A question any creative person is asked, especially by those not familiar with their work, is what style or kind of music/art/poetry/sculpture/film do you make? I have frequently struggled with this, but then realised that perhaps inventing my very own genre was the very best way forward. And as such, ‘Flâneur Électronique’ was born.
If you aren’t familiar with this word ‘flâneur,’ it’s a French term meaning ‘stroller’ used by nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire to identify an observer of modern urban life. It’s the keen-eyed stroller who chronicles the minutiae of city life in their own personal way. For me this suggestion of wandering, exploring unknown territories, chancing upon things I might never otherwise have engaged with was perfect. And of course, ‘électronique’ for the French interpretation fits perfectly.
Remixing in the style of Flâneur Électronique
The funny thing is that no-one ever questioned the meaning, as if this was an authentic style recognised by others. My form of ‘electronic wandering’ was first adapted in the 1990s. In fact, I began to use it for recording titles and remixes. So, when I remixed Scorn, the group formed in the early 1990s as a side project of former Napalm Death members Mick Harris and Nic Bullen, I entitled my remix Night Tide (Scanner – “Flaneur Electronique” Mix).
And I performed my own live interpretation of this musical genre live many times under this very same title.
Right now I know that many friends and colleagues have been struggling with anxiety, a feeling of feeling disconnected and simply trying to remain sane in this lockdown scenario, whilst the media relentlessly drowns us in overwhelmingly scary statistics and stories. So, in response to this, my good friend Ben / DivKid, and I decided to come up with something very playful for this special day, 1st April. Ben’s work focuses very much on electronic music and synthesisers, and his YouTube channel is an invaluable wealth of information to anyone interested in modular synths and unusual instruments.
Modernist arty bollocks promotion
We felt it was a very delicate time to be too playful, as everyone seems more attuned and sensitive than usual, so with a very light touch today, we launched the Flâneur module to our audience. As it’s very succinctly described, “The flâneur explores the relationship between the wandering wave form and the theoretical limits of the moment. With influences as diverse as Camus and Miles Davis, new combinations are generated from both mundane and transcendant textures.“
And taking the ridiculous to the sublime it continues:
“Sound that begins as a yearning soon corrodes into a cacophony of sonic lust, leaving only a sense of acoustic dust and the inevitability of a new understanding. As audio forms become frozen through boundaried and critical practice, the listener is left with an insight into the possibilities of our technological era. The Flâneur will inspire, surprise and delight, in equal measure.”
At heart, it’s complete and utter nonsense of course!. But to add some substance to this, I thought some of you might want the sounds themselves to use in your own productions and sample them, and make something with them. If you were curious as to how these sounds were made they were entirely created with my mouth. Simple as that. The Fláneur is really only the sound of me making funny noises with my mouth.
Free Flâneur Électronique Sounds
Navigate to this FLÂNEUR link and you can download all the files for you to keep and be creative with. Copyright free. You can hear the original mouth samples and the processing which I used on them with IRCAM’s GRM Tools. And if you do happen to sample these in a production I’ve love to hear the results please!
So, for the moment, please take care more than ever. For many people today, this situation is one of the toughest situations they’ve had to live through but we can all find a positive way forward through it. Perhaps even the way we know life as it is will change in ways we never anticipated, but I remain an optimist and believe in ultimate good. And certainly for the moment, DON’T be a flâneur and aimlessly wander the streets but stay safely at home!