Robert Cahen
La nef des fous
Recollection GRM
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REGRM029 / Includes Download Code
Embossed sleeve, printed inner
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1La nef des fous 12:01
2Masques 2 8:35
3Plurielles 8:35
4Persona 8:35
5Passé composé 5:30

In the 1970s, Robert Cahen turned to the burgeoning field of video art, where he became a pioneering artist. He was originally trained in musique concrète, his creative background, and joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in 1972. The pieces on this record were composed in the GRM studios between 1971 and 1974. They testify to a lively inspiration and imagination combined with a precocious formal mastery that already carries the seeds of later developments, which the artist cleverly and inventively deployed in the field of visual arts. (François Bonnet, Paris, 2022)


«La nef des fous» (1974), 12’00

There are pieces of music whose title is obviously a mere label given afterwards to a finished product. And others, on the contrary, which develop in spiral around a bundle of images and impressions condensed into a few words. This is the case indeed with La nef des fous. However, this work by Robert Cahen oddly wraps itself around its title, with bends, breaks, and an impetus driven further every time to close a new circle, for such is the very essence of the spiral. This, at least, is the way I perceive the form of the work, with its theme-chorus which, in part one, both ponctuates and disrupts the emerging musical curve in various ways and at irregular intervals, as well as its broader and more open second part, which closes with a recollection of the beginning of the work. The challenge of a musical form justified by the topic it illustrates, right down to its gaps, its wanderings and its twists, and which would confer upon it the necessity of a profound logic, that of insanity, is the challenge attempted by Robert Cahen. In such a genre as tape music, so careful with respect to form, one can appreciate its audacity. La nef des fous, or Unity through heterogeneity, or Each to their own madness, but all in the same boat. This means that if we can listen to each of these sound characters, “broken chants”, which create the work for themselves, through the singularity of their delirium, we can also, from one to the other, trace the continuous chanting of a music that is inherently and spontaneously poetic, a music that carries “the unconscious under its skin” (Christiane Sacco). (Michel Chion, January 1976)

«Masques 2» (1973), 08’34

Concert version (for tape only) of an audiovisual work entitled Masques, in which the faces of old dolls and «masks», filmed during the Basel Carnival, were projected in 16mm. Masques 2 is a metaphorical version of Masques in which music is featured in its arcane musicality.
Through its concrete and suggestive music Masques 2 aims to bring to light hidden memories, buried within us, thus enabling an awakening, the resurgence of events from our own history. (R. C.)

«Plurielles» (1971), 08’35

Premiered at the Paris Biennale, 24 September 1971. Suite based on the score of a TV film directed by Sophie Talmon.

«Persona» (1971), 08’34

Premiered at the Paris Biennale, 24 September 1971.

«Passé composé» (1971), 05’29