Secret Thirteen Mix 172 - Julien Bayle

Julien Bayle aka Protofuse Music Review

Photo by Denis Laffont

The live modular synth improvisation by Julien Bayle is a bewildering structure of rhythmic intersections and chasms in a field of electric noise.

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Julien Bayle is a French audio and visual artist who performs under his own name and under the protofuse moniker. An engineer and programmer in addition to being an artist, Julien builds his own gear and codes his own sequencers in order to make elaborate programmed installations and performances, mostly exploring the relationship between light and sound and sonic physicality. Julien Bayle’s sound were widely showcased in a number of releases on such labels as Yatra Arts and Bordille Records. He has been interested in these explorations since back around 1990, and has since taken part in numerous exhibitions and performed throughout Europe, USA and especially at ELEKTRA Festival in Montréal, Canada in 2015. Currently he teaches digital art at École Supérieure d’Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerrannée and is working on a new audiovisual live performance concept using modular synthesizers and sequencers. Secret Thirteen happens to be a stop on the way towards this goal, as he recently did a video for us together with Aurelie Vial and now this “mix”.

Let’s get something out of the way immediately - Secret Thirteen Mix 172 is first of all a misnomer. It is not a mix in any sense of the term, rather, Julien has given us an exclusive live performance using his newest modular synth setup pictured below, and its name is “Parasites Compressor”. The recording is an improvisation with modular synthesizers and is Julien’s first one to be made “from silence to silence”. Using two low-frequency oscillators instead of a global master clock to drive all modules, he creates a combination of rhythmic patterns that sounds like a collapse indefinitely delayed. Julien uses machines to catch the electric noise of the equipment (electric parasites, as it were), amplifies and compresses it - hence the title. “Parasites Compressor” is, essentially, a recording of machinery ordering chaos. It resembles Frederick Hammersley’s hard-edge painting “Sanforized, #1” where cool black abstractions symmetrically lie on the clear background. The viewer’s concentration, patience and imagination are necessary to fully absorb work’s aesthetics and the coded message within the geometrics of this masterpiece - just as in Bayle’s skillfully generated live recording. Both works radiate with the feeling of having been made by artificial intelligence, but in reality both of these works stand as good examples of how far a human’s mind can travel to create forward-thinking art.

Julien Bayle

Julien Bayle's synth modular setup

Bayle on his live recording

This live recording is the real first one done from silence to silence, I mean: by building the logic behind the system completely from scratch and by pulling out the audio cable at the end for finishing. Exploring improvisation with modular synthesizers, I'm trying to build rhythmic structures by using unusual methods. For instance, I'm not really interested in a global master clock driving all my modules related to a particular pattern. I'd prefer to use uncanny ways like : using two low-frequency oscillators (LFO) and check where they cross themselves to generate triggers. This is a powerful source for creating very strange linear and non-linear musical structures. It also provides a very nice way of control; this is not "just" controlling a tempo, but controlling the resulting tempo (which is changing cyclically) by controlling LFO's frequencies. I used this to work with electric parasites here. I used some specific machines able to "listen"to electric noise in the machines and I amplified them, and used a compressor with make-up for magnifying them. Indeed, Parasites Compressor live is really related to the concept of trying to organize (by filtering, by recycling and by compressing) the chaos.

There are about 4 moments in this live performance. Each one of them has its own characters. All have been recorded in one shot, live, without any automation and from scratch, which means, with no modules already connected at the beginning.


01. Julien Bayle - Parasites Compressor (Live Recording)

About Author

Tadas Švenčionis is a Secret Thirteen editor and journalist. He organizes the occasional event in Lithuania and is obsessed with the harsh, the sad, the delirious, and the political.

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