Julien Ottavi and Dion Workman are two of the most extreme of the younger wave of sonic explorers, pushing the boundaries of sound and art. Ottavi hails from Nantes, France and Workman from New Zealand, but their overlapping concerns and aesthetics have drawn them together, and misenlian contains the results of their initial collaborations.
Julien Ottavi studied sound and photography at the art school of Nantes. He is a founding member of Formanex, an electroacoustic quartet performing graphic scores from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Cardew, Cage, Wolff, Feldman, Brown, and Ralf Wehowsky, as well as the founder of the Nantes-based experimental music organization Apo33 (responsible for running the label Fibrr among numerous other activities). His most notable previous release is the superb solo CD Nervure Magnétique (Sigma Editions, 2003).
Dion Workman began his career in the improvised rock trio Thela, along with Dean Roberts and Rosy Parlane. After Thela split up, Workman and Parlane founded Sigma Editions in 1998, beginning an exploration of electronic music that has continued to this day. Workman is a meticulous composer, with a Feldman-like sense of development in his pieces, best represented on disc by the perfectly sculpted Ching (Antiopic, 2003), a work which won him the 2003 Max Brand Prize from the Austrian Cultural Forum.
Workman was introduced to Ottavi's work in 2001 by Parlane, who suggested that Ottavi record for Sigma Editions after seeing him play in London. Later, Workman invited Ottavi to play a series of US shows, where they performed solo sets on the same bill and grew to be good friends. After being invited to record as a duo for Erstwhile, Ottavi came to the US for a month in 2003 and the two performed and recorded constantly. Based in Workman's Brooklyn apartment, the duo literally improvised for days at a time - when they slept, the computers continued to generate sound, with changes in the PureData patches triggered by microphones placed outside the apartment - and intermittently recorded the results. Ottavi and Workman directly followed up this intense recording period with several long-duration live performances, each set lasting between 3 and 6 1/2 hours. By the end of Ottavi's stay in the US, the duo had amassed approximately fifty hours of recorded material, which they later selected and shaped into misenlian.
misenlian unites Workman's glacial, continuous pacing with Ottavi's love for challenging the limits of dynamic range, resulting in a single remarkable piece as jarring and unsettling in its own way as the fluorescent colors of the CD packaging.