By David Sanson
Appearing unusual at first, this collaboration between Mexican electronica figurehead Fernando Corona (better known as Murcof) and French classical pianist Vanessa Wagner surrenders a sublime logic, informed by contemporary musicians’ boundless curiosity and genre-deafness. Minimalism was the conveyance here – pulsating, introspective and trance-inducing, it forms the perfect petri dish in which to mingle often-insular genres. Wagner has made no bones of her love for the richness of contemporary genres, and Murcof has been playfully sampling the works of Arvo Pärt and Morton Feldman shaping them into dark, sweeping cinematic full-lengths. The result is music where the intensity of textures couples with the richness of harmonies, and where trance-like rhythms emerge from the depths of sonic rifts.
The project’s genesis was on stage, during the pianist’s no-holds-barred invitation to perform at Metz’s Arsenal. Vanessa Wagner had long dreamed of collaborating with a classical outsider, one who worked heavily on sonic textures at that; Murcof’s name came up rather naturally. His ethereal, almost mystical style, inhabiting an intense and melancholic universe shaped intuitively with a jeweler’s precision, offered a sort of guarantee against facile side slipping into “boom-boom + classical” crossovers. Standing firmly behind the potential provocativeness of the result, evoking combined desires to “travel from one universe to another,” and for “porosity, curiosity and openness,” in the spirit of open collaboration, Vanessa Wagner speaks in terms of “braiding” and “weaving” to describe the end result of the encounter – one where she remains anchored in her world, that of a contemporary classical performer focusing on the sheet music (such as Aphex Twin’s April 14th for example). InFiné, in its grand tradition of presenting wide-angle performers such as Francesco Tristano, Gaspar Claus, Bruce Brubaker and Bachar Mar-Khalifé, is proud to deliver the recorded document of this encounter.
From Érik Satie to Aphex Twin, and from Philip Glass’ America to Valentin Silvestrov’s Ukraine, with a view to John Cage or Morton Feldman’s sonic landscapes and an ear towards John Adams’s hypnotic grooves, Statea (an old Italian word for “balance”) is a testament to a wide-ranging conception of this minimalism that Wagner sees as “the root of contemporary techno”. The recording features a movement from György Ligeti’s Musica Ricercata (recalling Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut,) as well as Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (with Van Sant’s Gerry as its cinematic pendant). Alternately echoing and mirroring Wagner’s piano in real time, Murcof’s loops and textures reveal and multiply perspectives on genre, shifting from ambient to electro, to give these a newfound depth of field and resonance. On stage, as on their upcoming InFiné full-length, this fascinating ping-pong game immerses the listener in a timeless, endless world of sound. A widescreen, wide-eyed journey for open ears and open minds.