naturaliste - "temporary presence"
15 years after the last Naturaliste release, a CD on the now defunct Belgian label Imvated, the group reunited in Shanghai in January 2019 to rent an entire instrument shop for a night of improvisational recordings and evocative mic placement. Past recordings and live performance utilized thrift store electronics, box fans, amplified phone books (being torn apart), garbage bags of broken wine bottles and a fair amount of audience provocation; Temporary Presence manages to find atonal clamor, buzz and contemporary madness in elegant sources like upright and baby grand pianos, the Erhuand Guzheng.
Additional individual recordings (some instrumental passages, some vocal ramblings, & some street scenes) from Beijing, Oakland, Omaha, Pittsburgh & Shanghai were swapped by the quartet and spliced into the mix along with a hefty amount of audio manipulation. The shadow it leaves is an industrial howl and whine, a pulsing temporary presence. It could be the air conditioner or a man on the street buying cabbage, a head filled with ideas and the feet always out of step.
Like many sub-underground bands from the aughts, Naturaliste's discography of cassettes, CDRs, and compilation appearances was prolific and scattered across several dozen labels, but releases mostly served as blown out documents of shows or happenings, recorded with a walkman indiscriminately placed by an amp or bottle of beer. They passed time in the ghost streets of Omaha, until 2005 when all members disappeared elsewhere.
To some they were always just tumbleweeds, a temporary presence.
1. the swallows have returned
2. beijing nights
4. buying cabbages
5. it's just the air conditioner
6. at the worst of it
This quartet, made up of Bryan Day, Christopher Fischer, Charles LaReau and L. Eugene Methe, seems to have, in whole or in part, convened in Shanghai a couple of years ago, borrowed some instruments from a shop there (presumably to be paired with whatever unique rigs these guys were able to get past customs), and laid down some heavy sounds. These sounds were then augmented with sounds from the group members' various studios, and the whole thing pressed up onto a nice, thick, black slab of vinyl for the public's consumption.
That public should be very damn glad to have access to Temporary Presence, too. Well, at least those members of the public that enjoy improvised Electro-Acoustic and Noise sounds whirling about their senses. See, this work fires on all cylinders within those aesthetics. Within its mix of strange piano chords, percussive clatter, keening feedback, and disembodied voices, the album treats the listener to two sides of consistently gooey and downright deep sonic exploration. Each piece is paced in such a way as to hook your senses in. Once this happens, their effect burrows down further and further, taking your mind with it. Disaster Amnesiac has been particularly enamored with It's Just the Air Conditioner, side two's longer track. This piece lowers a sonic boom that is consistently mind altering. Seriously, when that track has played in my house, things have just stopped and I've been frozen into a state of pure, immersive bliss. It's here wherein all of the various elements just combine into a very compelling whole, one which is just so consistently pyschoid and downright deep as to be a mind blower with every single hearing. Elsewhere, you have the mysteriously titled The Swallows Have Returned with its ominous thrumming electrics and warped piano, Vitals which features some cool, by turns glassy and popping percussion, and At the Worst Of It, which concludes things with a nice, thick atmosphere. All the tracks on Temporary Presence just exude this undeniable mood; clearly something special transpired at Sandy Music in Shanghai.
Along with the great sounds, Temporary Presence benefits from a rich and sumptuous package that has some great Bryan Day asemic writing and cool type face. Dunno if the inner sleeve insert is just a blur by design, but that's kind of cool in its own way as well.
As usual, Disaster Amnesiac is chuffed to be on the receiving end of another package from the House of Day. Temporary Presence checks all of the boxes for me. Seek this one out, as it probably will for you if you're at all inclined to dig the kind of psychedelia that Naturaliste are so adept at dishing up. - Mark Pino, Disaster Amnesiac
* * *
Sitting conceptually somewhere between Partial's LL and R.O.T.'s Klein Eiland (and musically between early AMM and Melkings), Temporary Presence is a release that is claustrophobic only in regard to its origins. The recordings were captured over the course of a night in a rented-out music store, an approach that certainly implies some essential limitations, but the four inimitable members of the long-running but sporadically active Naturaliste project transform their finite supply of materials into shifting masses of abstract sound that extend well beyond any possible permutation of four-walls-and-a-roof. Plenty of the participating personnel have made names for themselves in the field of convention-defying instrumentation, especially inventor and miniature installation engineer Bryan Day, but the stuffed shelves and corners of the unidentified shop offer many a traditional flavor for the bubbling stew: considered strikes on both the inside and outside of a classical piano, jagged rakes across the strings of an off-tune zither (at some points I was fully convinced the next thing I would hear would be "ME is a meadow meal"), extended-technique violin, and more. As if the diversity of the purely “musical” elements wasn’t enough, Temporary Presence also evokes both defined and undefined space with additional auxiliary intrusions intentional and otherwise; a cavernous, spectral recitation here, the horn of passing car there; uncomfortably close clatter one moment, distant and detached din the next. Some say their spirits still haunt the building to this day - - “Oh don't worry about all the shit falling off the shelves for no apparent reason, we have a bit of a ghost infestation. No, no, they're not poltergeists, not pranksters; they genuinely believe they’re making music. - NOISE NOT MUSIC
* * *
An old piano works well when played with intensity. Keys striking taut wires trying to play above the swirl of cacophony. Temporary Presence produces an aural atmosphere filled with mechanical devices, clicking, chiming, breathing out a haze of electronic spirit. And then the essence of consciousness, ongoing thought from those who gather to create these sounds and influence of those who are no longer physically there. The connections to the vintage past both surges then dissipates, dimensional portholes drifting pass like clouds in front of the sun. Temporary Presence finds solace in a world weighed on by beauty in deterioration of discarded things. Alluring imperfections coming into being through times pressure of environmental fluctuations and those with the vision to channel this to our ears.
The project Naturaliste was formed in 1988 and played together through 2005. Temporary Presence is their first body of work in over fifteen years. Not sure of the members making up the band twenty years ago, but the group behind this newest composition is Bryan Day, Christopher Fischer, Charles LaReau and L. Eugene Methe. Each of these artists with their own vast experiences in bringing sounds to our ears from the fringe of acceptance. The focus of Temporary Presence is the aural weight it carries while still being digestible by the surrounding world. These tracks combing instruments we know with sounds and processes mysteriously advanced. And from what is not understood, there is an element of fear. Following this path of thought, Temporary Presence would read and initially listen as a push towards a haunted environment filled with skin crawling sonic clatter. After listening through a few times, thoughts become more glued to how the individual sounds are created and brought together. What initially seemed otherworldly has now become clear and present in the place we are now. The congruence in sonic atmosphere from beginning to end is the real pleasure Naturaliste have shared. This composition brings you to experience a strange and fascinating place, never pushing to far but consistently maintaining the aural space they have traveled and worked very hard to share.
After describing sounds for a while now, i think this is the first release done with four labels sharing the work. These are Almost Halloween Time, Gertrude Tapes, Public Eyesore / eh?, and Unread Records & Tapes. I did not see Temporary Presence available for purchase from Bari, Italy's Almost Halloween Time, but the other three labels have links to pick this up. Also this a very limited edition of only one hundred pressings housed in beautiful two color screen printed covers. - LOST IN A SEA OF SOUND