The delicate music of the night.
Interestingly enough, from 1985 to 1988, Lightwave was mainly involved in
concert performances and live studio sessions playing together, learning
to build up a coherent electro-acoustic space into which each instrumentist
would bring his own contribution, going deeper and deeper into the secrets
of analog synthesis and defining rules and methods for improvising while
playing. Lightwave used the studio as a training tool for the stage, and
playing in concert simply meant moving all the studio set up on stage in
order to play in a familiar surrounding.
There was a permanent emulation between Christoph, Serge and Christian,
and they tried to astonish themselves with new sounds, new effects, and
unexpected developments during the live sessions. The music was so organic
and cohesive that at times one of the musicians would ask: "This sound is
really great, who is playing it?" And the two other guys answered: "It's
you!" Serge usually created some guidelines with sequences. During live
concerts, Lightwave developed a collaboration with the street-dance company
Popdreams, who created a great technique of slow motion dance and mime.
Lightwave also worked with special visual artists to create the right visual
atmosphere of the concerts.
From the various materials recorded live or during studio sessions,
Lightwave compiled several auto-produced cassettes that had a wide
circulation in European underground networks. The first one, "Modular
Experiment" , was a sort of programmatic statement about the band's
artistic choices, between structure and deconstruction.
In 1988, Serge left Lightwave, but remained good friends with Christian
and Christoph. It was a difficult step for the band, and a time for
questions, doubts and decisions. Despite his heavy involvement in
scientific research and academic life, Christian shared Christoph's will to
give Lightwave a new chance, and a new orientation. Losing Serge's creative
input meant redefining the band's aesthetics as well as its goals.
"Cités Analogues" reflects the work of Lightwave as a duo. It was a
concept cassette-album, with a music written and composed and rehearsed for
several weeks. All its parts were recorded live on a Revox tape machine.
There exist several versions of the pieces, and Lightwave chose the best
ones for the release. On a very sequenced track, however, Christian who
was playing a soloist line above Christoph's rythmics and polyphony made
a keyboard mistake. The RSF Modular solo line was great except for a few
seconds. So during the final editing session, Lightwave decided to add the
noise of a train crossing the stereo space. The train just masked the wrong
notes! For the first time, Lightwave built up a whole conceptual project,
and worked on the global artistic coherence of an album-length composition.
The function and complementarity of the two musicians were firmly defined
too, and "Cités Analogues" was a first step toward professional productions.
Some more time was needed, however, before Lightwave got a first deal with
a record company.
For a few months, a new musician named Bruno Heuzé joined Lightwave.
We met him at the "Ici & Maintenant" radio, where we played very
special live performances in 1986 and 1988. Bruno was and
is still one of the French experts in the field of new musics. He knew
everything from radical free jazz to New York avant-garde. For several
months, Christian was a guest programmer in Bruno's radio show, and
Californian electronic music (such as Steve Roach and Michael Stearns) or
European electro-acoustic music got an extensive airplay in the Paris area.
Bruno joined Lightwave at a crucial time. Technology was changing: MIDI,
sampling, FM synthesis opened new directions. Computers allowed new ways of
composing music. Concerts and studio sessions during this period kept a
record of various experimentations with sampling and computer sequencing.
Lightwave was always between structure and chaos, between geometry and
freedom. The old analog synthesizers, however, preserved the sonic identity
of the band.
A trained musician, Bruno was more interested in written composition and
in fusion music. And when he left Lightwave, he recorded a great solo
record displaying all his skill. Meanwhile, Lightwave recorded
"Nachtmusik" really by mere chance and accident. Lightwave had been
conducting weekly rehearsals at Christoph's place near Paris. And during a
weekend in 1989, Bruno was unable to participate. What happened exactly, we
don't know. We probably waited for Bruno for a while, and then we plugged
in all the equipment and had a soundcheck. By the late evening nothing had
really happened yet, so we took a break and had several drinks. During the
night we entered the studio again, and pushed the "Record" button of the
Revox tape machine. There was a blue light in the studio. Without a single
word, we started playing. We had no plans. All the machines were pluged to
the mixing desk and we were moving freely from one to another. We recorded
"Nachmusik" live, without any break or overdub. It was a total
improvisation, but at the same time a structured composition, with an
opening movement, a central and a final part. We still played a good part
of the night until we felt asleep.
We knew that this recording was something special. And we were aware that
it had to be released as a CD-project because it was one of the best things
we had ever recorded. The second track "Just Another Dream" was a "montage"
from different studio sessions. Important parts of it were recorded during
that magic night...
Signing with German record company Erdenklang for the release of
"Nachtmusik" was a great opportunity. Erdenklang was then one of the
leading European record companies in the field of electronic music, and we
were happy to join artists such as Hubert Bognermayr, Harald Zuschrader,
Matthias Thurow and Johannes Schmoelling. Serge Leroy helped a lot, and we
went together to Germany. We spent a few days in Berlin, meeting artists
such as Manuel Göttsching, Alphaville, Chris Franke in his studio,
Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Propeller Island and Conrad Schnizler. From
Berlin, we went to Hamburg, to meet with Ulrich Rützel. We had a dinner
together and, the day after, a long discussion. At the end of the morning,
we got the deal.
Ulrich Rützel, Erdenklang's manager, gave Lightwave a chance, and we are
still very grateful to him. "Nachtmusik" is still available and distributed
on his catalogue, and sales never stopped.
The mixing and mastering sessions of the album were done in Paris.
For the "Nachtmusik" piece, the only possible edits were treatments and
equalization. A first version was done by french producer Jean-Michel
Reusser, with heavy use of electronic treatments and effects. The piece
sounded as a total aquatic chill-out delirium. The final version, however,
was achieved by Michel Geiss, a leading French sound-engineer and musician
who was a long-time collaborator of Jean-Michel Jarre. We went to a
professional studio in Paris, and the mixing and treatments were done
through a SSL mixing desk. Michel enhanced the sound, corrected some
frequences, but did not change the mood and the spirit of our live studio
performances as they were: the most important ingredient was the magic,
and it had to be preserved. Michel's artistic and technical choice was the