…et autre utopies

The album …et autres utopies, which was released for Dhomont’s 80th birthday, contains all recent work—either new pieces or older ones reworked. Four of the five pieces on this disc—all but Voyage-miroir—were performed at the Akousma(3) festival on the day itself, 2 November 2006.

Here and There, which opened the concert, also opens this disc. “Here and There” is one of those laconically descriptive titles that manages to be accurate and uninformative at one and the same time. The music does explore how music exists in both space and time. And the materials are from here and there as well—watery sounds (modified to be hard-edged), a girl’s voice, footsteps, and so forth. But none of that really captures the restless and mercurial qualities of this fascinating piece. I guess only listening to it will do. [Jean-François Denis requested that we link to the electrocd site for their clips.]

Je te salue, vieil océan opens with a flourish of mechanized sounds, a factory perhaps or a train. This quickly resolves into voices, many voices richly layered, while the electronic noises swirl around them. The voices fade away, then return extremely distorted, and some watery, splashing in the sink kind of sounds enter, along with some clattery, bamboo windchime-like noises, which, as their phrasing is the same shape as the splashy sounds, make us quickly think that they’re the same watery sounds, just more distorted.

No one will think, by the way, that they’re listening to factory sounds in this piece. It’s not like Déserts, for instance, or Post. It is just that something of the quality, the energy, the inexorability of loud machinery clanging in an echoey building are in this music as well.

Chroniques de la lumière has three movements, Miroitements, Artifices, and Météores. I say movements because this is a tightly integrated piece, not three pieces loosely connected under one title. Each piece uses the same materials: the same sounds, the same motifs. In Miroitements, all the main themes are presented in a stately and majestic adagio. In Artifices, along with some new material, the themes occur in a lively and active context of great rapidity. In Météores, the materials are louder, harsher, and more separated by silence (in between and underneath, if that makes sense)—isolated events with no layering, no pedal.

Chroniques de la lumière is not as traditional as the above description may suggest. It was just interesting to me how tightly integrated these three sections were. It is quite a tour de force and a vastly entertaining and rewarding piece of music.

Voyage-miroir starts out slowly, with lovely, soft sounds. Adds some thundery bits, one at least that started out as actual thunder. It gets louder until a little over halfway in and then softens right down again and stays that way, pretty much, until the end. It’s a difficult piece to describe; an easy piece to love.

Corps et âme opens with the sonic equivalent of a bolt of lightning, followed a cheering crowd. For the most part, that’s the piece: various permutations of that sonic bolt, various answers, as it were, from the crowd (which appears sometimes—vaguely—as babbling brook, sometimes as choral group, and once, briefly, right before the end, as the cheering crowd again). It’s a most ingenious piece, a very short but very cheer-worthy piece.

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