Thursday, 16 July, 2009

Heiner Goebbels - Ou Bien le Débarquement Désastreux (1995)

Heiner Goebbels' and Boubakar Djebate's "Ou bien le débarquement désastreux" (Or the Hapless Landing) is a melodrama, text spoken over or against music. There are three strands of text, spoken mostly in French (Andre Wilms), on the subject of forests: Joseph Conrad's Congo Diary; Francis Ponge's meditative Pinewood Notebook of 1940; and Heiner Mueller's Herakles 2, describing the hero's search for the Hydra ('the forest is the beast').

There are two strands of music: African, or more precisely Senegalese (Djebate), and contemporary Western (Goebbels). The virtuose Djebate plays the kora, a harp constructed from a pumpkin, and a very well-tempered harp it is too, with nothing 'primitive' about it. Sira Djebate sings traditional Senegalese Griots quite exquisitely. Against them are ranged trombone, electric guitar, keyboard-sampler and - bridging the divide - the Daxophon, a small piece of wood sounded by a bow and amplified: the range of jungular noises it produces it simply bewildering.

As in all melodrama there is conflict between word and note: it is more difficult for the human brain to absorb the two when the words are not simply set to music. There is also a conflict between two musical languages. At first I resented Goebbels' jazz-based, somewhat brutal modernism intruding on the less familiar Senegalese sound-world; gradually it became more African, with the trombonist Yves Robert sounding as though he had long been studying the cries of elephants. While nothing so vulgar as a synthesis was achieved, African rhythms eventually tempered and somehow tamed European inventions, just as Ponge's vaguely upbeat musings conversely tempered the terrors of Conrad and Mueller. That is just one reaction: as in all the best journeys into forests, there was no telling exactly where you were going. But at just over an hour, it was a musical journey that gripped the imagination from first to last. Rodney Milnes, The Times 5/7/95

1. Longtemps Il Crut Encore (0:50)
2. Samedi, 28. Juin (3:01)
3. Les Premiers Jours (1:16)
4. Jeudi, 3. Juillet (3:14)
5. Longtemps, Longtemps, Longtemps (0:38)
6. Vendredi, 4. Juillet (1:51)
7. Samedi, 5. Juillet (0:51)
8. Comme Le Vent Augmentait (1:35)
9. Mardi, 8. Juillet (4:21)
10. Cette Forêt (2:21)
11. Vendredi, 25. Juillet 1890 (1:36)
12. Il Eut Du Mal (3:58)
13. Mardi, 29 (2:49)
14. Fili (2:21)
15. S'adapter Et Ne Pas S'adapter (2:38)
16. 3. Août 1890 (1:14)
17. 9 Heures Après (0:20)
18. Dangoma (3:07)
19. Il Comprit (3:42)
20. Mort Aux Mères (1:51)
21. Koulanja (2:15)
22. Haches, Couteaux, Tentacules (4:26)
23. 7. Août 1940 - Après-Midi (2:33)
24. Le Soir (1:40)
25. Manilo (2:03)
26. 8. Août 1940 (1:46)
27. 13 Août 1940 - Matin (2:25)
28. 20. Août 1940 (3:46)
29. Sunyatta (2:45)
30. Dans Le Silence Blanc (0:51)
31. Fin Du Bois Du Pins (0:47)

Moussa Sissoko - djembe
Alexandre Meyer - electric guitar, table-guitar, daxophone 
Boubakar Djebate - kora, vocals
Yves Robert - trombone
Sira Djebate - vocals
André Wilms - voice
Xavier Garcia - keyboards, sampler
Heiner Goebbels - sampler

Music by Boubakar Djebate & Heiner Goebbels 
Texts by:
Francis Ponge (tracks: 23, 26 to 28, 31)
Heiner Müller (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 8, 10, 12, 15, 19, 20, 22, 30)
Joseph Conrad (tracks: 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16, 17) 
Released by ECM Records in 1995.



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