Michel Lambert’s Ars Transmutatoria in action

Ars Transmutatoria Rouge, the first in a series of albums of music created with Michel’s visual scores, was released October 2, 2020, and is followed by Ars Transmutatoria Bleu. You can find both at Bandcamp. More recordings will be added to the collection later this year.

Do we all travel to the same place when we improvise, dream or imagine? Can a visual score allow us to travel to the same imaginal space together? These are the questions that pop into my thoughts as I consider my husband Michel Lambert’s epic Ars Transmutatoria project. In these days when it is difficult to travel in daily life, it is still possible to travel through music and imagination.

limited edition compact discs include a small hand-cut booklet of reproductions of the scores

As we travelled the world together, or as we did pre-pandemic, Michel would always stop to observe nature around him closely and collected small details that caught his eye. In the same way I collect the energies of the spirits of place through song, he captures it in his visual scores, a multi-media multi-year project of art and music making. It is a logical progression of his Journal des Episodes that began back in the 1980s when he kept a daily diary of symphonic scores with a drawing each day. You can find those here.

So how can we bring all this magical energy he has collected to life? His first step has been to bring the scores to musicians who respond to the challenge in a series of evocative environments.

Here are some examples of the music created with this intuitive method. For this video, Ars Transmutatoria: Os, there are many layers at play. The score was created while we were in Paris, staying in a building once occupied by Victor Hugo. During our stay I enlisted my psychic dreaming friends in an experiment in remote viewing as Michel and I visited an exhibition of Basquiat. Needless to say they were uncanny as usual but I’ll save that story for another day. He brought this score as well as over forty more to the world renowned Studio la Buissonne in France where we met up with our creative musical friends from Barre Phillips’ EMIR group.

Here is the video with the music, instantly composed, and the score blown up for full effect.

Performed by Michel Lambert, drums; Jeannette Lambert, voice; Laurent Charles, sax; Davide Barbarino, sax; Lionel Garcin sax; and Emmanuel Cremer, cello. Recorded at Studio la Buissonne, Pernes les fontaines, France by Gérard de Haro, December 6, 2019. Mixing and film by myself.

Last summer in Kyoto during the Gion Matsuri or Festival, Michel composed this visual score from fragments gathered at the Artspace Yosuga residency. In December he brought the score to this immensely talented ensemble of free players in the only remaining Elizabethan Church in London.

Michel Lambert, drums; Caroline Kraabel, saxophone; Adrian Northover, saxophone; Susanna Ferrar, violin; Hyelim Kim, taegum; Jeannette Lambert, voice; Phil Minton, voice and trumpet; Trevor Taylor, vibes; Steve Beresford, piano; Veryan Weston, organ; Steve Noble, drums; John Edwards, acoustic bass. Recorded by Ali Ward. Recorded at the Old Church in Stoke Newington, London England on December 12 2019. Mix, master and film by myself.

Below are a few videos of other recording sessions from the last year and these are also in production and created around the evocative scores. To be continued!