The title Mouvances-Métaphores covers two discs of music: Cycle de l’errance and Les Dérives du signe, seven pieces from the eighties all related by ideas of movement and change. (The word Métaphores is as literal, and as metaphorical, in French as it is in English. And both meanings are important for these pieces.)

cycle de l’erranceThe first piece of Cycle de l’errance, Points de Fuite, is a curious and curiously teasing sort of piece. First of all, while its points may indeed be said to vanish, as is true for any piece of music, it also provides material for the next two pieces of the cycle, giving it a literal kind of permanence at odds with its title. Second, it is inside a larger piece, Cycle de l’errance, which is itself inside of Mouvance-Métaphores, titles which might seem to account for those three rather odd little interruptions in its twelve minute span, first a passing car, next a train whistle, and last a jet plane. Seem to, but not really.

And there’s the sound of a marble that rolls around inside Points de Fuite and inside the other pieces that make up Mouvance-Métaphores.

So much for trivial or at least literal suggestions of wandering and movement. To the listening ear, Points de Fuite seems largely an exploration of crescendi and decrescendi, of rising lines and falling. One can see this in the “listening score” made by Stéphan Roy that’s included in the booklet, and see too how complex are the workings out of these two simple notions.

In … mourir en peu we are perhaps in slightly more somber territory, although the titles of its nine sections (Marime, Cartographi liminaire, Un certain embarquement, Thème de la fuite, Transfert I, En abîme, Transfert II, Palimpseste, Il ritorno) might suggest that death is not so much an end as another kind of transformation. Even more to the point, these titles, along with that of the third piece of this cycle, Espace/Escape, indicate that Dhomont’s imagination is very much taken up with double meanings, with meanings within meanings, with meanings that may seem unrelated but turn out, as meanings in poetry often do, to go together quite well, and, of course, with meanings that change.

For listening, simply, it is the sheer loveliness and richness of the sounds that captivates me, from the high, pitchless, insect-like sounds to the reverberant clangs and clatters and the great, low, lovely thuds. That the rolling marble sound recurs in Transfert I is less important, to me, than is the sonic experience of the marble itself.

And speaking of recurrence, in Espace/Escape, many of the sounds and motifs from the earlier pieces return, but much altered, so the whole “sheer loveliness” business is much easier. Otherwise, the most striking moments in this piece are the very closely miked clatters and thuds, as if one were walking through a room knocking things over with a live microphone. However it was done, the result is dramatic and stunning.

Clips for Cycle de l’errance, as well as Roy’s listening score for Points de fuite, can be found here.

les derives du signeLes dérives du signe was the first Dhomont disc I ever heard. Shortly after listening to it, I was back in the store (at the time, a ninety minute drive), not only looking for more Dhomont but for more of the colorful emprientes DIGITALes discs, almost as easy to spot as the Ground Fault ones or the Metamkine Cinéma pour l’oreille. This was all before I’d ever heard of Francis Dhomont, and I took no more notice of the umbrella title—Mouvances-Métaphores, 2—except to make a note to keep an eye out for , 1. Since I listened to the four pieces on this disc many times before I found any more Dhomont and without reading any of the liner notes or even looking up the English meanings of any of the titles, and since I have since listened to a lot of Dhomont and a lot of the music of his students and colleagues, I am in a fairly secure position from which to claim that the 1991 liner notes by François Bayle, which I read only this past week, are spot on.

Particularly this: “We have with [Dhomont] the interesting double union of a composer whose work is constant with consistent quality, varied but with unity of style, colored but with great coherence.” That this applies to the four pieces on this disc you may hear for yourself.

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