?I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it? - John Cage
The aim of this unique project was to include five recorded versions of John Cage?s famous ?4?33??? as performed by the 0 (pronounce ?zero?) ensemble which includes French musician Sylvain Chauveau. In other words, this shouldn?t be more than a collection of silent tracks ! However, it may be necessary to go back to some of the original intentions behind Cage?s piece to fully understand the true goal of Chauveau?s first release on his label Onement.
?4?33??? was first performed in 1952 by pianist David Tudor who used a stopwatch to mark the three sections of the piece. First, he began by lowering the piano lid, then put his hands on his knees before finally lifting the lid, all this without having ever touched the keys.
Far from being a ?silent? piece, it more accurately corresponded to the amount of (unwanted) noise which came out of the performance space. Today, it is still considered to be Cage?s most famous work as well as one of the most important artistic gestures of the 20th century along with Stravinsky?s ?Rite of Spring? or Suicide?s own ?23 Minutes over Brussels?.
This CDR gives us a new opportunity to go beyond the mere ?provocative? aspects of such a piece and to reflect more deeply upon some of its key implications.
First, it is very important to note that each surrounding environment has been very carefully recorded, my guess being that it is only with such an attention that the listener may be responsive to the whole project. Each sound world thus remains very unique, displaying an elusive quality nonetheless.
Furthermore, rather than focusing on the clarity of the field recordings, there is a peculiar ?felt? presence within each track that is, of course, characterized by what is not being performed. Here the ?ghost notes? are not only ?played? by the environment, but also by the space left to the listener?s imagination amongst the little information she or he has on the actual conditions of the recording (see the ?myspace? contact for full description). Notwithstanding the fact that each version will always be different according to the place and time you?re going to play them.
Nevertheless, there are 5 different versions of ?4?33??? on this CDR, the fourth one consisting ?only? of digital silence, i.e. a silent track. What could be the acoustic ?environment? of such a piece and how does it relate to Cage?s original intentions?
In my opinion, this inclusion is far from being merely provocative? again. It can even be seen as an update of sorts on Cage?s own musical and philosophical thoughts as it further questions the traditional frontiers between sound and one?s own perception of ?silence?. This may recall what Jeph Jerman has called the ?second attention?, a discipline which concentrates on sound by aiming at eliminating everything that interferes with listening, including emotions and thoughts which are often considered to be ?direct perception?. In this case, one could say that we are the performer, that we are our own ensemble.
Personally, I found the inclusion of this track of digital silence to hold the very key to this particular project, thus reinforcing its overall impact and rendering all the more important Cage?s timeless invitation to listen to the world and to ourselves. And it is to the credit of Sylvain Chauveau and the 0 ensemble for reminding us so gracefully that Cage?s original title for his ?4?33?? was ?A Silent Prayer?. 9/10 -- Francois Hubert (24 July, 2006)