[In Situ, 6 rue de la Justice, 75020 Paris, France]

Some CDs can't be enjoyed in certain environments. Take 'Rip-Stop' for instance. This is piano-guitar music that is simply too damn quiet, too serene and ultimately too detail oriented to be enjoyed anywhere, except for a sound-proof room. To be fair, the CD can actually be listened to in other locations, as long as these locations are not prone to foreign sound sources from the outside world. The piano-guitar duo has been done time and again, so why is it that this one deserves our attention? For one, Sophie Agnel's piano work is stunning in its precision, as much as its subtlety. Fact is, she spends the majority of the hour long CD strumming the inside of her instrument. Her caresses are like a lover's tongue ' they tease your ear ever so gently. She applies gentle pressure when needed and then holds back until you're simply screaming and begging for more. Oliver Benoit takes a similar approach to his electric guitar. He strums the strings gently. So light is his touch that for the most part you won't even recognize the instrument as such. Enough modification was done to ensure the listener is taken aback with the new and different sounds that can emanate from the guitar. Coming back to importance of hearing this music with no outside interference, the first two tracks are so hushed that you'll ultimately end up turning up the volume knob so far to the right searching for the music that is all too subtle. It's so understated in fact, you'll wonder if there's any music there. That's not to say that the duo is not capable of kicking out the jams. In fact, when the need arises [as it does at the tail end of 'rs-4'], Sophie and Olivier create a high-pitched sound feast for the senses, complete with copious amounts of feedback and powerful strokes on the keys. Call this electroacoustic music at its best. Call this a display of sparseness. 'Rip-Stop' is nothing short of an addictive feast for the ears.

Tom Sekowski

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