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NOGRAY, FREDERIC - Merua

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Unfathomless U23
Release Year: 2014
Note: jungle field recordings made near a 'magic place' / mountain of the local Garifuna people in Honduras - mainly based on wooshing insect-sounds and layers of chirping, but also other strange animals seem to appear... all compounded for a nicely developing composition that goes through various phases and gains lots of energy during the course.. lim. 200
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"Merua is a magic place for the Garifunas, and also one of awe. Only those considered as initiated go through this sanctuary. Its a refuge for the spirits of the Ancestors from the beliefs of this mixed culture that finds its roots both in Africa and South America. Its a plot of dense jungle, a snakes nest, intact despite its small size and the fact that its perimeter is occupied by humans. A perimeter composed of two villages (Triunfo de la Cruz and La Ensenada), the mangrove and the lake at its feet, and the sea that borders it for almost half of its circumference.

The beliefs of the buyeis (spirit leaders of the Garifuna traditions) are among other things a blend of African voodoo and shamanism stemming from the Amazonian basin.

To narrate Merua, Ive thus drawn on my memories: the experience of my encounter with the Amazonian shamanism. Or maybe, itd be more correct to say that to tell my Amazonian experiences, I use the matter and feelings of those trips into Garifuna land.

The shamanic experience (as I lived it) is uncomfortable, intoxicating, powerful and uncompromising. One cant go through it with hands in the pockets, like a tourist. It takes its roots into the depths of our body and being to reveal us. From the darkness and its acceptation surges the light, the understanding. The experience is all but calm, and its nonetheless a way to reach a deep peace. The grace is offered to the one who dares to face his fears, questions his own systems of beliefs. Getting through the illusions of who we believe to be to find ourselves. The trance is demanding. Its a leap into the unknown. The one that hides itself in what we already believe to know about.

Merua, the sound piece, is a reflection of that passage. We think we hear something. But its something else that is at play into the sounds and the listening experience, something that defies our perceptions. If we dont pay attention we only hear a succession of exotic landscapes. In fact movements of forces bind and unbind, interweave till the loss of landmarks. Elements used are natural, the way they are given to be heard is not. The sound matter becomes energy. Manipulation of energies creates a new matter across the fog of our perceptions.

For that, itd have been much easier to start from abstract elements (the use of field recordings orientates necessarily the listening). Though, on the contrary, Ive chosen to use this experience in Honduras and the sounds I brought back from these two trips on the spot. Its over there, at the foot of Merua and its surroundings that I found back into my body, into my guts, the sensations I encountered in Amazonia.

This composition is a transcription attempt of an experience lived in a specific place and at a given moment via the use of a sound matter coming from another space, recorded 7 years later, thus with an acoustic color, fragrance which is the one of this Caribbean coast.

All sounds were field recorded at different venues on the North Coast of Honduras, between the cities of Tela and La Ceiba in August 2012."
[Frdric Nogray, September 2014]


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"French composer Frdric Nogray stayed in Honduras in August 2012. To be precise, he stayed on the Caribbean North Coast of Honduras between the cities of Tela and La Ceiba and near the Garifuna people. Merua is a mountain where Nogray recorded some sounds but upon returning home there was nothing on the soundcard; such is the way of the local Buyei, a local shaman. However Nogray recorded other stuff and composed a piece out of those sounds. This piece, close to forty minutes, is one of great power. It seems to be constructed entirely (almost entirely) of insect sounds and nothing much else, but these recordings are cleverly put together and make up dense patterns of high-pitched sounds. Now, you could all too easily think this comes without much variation, but thats not true. It seems to be shifting back and forth around various sounds; sometimes it seems Nogray created a rhythmic element in these sounds, especially after the twenty-fifth minute mark. Not in a techno sense, but its slow yet repetitive. Heavy is perhaps a word one doesnt use all too often when dealing with this kind of music, but this is all quite heavy I would think. The on-going high chirping, the deep ends, almost bass like sighing I heard and the endless amount of layers of sound together. Only the final bit is very soft, as a kind of coda. A great release this one: play this loudly and youll be dealing with the best noise release in some time." [FdW/Vital Weekly]