeling of growth and propulsion. Voices appear deep enough in the mix to make you look over your shoulder to figure out where they’re coming from. Clanking bells sound like a passing train and an accompanying text reads: “The sounds of the multidimensional engines coincide with the chatter of indigenous market vendors.” It’s an immersive experience of improvised melodies and delicate synth work bathed in a flurry of noise. “Into Wheel (LG version)” is a new take on one of Segalen’s tracks from her album L’Ange le Sage. Whereas the initial version was a rattling exploration in sound, this one rumbles forward like the train heard in the previous track, an urgent tension growing into more rubato synth work. Electrics whir and sparks fly until the train comes to a stop. Beats splutter and jump, gasping for breath, caught and choked in time by a digital affray. “And Baby” is hard to pin down; A vocal sample lends the track its name, but straightforward sequences and phrases are nowhere to be found. Drum patterns come and go, reversed samples appear to present mournful sentiment. Crashing sounds overwhelm each movement and the lengthy conclusion ultimately becomes a slow death.