SF07 LASSE-MARC RIEK - Saison Concrète

1. Saison Concrète

Lasse-Marc Riek, musician and concept artist, combines and condenses sounds of the four seasons into a acoustic journey.

Sounds of the four seasons, condensed into one acoustic valuable – that describes the work of conceptual artist Lasse-Marc Riek. Birds migrating in late summer livestock returning from the alps in fall and April's showers are some of the more recognizable incidents. Above all, the artist forms a fascinating soundscape by working with a huge variety of sounds and noises, and with each acoustic part he creates a composition complete by itself. Saison Concrète – coltish and jaunty or unfathomable melancholic – cover the span of a whole year. Thus, Riek's journeys through nature's sounds subtly turn into reflections about the nature of sounds. (Stefan Militzer)

format: CD in DVDBOX ltd. 500

Price: €14.00 - worldwide incl shipping

The work “Saison Concrète” was composed by the source of 12 parts run Kalenderstücke (Geräusch des Monats) during 2010 at Deutschlandradio Kultur.

Lasse-Marc Riek (1975, Germany) uses different forms of expression in his producing. His works are interdisciplinary and can be conceived as groups of works of both visual art (action and conceptual art) and sound art. His art of sound can be described in terms such as acoustic ecology, bio acoustics and soundscapes. Here, Riek uses acoustic field recordings, storing them with different recording media, editing, archiving and presenting them in different contexts.

Since 1997, he has operated internationally with exhibitions, releases, concerts, lectures, workhops, awards, projects and given guest performances in galleries, art museums, churches and museums. Contributions in public media as well as in podcasts. Scholarships and artist-in-residence programs realised in Europe and Africa.

Since 2003 founder member of the audio publishing company Gruenrekorder, focusing on soundscapes, field recordings and electro-acoustic compositions, and in this connection, acting internationally with artists and scientists.

Member of the Forum Klanglandschaft (World Forum for Acoustic Ecology ), Verein zur Förderung von Phonographie und Experimenteller Musik (Society for the Advancement of Phonography and Experimental Music) and the Wildlife Sound Recording Society.

format: CD in DVDBOX ltd. 500


As the title suggests, an evocation of the seasons via musique concrete means, though not overtly so. It begins slowly and not so distinguished from much other work in this field but gradually coalesces into something thickly mysterious, cavernous and immersive. That depth doesn't last too long though and the rest of the trip, while pleasant enough as it passes, doesn't really hit me so hard, It ends rather too cutely with a snatch of barrel organ (thought the ghost of Breuker appeared for a moment!). Not bad, not essential


Having listened to so many Gruenrekoder releases over the past couple of years, I automatically think of the label when I hear the name Lasse-Marc Riek, given that the Germany-born conceptual and sound artist is a founding member of the audio publishing company that since 2003 has issued all manner of splendid soundscapes, field recordings, and electro-acoustic recordings. But let's not forget that he's a music producer in his own right, with his Saison Concrète release (500 CD copies) on the Russian Semper Florens label a recent example of his work. He might just as naturally have released it on Gruenrekoder, given its field recordings-based concept and design.


It's an uninterrupted, forty-four-minute acoustic rendering of the four seasons, an entire year's array of sounds condensed into a single, detail-packed soundscape. The material follows its own idiosyncratic journey, becoming explosive and turbulent during one episode and restful and pacifying the next, with Riek including sounds both literally evocative of nature elements and others more abstract and open to interpretation. Sounds flow together with nary a moment separating them, resulting in a fluid travelogue of ever-changing character.

Many of the sounds are, of course, derived from acoustic field recordings designed to reinforce the seasonal theme of the recording. Human and non-human forms interact alongside sounds associated with natural and industrial phenomena, with all of it artfully arranged and sequenced and Riek careful to not overwhelm the listener with too much detail at any given moment—though the total effect is psychotropic and even, at times, dizzying. Encountered during the trip: rain drizzle and thunder, assorted scrapes and creaks, a downpour so huge and violent it suggests a tsunami, the aggressive cries of birds, crowds of people talking, bell tones resounding, music boxes and cowbells tinkling, insect swarms buzzing, sheep bleating and dogs whimpering, machines and vehicles rumbling and rattling, and church bells ringing.Saison Concrète is so encompassing, in fact, it could be used as a prototype for collage-based field recordings-based projects of its kind, as a primer to introduce listeners new to the sound art genre, for example.



Sting’s words were written for a loved one, but they also apply to this release. Saison Concrète is the sound chronicle of a year, an exquisitely designed symphony of sound from Gruenrekorder’s. Riek’s field recording work is well known, but this single long-form piece sets off in an entirely different direction. The key components are the mixture of natural and human elements and the addition of dronelike sounds. It’s the album The Avalanches might have recorded had they been armed with microphones instead of turntables.

For the first few minutes, the sound is barely audible, and one thinks, oh, this is relaxing. But then the pings and pops and rustles and hums set in – sounds that could be expanding ice or factory steam. A gentle, cold rain begins to fall; a sheep bleats, perhaps disgruntled after a long walk. The dual mystery of sound origin and seasonal location only adds to the allure. These recordings are not necessarily arranged by time as much as they are by memory, and memory follows a loose chronology at best. It’s not important to know whether the flock of birds is migrating during a storm or finding shelter; we are able to make up our own stories, prompted by the sonic map. A man tells his granddaughter about the beautiful churches of his youth; chimes toll; private school children pour onto the playground. But time passes so fast, and innocence is lost; already it’s summer, and swarms of bees are on the move. If only we could return to who we once were. If only we had made better decisions. Now the winter is approaching, and we have not yet begun to cut the wood. The sled dogs howl quizzically beside us, waiting to be tethered. We’re all waiting for something, but it passes by like impersonal traffic. But then through the wind and the woods we hear it once again: the traveling carnival has returned to the village, trailing streamers of hope and age-flecked paint. We have made it through another year.

Richard Allen


Now here’s a very good CD. Lasse-Marc Riek is a German musician / composer / sculptor of sounds, describe him as you will. he runs the Gruenrekorder label but this new solo album, titled Saison Concréte is released on the Russian Semper Florens label as an edition of 500 housed in a DVD sized box. Now, this composition, a single forty-four minute work is crafted from a collection of field recordings, some played straight and some processed. Amongst the material used are recordings of water, rain, wind, thunder, birdsong, in fact most of the list of predictable elements that usually have me screaming about how little originality there is in this area of music. Somehow though, and here lies the essence of something I am always at a loss to explain- these sounds are all twisted together, along with a number of other more original recordings, to make something that has far more energy and vitality about it than we normally hear in this kind of work.

When it began, I feared the worst for this disc. After a very gradual rise up out of an extended opening silence a grey whispery roar rumbles away for a while. I can’t quite tell what it is, but it resembles the wind in leafy trees. Then a passage of dreamy, drifty choral sounds appears, and the music threatens to disappear into new age ambience when crash, some kind of heavily treated streak of sound rips across everything, followed quickly by many more, resembling some kind of sci-fi laser weapon shootout for a bit, throwing everything up in the air as if feeding the music through a shredder to see what came out the other side. From there the music flows on into snatches of just about everything, from what I believe could be the sound of boats rocking rhythmically slowly against a harbour to swarms of insects, barking packs of dogs and a few noisy sheep, including one stand-out moment when a single baaa, processed somehow into a slightly sinister yell appears from nowhere amongst some unrelated sounds.

It is very hard for me to pin down what sets this disc apart from much field recording arrangement for me. Perhaps it is the element of surprise that often springs up, perhaps it is just something about the way the various, on the whole excellently recorded, field recordings are juxtaposed, so that soft sounds collide with crashing chunks of sonic debris, chattering birds dissolve out of thunderstorms and fragment into the soft chug of a diesel engine, which in turn is hushed by long metallic chimes. A brief collapse of everything into near silence roughly halfway through the disc is recovered by a clockwork-like tapping and children’s voices, more sheep, bells and all kinds of scratchy, crackling detritus that is somehow all combined really well into something that just all works together. The music never stands still, but while this could be claimed about much other inferior work of this type, it isn’t a case of a bunch of disparate items faded into one another, there has been a lot of thought put into what works well together, and how the ingredients can all be combined in such a way that they give the music momentum and energy. This isn’t a CD celebrating the art of field recording, but a carefully, intensely composed piece of modern musique concréte.

It isn’t always perfect. The energy built up in certain passages perhaps only serve to underline one or two areas where the music flags a little, but as with the powerful opening, when rings begin to drift into predictable areas the music seems to wake itself up quite quickly. I am still not sure what I think about the composition’s ending either, as heaving church bells are gradually overtaken by some kind of seaside carousel / barrel organ that brings the composition to a sudden halt. I love the sound of such machines, but the kitsch element here could be just a little too much, especially as such novelty isn’t present anywhere else, but each time I listen I feel differently about it, and always smiling to myself at the tune as it plays, so maybe its the perfect ending simply because of how it leaves me wondering.

Good stuff then, an exciting, razor-sharp composition that extends field recording arrangement into something more than just polite layering of beautiful sounds. This of course isn’t the only example of music like this. Eric LaCasa’s W2, Cordier and Murayama’s Nuit and a number of others work well in similar ways, but its nice to have a further addition to the canon.