Only a day after we lost Robert Moog, another major wheel-inventor in the scheme of electronic music has passed. Paris-born composer Luc Ferrari has earned himself the title of true pioneer in music concrete, found sound usage and avant-garde music in general. He founded the Group de Musique Concrete in 1958, and along with the likes of Pierre Schaeffer advanced the possibilities of recorded sound by huge leaps and bounds, continuing to discover new and unexplored terrain even up to today. He died Monday in Arezzo, Italy. I've asked musician David Grubbs, who has been much under the influence of Ferrari throughout his own career (and has released recent Ferrari discs on his own Blue Chopsticks label), to express some of his memories here, and he kindly obliged:
Luc Ferrari possessed a sparkling sense of humor and quality of focus or presentness that, for anyone lucky enough to have enjoyed his company, will be impossible to forget. In this lifetime, you might meet a handful of individuals whose work really speaks to you. Really sparks you . . .(Right now I¹m thinking about periods spent listening to "Presque Rien No.1"and "Tautologos 3" and "Unheimlich Schön" over and over again.) But when you meet one of those people, how often do you find that person¹s company an equally profound pleasure?
When I think of Luc, I think of his laugh and the musicality with which that laugh punctuated his storytelling. I think of his profound irreverence, his constitutional opposition to any kind of pomposity or pretentiousness and irreverence and an opposition that, as far as I could tell, were part of the fiber of his person. I think of the directness and concision with which he talked about music. I think of him as setting the terms by which his work succeeds or fails, and of him as being almost comically (hilariously, excellently, inspiringly) impervious to competing ideologies in contemporary music. I think of how he enjoyed traveling, I think of how he enjoyed meeting and working with much younger musicians (so long as they were secure in what they did, having one foot in music and the other in the business of sociality and knowing how to enjoy themselves), and I think of what a force of nature he and his wife Brunhild together constituted. I think of his pleasure in finding a decent bottle of wine behind bullet-proof glass at a liquor store in Brooklyn so that we could make the most of lunch at a diner. He didn¹t criticize the grilled cheese. I loved the way he dressed. If I get started, I¹m not going to want to stop. His music meant so much to me, and then I came to enjoy his company every bit as much and ultimately even more.
"Impossible to forget" is a tall order, hope against hope . . . but it¹s a way of saying that I want to be able to continue to savor the lovely, resolutely one-of-a-kind person that Luc Ferrari was. An utter original. Damn if I¹m not hearing that laugh this very instant . . .
An interview with Ferrari by Dan Warburton here (with lots of links on the bottom to other articles).