Herve Perez feat. Alex Hegyesi
Garden of Secrets
Discus 97CD
Available formats: CD/DL


“Garden of Secrets is a very successful and varied disc with electronic-folk-jazz-progressive soundscapes, and thus another remarkable album from the Discus, which is highly recommended for friends of electronic sound journeys around the world.” – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN

An electroacoustic work by Hervé Perez taking the form of a suite of compositions which combine Hervé’s software based sounds with a host of beautiful and unusual sounds from a wide range of instruments played by Hervé and collaborator Alex Hegyesi. The finished work is a great example of Hervé’s precision attention to structure and sonic detail. In Hervé’s words:

For the second collaboration with Alex, I decided to change the way I approached composing and arranging the work. The recordings I received were more varied, more instruments were featured. I also asked Alex to record specific things, in a given key or tempo, etc. as well as longer improvisations. I had a lot more material to play with and wanted to create music that was still following in the electroacoustic tradition but also paid respect to other genres we were both interested in: jazz, improv, prog, folk, electronic and noise…

I wanted to create the feel and sound of a live band, but of course, all done in the studio, in computer, through scalpel cutting and minute arrangements, sound design and processing etc. I also had many more tools at hand and used many more instruments. So this work turned into a large scale project of composing some kind of orchestral folk ritual.

The result is a series of pieces or instrumental songs that explore spirituality from different angles and moods. I hope I managed to create a contrast with ‘Winds of Change’, the first collaboration we did, made of longer abstract tracks.

Much attention has gone into the mixing, sound design and mastering of this complex, layered music, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.

Recorded, mixed and mastered at nexTTime studios 2012
©Hervé Perez 2020

Hervé Perez – soprano saxophone, shakuhachi, Nepalese flute, caval, bodhrán, Tibetan bells and meditation bowls, field recordings, electronics and programming, sound design + arrangements, composition, mix and master

Alexandru Hegyesi – bowed & plucked dulcimer, gusla, Bavarian zither, prepared chord-harp, psaltery, prepared cymbalum, wind bamboo chimes, shaman drum, rosewood claves, kokiriko


Electronics, field recordings and all sorts of subtle sounds, wafting and waves form the basis of the music in which the diverse products of the other acoustic instruments offered by the protagonists are embedded. The same are often time-honoured plucked, painted or blown sound generators and various percussions (including rocking drums), which usually give the music a distinct folk or world music atmosphere. Other features are brisk jazz rock (like the introductory “abandoning of sorrows”), freer sound crafting, airy electronics and sometimes a pinch of prog. The sonic result is a colourful suite of rather short pieces, into which, however, various longer elaborations are scattered. The music in which Perez says ‘Jazz, Improv, Prog, Folk, Electronic and Noise’ is quite independent. Sometimes this sounds like Canterbury-related jazz prog, sometimes free tone painting, sometimes electronic improvisations, sometimes cosmic sound spaces (especially in the long title track) and sometimes after Arabic, Eastern European or Far Eastern colourful ethnic quantities. The music never gets too oblique or even desolate (even if it speaks a bit more freely occasionally), which is why there is hardly any ‘noise’ to be found here. The sounds glide elegantly, mysteriously and delicately. The label then calls it ‘orchestral folk ritual’. I agree. “Garden of Secrets” is a very successful and varied disc with electronic-folk-jazz-progressive soundscapes, and thus another remarkable album from the Discus, which is highly recommended for friends of electronic sound journeys around the world. – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN

If there is a fundamental observation that can be made about any Discus release, it’s that every one is difficult if not impossible to pigeonhole, and that is why the label remains one of the most important of its kind today. Reeds player, sound designer, and multi-instrumentalist Hervé Perez, along with label-head Martin Archer, enjoys the same eclectic, uncategorizable standing within the label’s remit, a player adept at reapplying ‘jazz’-inflected stylings within broader contexts of laptop and electronic sound design. Perez is paired on this consistently fascinating and always surprising recording alongside the acutely simpatico Alex Hegyesi, a skilled strings player and percussionist armed with a virtual arsenal of such objects (including dulcimer, gulsa, bavarian zither, harp, and psaltery, plus chimes, shaman drum, rosewood claves and the like) which the duo deflect off one another in ways you would least expect. The meeting of cultures that abounds throughout is unplaceable, to say the least; Perez and Hegyesi essentially ignite a hybridization courting “world” and “jazz” musics without fully engaging the stark definitions of either genre, simultaneously nursing an experimentalist touch that renders the entire affair slightly askew. All sixteen tracks are remarkable in their brevity, the duo exhibiting a well-honed sense of editorial skill that renders each piece’s ideas abundant with flair and imagination. “Like Milk and Water” is one of the few tracks (along with the opening “Abandoning of Sorrow”) that features fairly energetic percussion; it’s a two-plus minute workout of Persian dervish, contemporary British saxophone endeavor, and trippy forward thrust, underpinned by Perez’s subtle though effective electronic reverberations. Surely one of the highlights is the over nine-minute ceremonial discourse that is “Shaman’s Dream”, a cornucopia of percussive delights populated by objects flecked, tickled, vibrated, and massaged, suggesting multi-colored worlds at once recognizable and alien, charming and sinister, beckoning and forbidding. All these rich mindstates vividly demonstrate that Garden of Secrets ticks all the right boxes; experimental and accessible, beautifully tasteful to the ear, and eminently listenable. – Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery (downtownmusicgallery.com)

Steeped in jazz, prog and South East Asian music, Garden Of Secrets is an electro-acoustic suite built around the saxophone and shakuhachi of Hervé Perez, and the strings of Alexandru Hegyesi. “like milk and water” has Perez’s overdubbed soprano saxophones moving in counterpoint around the stereo field, set against the snap of programmed drums. Shorter tracks like like “skandhas” introduce a combination of instruments – shakuhachi and dulcimer in this case – which are expanded on in subsequent pieces. On “lizard dance”, Hegyesi scratches out a rhythm on palm muted strings, over which Perez’s saxophone glides. The lengthy title track explores the overtones of flutes and bowed cymbals, subtly enhanced by electronic treatments. A stately riff emerges, allowing Perez to develop a beautiful saxophone melody. – Stewart Smith, WIRE

It is impressive what Hervé Perez has managed to accomplish on this latest album. With great assistance from Alex Hegyesi, they play an astonishing number of instruments, some of which (psaltery, kokiroko, caval) I have no idea what they are. What they have managed though is to totally encapsulate the idea of a Garden Of Secrets by producing a series of themes that are accessible yet mysterious, and lead the listener through various different phases until we are lost with only the sounds to guide us. It never loses us in a worrying way; there may be curious noises just out of our range, but it is never threatening. The opening piece has some surprisingly forceful drumming, over which saxophone and what could be flute perform a dazzling duet, one all calm and thoughtful while the other is the essence of excitement, flitting and scooting in dizzying circles. It sets off in a direction which is completely undone by the next piece, which is all drones and strings and tibetan bells. This is the peaceful side of the garden, its Eastern intonation lending an air of relaxation with a crackle of a campfire reflecting a light falling of snow. The movement from this kind of tranquillity to the air of expectation in the near silence of “Slow March Of The Pilgrims” is like a step further into the unknown. A dulcimer gives sparse notes with the merest hint of other sounds in the background; the scrape of strings, a floating flute, the sense of enchantment as we head deeper. At points on Garden Of Secrets, there are reprises of some of what has gone before, reawakening our memories of those moments, and there are lovely little interludes between the larger pieces; the buzz of insects with flute, the sound of a shore at dusk , all little palette-cleansers preparing us for further immersion. The wide variety of instruments used means we have no idea what is coming next and how they will interact; the flute and zither make a really tranquil combination on “Skandhas”, while the rhythmic sax on “Lizard Dance” is accompanied by another dreamier instrument and they entwine gently in the smoke of a distant fire. Things turn stranger on “Shaman’s Dream”, a real smorgasbord of sounds, submerging and intoning among a busy scrabble of textures, like a group communicating without speaking. This is where the secrets really start; and then the drums are reintroduced, working on their own beat, lost in a world of texture and thought, a meeting of wills or a dervish dance as the instruments egg one another on. Towards the end, the pieces become longer, expanding in idea and execution, spectral notes dominating the title track, diffuse and liminal, passing like gossamer, obscuring the way. The sax is lazy here but beckons still, drifting in and out of our sphere, appearing at times like the sun shining through rain clouds, that bright burst of pure illumination which moves into the sparser, bittier rumble of the final piece. The sax is splenetic on “All Is Change” as all else totters and tumbles around as it sounds like a cast of thousands are all thrashing away to make the finale an unforgettable moment. It drags elements of all that has gone before into a swirl of motion and emotion until the secrets are lost to the wind. This is a huge and expansive work of exquisite drama. Once again, Discus have found something that is unlike anything else on the scene. I don’t think the secrets are really meant for us, but there is only one way to find out. – Mr Olivetti. FREQ http://freq.org.uk/reviews/herve-perez-garden-of-secrets/

This ambient electroacoustic session, in which multi-instrumentalist Perez mixes up trippy folk and indo-jazz with occasional contemporary beat sensibilities, steers clear of crossover genre-style mix n match. – Selwyn Harris, JAZZWISE

Deux musiciens qui se sont trouvés : Alexandru HEGYESI (joue un tas d’instruments, dont le dulcimer) et Hervé PEREZ (sax soprano et autres curiosités). Leurs instruments viennent d’un peu partout : flute népalaise, bodhrán, cloches tibétaines, cithare bavaroise, tambour de shaman, etc. … auxquels s’ajoutent des enregistrements réalisés sur le terrain, un peu d’électronique et d’informatique, des paysages sonores, du mixage. Et voilà le travail : « Garden of secrets », album qui porte à la méditation et nous propose 16 morceaux -certains courts, d’autres longs (0’25 – 15’53)- comme autant de porte d’entrée dans ce jardin musical. – Guy Stuckens, Radio Air Libre

The “Garden of Secrets”… Such an album title, nowadays, may seem generic or boast some “new age” sounding product. Being a Discus Music production there is obviously eel under the rock, as the English label is renowned for its stubbornness and its determination to offer only experimental, free, improvised, avant-garde music, or even sounds. defying categorization. And with Garden of Secrets, that’s what it’s all about: this almost 77-minute creation gives you to listen to sound spaces that are more electroacoustic and “sound art” although we can detect it. elements of jazz and improvised music, but propelled into an “ambient” dimension with timbres little used in the sphere of western cutting-edge music. Its author, Hervé PEREZ, is admittedly as much an improviser as a sound “designer”, and draws on free music as well as contemporary and experimental music, which allows him to get involved in different projects. (He had already produced an album for Discus in 2006, The Inclusion Principle, with Martin ARCHER, or “Monsieur Discus” in person.) His collaboration with the Romanian Alexandru HEGYESU – alias SHANYIO – is not new either, since the two artists had already produced in 2010 for the netlabel Electronic Musik the album Winds of Change, a creation combining wind and string instruments, electronic treatments and field recordings. Ten years later, Garden of Secrets is a natural extension of their approach, this time with more extensive and unusual instrumentation. Thus, in addition to the soprano saxophone, Hervé PEREZ also blows in a shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), in a Nepalese flute, and in a caval (Romanian straight flute), and also tinkles Tibetan bells and resonates meditation bowls. Alex HEGYESI, for his part, has several central European string instruments at his disposal, which he plucks or plays with a bow (dulcimer, gusla, Bavarian zither, cymbalum, psaltery, autoharp) on which he improvises as well as various percussions ( shamanic drum, bamboo chime, wooden claves, Japanese kokiriko) which allows him to vary the tempi and rhythmic phrasing. From this wide instrumental palette, Hervé PEREZ proceeded to several electronic treatments, programming, arrangements and sound textures (adding more field recordings and sound effects) to conceive compositions which appear very free, abstract, but in reality edited with a keen sense of precision and detail so as to immerse the listener in a sound dimension as orchestral as ceremonial and imprinted with a spiritual vibration which, by the origin of certain instruments used, evokes the Extreme -East. Some electro-acoustic pieces previously produced by PEREZ (available for download on the bandcamp page of his label, nexTTime) already bore titles quite inspired by Buddhist cosmology. The titles of the compositions in this Garden of Secrets are also imbued with Buddhist (OM, Skandhas, Shaman’s Dream, Abandoning of Sorrow, The Path, All is Change …), even animist (Bee’s Dance, Lizard Dance) and naturalist (Great Light of the Snowflakes, Pebbles). Likewise, the samples of sound effects and field recordings scattered here and there reinforce this link with Buddhist philosophy (we even hear in Shaman’s Dream a French Buddhist priest talking about “bodhicitta”…). Hervé PEREZ did not seek to “copy” ritual music from the other side of the world, nor to conform to it, but rather sought to approach this spiritual dimension through different angles and atmospheres. The sheer variety of the compositions makes it impossible to categorize this Garden of Secrets too hastily as a “new age” production. If some short pieces act as interludes (OM, Pebbles, Golden Bridge) and if others, of medium duration (Great Light of the Snowflakes, Slow March of the Pilgrims, The Path), take on a resolutely ambient nature while keeping a “live” aspect, spontaneous and organic, other pieces still, based on a saxophone / percussion interaction, with just a few string sounds playing on the drone (Abandoning of Sorrow, Like Milk and Water, The Well), s ‘are rhythmically more raised and come from a more jazz and free sounding approach. Finally, the longest pieces (Shaman’s Dream, Garden of Secrets, All is Change) combine all these elements of ambient, jazz, ethnic, improv and electro within structures reminiscent of “progressive” suites while keeping a “suspended” atmosphere. ”. The whole forms a fresco made up of sixteen pieces, most of which are readily linked. This garden is therefore deeper and busier than you might think. It quivers, it rustles, it drips, it scrapes, it tinkles, it flows, it sizzles, it cracks and it sells, to the point that we rather have the impression of hiking in a forest with uncertain markings, or on a plateau bumpy volcanic. But whatever the setting, we stop there to reconcile with the natural elements and meditate on the impermanence of things …  – Stephane Fougere https://www.rythmes-croises.org/herve-perez-alex-hegyesi-garden-of-secrets/

Hervé Perez has joined up with Alexandru Hegvesi to produce Garden Of Secrets (DISCUS MUSIC DISCUS 97CD), a new release on Discus Music. Hervé Perez has often played with Martin Archer (label boss of Discus), starting out in 2006 with an album called The Inclusion Principle, a name which they later gave to their duets where they improvised freely, blending digital effects and computer manipulation with woodwinds, with results that I dare say were accessible to lovers of many genres – electronics, jazz, improvisation. Perez also does a fair bit of solo work and recently started his own Nexttime Studios label to showcase his work; effectively it’s a sub label of Discus Music. He first worked with Romanian player Hegvesi in 2010 on the Winds Of Change album. Today’s offering Garden Of Secrets downplays the computers and digital processing in favour of real instruments – Perez plays the soprano sax, but also spends a lot of time with his favoured shakuhachi flute, a move which might endear him to David Toop. Other ethnic instruments, such as the Tibetan bells, the Nepalese flute and the bodhran, also pass under his hands. Hegvesi appears to be more of a string player and is credited with the dulcimer, the gusla, the zither, the psaltery, and the prepared cymbalum; he’s not afraid to apply plucking and bowing actions to these instruments where needed. Also a percussionist, he plays the bamboo chimes and something intriguingly called the “shaman drum”. Perez wishes to stress, as he does in the press notes, that Garden Of Secrets is a very composed album, and the key words are “sound design” and “composition”, and there’s much evidence that he has spent time listening to the improvisations and doing a lot of arranging and editing (“scalpel cutting”, as he calls it, indicating the precision behind these aural mosaics) in the studio. It’s as much a canvas of electro-acoustic composition as it is a document of improvised music; and field recordings are also involved in the grand design. Although there are a couple of lively tunes which could pass master at an open-minded jazz festival, ‘Abandoning Of Sorrow’ being one of them, the album is mostly a suite of very calming mood music, creating a serene bliss and meditative framework for the listener. Indeed the word “meditative” may not be wildly inappropriate for an album which contains hints of non-Western spirituality and religion, a theme which is further echoed in the specific use of instrumentation, and certain track titles which allude to devotional tasks and ecstatic states – e.g. ‘Slow March of the Pilgrims’ and ‘Shaman’s Dream’. The intention of Perez is to remain non-specific and explore these areas “from different angles and moods”, and the work has grown into “some kind of orchestral folk ritual”. – Ed Pinsent, SOUND PROJECTOR

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