Barrière – first album

Par temps calme et ensoleille for piano and tapeAt first hearing, this CD may seem stylistically all over the place. The first two pieces, the four movement Par temps calme et ensoleille for piano and tape and the one movement Par temps calme et ensoleille for cello and tape seem hardly to warrant the same name, and neither are anything like Musique pour le temps noël or Ajourd’hui, which are sort of like each other. But a few listens will soon dispel that early impression. Without taking anything away from the unique nature of each piece, these four are clearly by the same person.

So many pieces for instrument + tape feature the instrument playing neo-Schoenbergian riffs interrupted by electronic blips and bloops. There’s really not any of that in Barrière’s Par temps calme et ensoleille. And the opening microtonal sounds of the piano should suffice for anyone apprehensive, as I am, about this subgenre. These are not your business as usual tape+ pieces.

Clip from movement three of Par temps calme et ensoleille for piano and tape:


Clip from Par temps calme et ensoleille for cello and tape:


Aujourd’hui moves in and out of crowd sounds, with one recurring “oof” that is just barely recognizable as a communal shout and that becomes less recognizably so as the piece goes on, until one memorable place after some colloquy between two men, where the crowd goes wild, as crowds do, whether at sporting events or political rallies. (I’m not sure there’s a significant difference, but the shouts of “solidarité” that come near the end of the piece are probably not from a football game.) Then, so fleeting that you might half miss the first lick, a quote from some spy movie or thriller or other.

A very entertaining piece, but not as entertaining as Musique pour le temps noël, which was always almost the only “Christmas music” ever played in our household. (And more fortunate members of the public may have caught my sons and me “singing” the hallelujah section from this piece in various parking lots of Southern California.) Musique pour le temps noël will probably remind no one of Christmas time—probably why that’s why we favored it—though it does have many sounds of family gatherings, and there is some holiday singing. And of course, there’s that hallelujah that a child whispers with various emphases and various distortions of same, including multilayering for that choral effect. This is a real treat and worth the cost of the CD all on its own.

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