The music produced by the group is the result of a series of "sound manipulation" projects. In the beginning there was the question of animating a town in southern France (Menton) during summer 1973 on the occasion of a festival of classical music. Gilbert Artman had provided four sound generators to produce "pure frequencies" through a number of loudspeakers distributed in a line along a road and encircling a square in the old downtown.
There, in the centre, was a podium, where eight saxophone-players should have completed what could have been the first attempt to produce an urban "Sound Cloud". Due to financial reasons, however, this project was never realized. But this - at least surprising-start-may very well partially explain the "Single Sound Strategy" employed by URBAN SAX: it is the grand-granddaughter of the sequences of frequencies that should have been emined by those loudspeakers.
Somewhen about September 1976, three years later, Gilbert Artman finds himself in contact with some saxophonists - and again exposes his idea: For the first time he meets enthusiasm! The experience seems attractive, and soon a dozen of players has found together. Rapidly the general conviction is: sixteen musicians are the optimum, considering the motives superposed. But the escalation does not come to halt there: twenty, then twenty-four, and finally more than thirty saxophone players start working out with precision musical bows upon each other, continuous sounds, endless spirals and other surprising sound effects.
In fact the number of members of URBAN SAX is always larger than those people you see on stage playing in order to be sure to assemble the number necessary for each single event.
In 1978 the music is enriched by human voices: some ten chorus-singers appear after their participation in the production of the second record. Even here, the point is not "singing" in the classical sense: Breathing sounds, percussion effects, simulated words mix themselves with the loops off the melody.
Urban Sax appear on stage either in white or in strange black costumes, wearing metallic reflexes on their skins, or else their faces are covered. Gilbert Artman togs the group out, and by an by, as the music is enriched, Urban Sax takes the habit of invading "different" places: the interventions develop, some groups of Urban Sax appear, disappear, pop up clouds of sound and smoke. So they overflow squares, buildings of underground galleries, make towns vibrate under their uncommon chant. (Those actions, based on the plan to make a town resound, naturally are designed individually and prepared with care according to the given local possibilities).
Since summer 1979, those interventions have taken a new dimension: individual and transportable equipments give to the voices the power of saxophones, and, as an extra feature, an optional electronical or synthetical characteristic. But above all, every musician is equipped with an FM-receiver. Thanks to a central transmitting unit ("art director"), the musicians can play with precision and mobility, in perfect exactness, without even hearing or seeing each other!
So their "taking possesion" of a place is much more complete: It is very surprising to meet members of Urban Sax, who seem to be autonomous, without leadership, although synchronized in music and gesture according to an exact scheme. Thus they can start from places distant a couple of hundreds of meters and never and nevertheless meet in play and counterplay, after perhaps having toured all the town in little electric vehicles or by the means of public transport!
Instrumentalists and singers are of different musical origin, generally - but not always - "non-classical". The particular use of saxophones and voices demanded by Gilbert Artman is based on their "non-tempered" particularities, on the fact, that they may "fluctuate" and move around a theoretical note. This cannot be achieved without shocking the more classical conceptions. The musicians have been chosen according to the relations they have with their instruments, and this again is not without a connection to the behaviour of the individual to be observed in its appearance.