Un Drame Musical Instantané – A Reissue & Remix Project via DDD Paris

DDD, a Paris record store and label, recently released a reissue of a 1984 album by the experimental ensemble Un Drame Musical Instantané. As you can see from the artwork scan, it comes packaged with a nude, transparent 12″ featuring some newly produced remixes. I produced a Tuff Sherm remix for this project. It was solicited quite mysteriously from Xavier Ehretsmann of DDD so it was a nice surprise when the packaging and other remixers’ names emerged.

The other remixes and re-workings come from Thurston Moore, Jorge Velez and Eltron John. Appropriately it was Moore’s famous list of favourite free jazz and improv records that really accelerated some of my favourite musical discoveries and realisations as a teenager. Pieces like Alan Silva’s ‘Luna Surface’ (not even directly in the top 10 albums featured in his list but rather factoring into one of the list’s generous and informative asides), Milford Graves and Don Pullen’s ‘Nommo,’ The Frank Wright Quartet’s ‘Uhuru Na Umoja’ album featured on it, and it was also the first place I read about players including Arthur Doyle, Marzette Watts and Sonny Murray. So this list/article of Thurston’s (along with numerous excellent and now largely vanished and universally inactive blogs) opened me up to entirely new worlds of free playing. I know this sort of music may not seem to factor into what I do currently – tweaking away on a DAW, piecing things together slowly, something that would appear to be well and truly ‘composing’ and not playing – but it was extremely formative. Free playing, academically ‘wrong’ playing, experimental instruments, experimental approaches to existing instruments – these are all still frequently the paths taken to get to the final sound design idea, even if they’re not directly present on the records I make now.

A full version of that Thurston Moore list/article has been preserved via the equally excellent Root Strata blog – and it’s certainly worth a read (Though I can’t vouch for any of the links within it working).

Un Drame Musical Instantané, per Wikipedia, is a group that ‘since its creation in 1976, featuring Jean-Jacques Birgé, Bernard Vitet and Francis Gorgé, has decided to promote collective musical creation, co-signing their albums, which they consider as artworks in themselves, or their live shows which they try to renew every time they play.’ This album was a live recording of improvised score and interaction by 15 players with a projection of the Dziga Vertov film Man With a Movie Camera. You can freely listen to and navigate a comprehensive collection of recordings by Birge and the group (as well as associated performances) on the impressive drame.org website.

I met Jean-Jacques Birgé when I played a Tuff Sherm set in Paris in 2013. I joined him on a part-live, part-DJ lineup that also included Ron Morelli and Jorge Velez (who has also contributed a remix to this release). The night was programmed and booked by Xavier of DDD so that should begin to explain some of the connections at work with the remix package.

This was one of the most interesting remixes I’ve ever worked on. Rather than being provided with isolated mix stems or a master file, I was handed a copy of the original record in Paris which I carried back to Australia. I made an uncompressed recording of both sides of the LP and proceeded to edit the sounds and loops from there. So it’s the only time I’ve remixed a physical thing.

I remember doing two completely different versions of the remix and, when I began work on the second, I made the callous and emotionally-charged decision to delete the project file (and exported wav!) of the first. In trying to recall how different those two versions were all I can remember is that the tempo was significantly different – not the slow chug of the final one – so that gives you some idea. When, some months later, Xavier ultimately decided on a preference for Version One I then of course wasn’t able to provide the wav for mastering. For some reason though I had decided to preview it to him as a wav file (unusual for a draft) and it still survived at that link, more-or-less an appropriate pre-master… Xavier gave me a bit of a scolding about this impetuous deletion habit and it was a turning point for how I’ve organised projects ever since (keeping everything).