CD, Sound On Probation, 2008
A towering work of alien unease, Laurent Perrier’s second release as Pylône offers deeply hypnotic realms. “Grounded Hands” even improves on “Black Grains” (2006), though comparable in format: five extensive tracks probing the limits of esoteric, futuristic dark ambient. Perrier’s distinct, uncluttered sound is replete with insectile movements and their accompanying microcosms. Shadowy and unnerving, soaked in pops and clicks, crumbling and crackling (the inevitable soundtrack of disintegrating hardware), “Grounded Hands” offers impeccable production, sounds and textures, potent in its precision.
The disc begins with a cavernous bass pulse, soon overtaken by sounds like shorting circuitry, a piercing machine tone and, on top of that, a swarm of digital locusts. In short, a paradigmatic example of what is in store for the dedicated listener. The inscrutable themes of space and emptiness, engineered or chaotic environments, and high- versus low-frequency energies are revisited time and again within Pylône’s incredible domain. Opening track “Sens 3” plays for a daunting twenty-one minutes, morphing through various textures, from gravelly scratching to shrill, fluttering wings and metal cables manipulated as if bowed instruments. These tensile noises are carried forward into “Malséant”, then left to smolder somewhere between stressed metal and enigmatic computations. Succeeding tracks further establish this circular trajectory; each composition blends seamlessly with its neighbors, reinforcing the album’s inherent hermeticism.
The album is stark, austere and functional; its ample subsonics spine-tingling and wavering trebles overpowering. Pylône’s alien structures demand concentration, however the minimal rhythmic elements employed are meditative. Drum vibrations in “Idem Part.1” repeat, becoming bolder until wiped away by resonating bass, which ushers in a virtual jungle (frogs, crickets). A soothing, pulsing tone, slowly paced, preludes atmospheric drone layers and sonorous bass in the grandiose “Dense Des Couteaux”. This is the soundscape of planetary desolation, the casually relaxed stretching of space and time. Returning later in the piece as a more distinct ringing bell, the pulse then morphs into a drawn-out sonar beacon, echoing into nothingness, building strata into a continuous reverberation.
Ultimately Pylône produces soundscapes of restraint, engineered for the macroscopic, even galactic, scale, yet contradictive in their investigation of microscopic elements. It is as if Perrier – miniscule as a dust mite – has reconned within the bowels of unimagined supercomputers and recorded a taste of that experience. Contrasts may cycle it onward, but “Grounded Hands” as a whole is nothing short of mesmerizing.
— Dutton Hauhart