steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Max Bellancourt

"The Stone Tape" CDR

Dead Sea Liner

Genre: experimental, ambient


November 2009

Not much information to be found about this "elusive French experimentalist," either online or with The Stone Tape itself. Given that there are only sixty copies of this album in existence, it seems as if Bellancourt likes making himself somewhat scarce, endowing his quiet, understated music with a sense of mystery.

Hence, removed from description or context, The Stone Tape operates in its own little bubble, which is an interesting approach given that Bellancourt employs field recordings in his sound production strategy. The grainy, foreign sounds thus seem to come in from nowhere, although the track listing offers hints - after several of the compositions themselves, Bellancourt includes the source material with a short mention of where it was culled from - for example, the trickle of fountains in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic or the toasty aura of a coffee percolator in Arles, France. This 'confessional' approach shows the listener how comparatively basic sound samples can be built into greater works, as on the eerily alienating "Four Suns" or diverse epic "Monsters in Rock," which builds its climax around the sounds of a rainstorm.

Abstract and often sparse, The Stone Tape is difficult to penetrate, but rewarding when explored. If, like me, you're the type who listens attentively to your surroundings for the sheer joy of exploring and examining sound, then The Stone Tape will be right up your alley.

Michael Tau

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2009]