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Wednesday, March 20, 2019 In concert

Review

Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News, February 28, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019 Press

For Musique d’art, a five-movement, hour-long work for string quintet by Martin (b. 1981), the quartet — which in addition to the Bozzini sisters includes violinists Alissa Cheung and Clemens Merkel — is joined by double bassist Pierre-Alexandre Maranda. Like Niblock’s two pieces, Musique d’art is centered on the development elongated chords, but with more variability of density, dynamics and rates of harmonic change. Pitches drop out and fade in; discordant tones come and go as the intervals between notes widen and narrow; bow articulations shift to introduce changes to timbre and to add complexity to the stacked overtones. Not all of this is about pitch relationships: while at times the quintet sounds like a robust, tuned and detuned tamboura, at other times their collective sound dissolves into harsh, grey noise and rough, unpitched textures. Martin set out to create a fecund dialectic of sound and music with the piece, and in that he has succeeded.

Founded by the Bozzini sisters, cellist Isabelle and violinist Stéphanie, the eponymous Montréal-based string quartet has been a significant presence in Canadian new music since the early 2000s. The Bozzini’s two CDs, one each of works by US composer Phill Niblock and Québec’s Simon Martin, are the latest additions to a substantial catalogue of recordings of sound — and concept-based contemporary music.

Baobab presents two large-scale works by Niblock (b. 1933). Both pieces — Baobab, originally composed in 2011, and Disseminate, composed in 1998 — were first written for orchestra and appear here as revised in 2017. By means of multi-track layering, they’ve been rearranged for string quartet multiplied times five. Both pieces are quintessential Niblock — thickly textured swarms of drones made up of microtones and moving timbres. Sustaining the requisite long tones undoubtedly is a challenge to the players’ physical stamina, but the sounds never falter.

Martin set out to create a fecund dialectic of sound and music with the piece, and in that he has succeeded. (cqb_1922). […] Both pieces are quintessential Niblock — thickly textured swarms of drones made up of microtones and moving timbres. Sustaining the requisite long tones undoubtedly is a challenge to the players’ physical stamina, but the sounds never falter. (cqb_1924)

Critique

Louis Paulhus, Mes enceintes font défaut, March 15, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019 Press

Commençons par la fin… S’il y a une chose que je peux vous garantir lorsque vous écouterez Punt, c’est que vous ne vous ennuierez pas, c’est une promesse! La fusion des idées d’ Érick d’Orion et de Guillaume Cliche (avec qui nous avons eu la chance de discuter l’été dernier à propos du label Musique Maison) a permis l’élaboration d’un album rafraîchissant autant par son originalité que par sa pertinence. Mikroclimat nous a habitué·e·s à des parutions de grande qualité et nous sommes bien servis avec cette expérimentation électroacoustique qui repousse les limites. Pouvions-nous s’attendre à autre chose de la part de deux figures établies des sphères électroniques et expérimentales québécoises? Punt représente beaucoup plus qu’un botté de dégagement, c’est un spectaculaire et brillant touché.

À l’amorce de blitz, entame de cette colossale offrande, vous serez déjà dans l’ambiance désirée. Les deux compositeurs ne prennent aucun détour et débutent en force avec de rapides sonorités noise plutôt angoissantes. Il s’agit de l’atmosphère qui régnera sur l’intégralité des 9 morceaux. Les bruits sont stridents, voire même agressants par moment, mais nous en redemandons. Mon cerveau s’aligne sur le même canal que la musique qui résonne dans mes haut-parleurs et les deux entités forment un tout. Mon esprit s’égare dans ce monde qui bascule sans cesse. C’est un univers où les éléments s’entrechoquent parfois violemment, mais peuvent également se côtoyer avec beaucoup de délicatesse.

Les compositions de Cliche et d’Orion sont plus que du noise ou de l’électroacoustique; les styles varient et s’harmonisent dans cet élan de distorsion et de décibels. Le rythme augmente à quelques reprises sur l’album et le résultat en est terriblement efficace. Prenez mach, par exemple, où les percussions s’ajoutent à la fête pour donner un morceau aux apparences technoise qui donne drôlement envie de bouger. Ce segment n’est pas sans rappeler les créations acharnées du talentueux musicien Container qui manie si bien cette fine ligne entre l’ivresse de la techno et la brutalité du noise. Malgré cette intensité, nous avons également droit à des moments plus ambiants, comme sur Rio Grande où des mélodies atmosphériques et délicates agissent comme lien entre ces assemblages déconstruits et dynamiques.

Maintenant, il ne reste plus qu’à espérer que cette agréable collaboration se poursuive et qui sait, peut-être aurons-nous la chance de les voir sur scène prochainement?

Punt représente beaucoup plus qu’un botté de dégagement, c’est un spectaculaire et brillant touché.

Review

Simon Cummings, 5:4, March 5, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Press

One of the more memorable events at last year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival was the late night concert at Bates Mill given by Quatuor Bozzini, featuring music by Éliane Radigue and Phill Niblock. A few weeks ago, the Bozzinis released an album featuring two works by Niblock, including the one they played in Huddersfield, Disseminate as Five String Quartets. i have to admit that i was sceptical about the extent to which the experience could be adequately captured in a recording. Niblock’s endless waves of juddering pitch had made Bates Mill seem not simply filled but saturated, one minute feeling as though we were submerged in water, the next suffused with dazzling light. Either way, it was a veritable flood.

This recording goes a long way to living up to that mesmeric live encounter. Both works, in fact, inhabit this same soundworld, both starting life as orchestral pieces that Niblock reworked for a live string quartet plus four additional prerecorded quartets. Disseminate as Five String Quartets sets out with only the implication of stability, harmonically complex from the outset with something that may or may not be dronal at its core. This develops into a conflict where apparent stasis (the piece, after all, is built upon slow moving, drawn-out pitches) is continually undermined by strange undulations and shifts in its tonal makeup. Often, one becomes aware of something only after it’s actually been present for some time, and it’s similarly difficult to track the evolution of the work’s harmony, which from around halfway through has become seriously smeared, still dronal but tonally clusterfucked.

By contrast, Baobab begins in the utter clarity of octave unisons, which gradually shift out of alignment, allowing other notes (at first, only fifths) to encroach. Due to the proximity of the near-unisons in the first third of the piece, the combined texture resembles a vast squadron of planes, or perhaps the aural sensation of sitting at the dead centre of a hive of bees. Alien pitches in this context seem all the more jarring, threads out of alignment in an otherwise perfect weave, leading to a lengthy central episode where the opening octaves could hardly seem more distant. All the same, Baobab doesn’t explore the same range of harmonic complexity as Disseminate, instead playing more actively with how stable the music seems, on one occasion dropping out the lower register notes to give a brief illusion of balance.

With both pieces it’s more than usually the case that how one perceives them is going to be entirely unique. This is not merely due to individual perception, but the way and the specific locations (harmonic locations, i mean) where one focuses attention, which can be radically shifted by the slightest turn or tilt of the head, drastically altering the apparent pitch-content and pitch-emphasis of the music. It’s perhaps never been more true that multiple listens to the same recording result in completely different experiences.

The Bozzinis excel at this kind of intricate, infinite music — what we might call ‘upper case’ ambient — and it’s no hyperbole to say this recording really is almost as good as having them there in the room with you. Apropos: i’d recommend not listening to this album through headphones, which for me had the effect of making the textures sound reduced and diminished, even somewhat deadened. To get the desired effect, be sure to play through speakers — loud! — and thereby be overwhelmed by Niblock’s endless, extraordinary flood.

The Bozzinis excel at this kind of intricate, infinite music…

Review

Avant Scena, March 4, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Press

Sudoku pour Pygmées is released by Ambiances Magnetiques. All compositions of this album were composed by Canadian composer Jean Derome. This composer is famous, evocative and innovative musician of contemporary academical music scene. Innovative ideas, modern decisions, bright and tremendous contrasts, universal arsenal of playing techniques, expressions, styles and moods — all these elements make the main basic of his music. Jean Derome delicately and organically combines together academic avant-garde, experimental and contemporary academical music, free improvisations, polyphony, the main principes of classical music, modernism, minimalism and other music genres. His music always has especially wide and rich musical language — it’s emotional, vital, expressive and dynamic. Polyphony meets homophony, consonances are used all together with dissonances, dodecaphony, serialism, concrete, spectral, sonoristic music, minimalism, puantilism and the innovations of academic avant-garde. Composer manages to create a fusion of different styles — he connects avant-garde jazz and contemporary academical music, who is totally different from each other. All music of the akbum was recorded by ensemble Les Dangereux Zhoms+9.

Sudoku pour Pygmées is filled with contrasts, sudden turns, gorgeous virages and dynamic changes. The compositions are based on synthetic form — sometimes it’s open, sometimes strict and firm, based on all the main forms of classical music. Free improvisation is the key of all compositions. Even though the musicians don’t improvising all the time, their music is full of flowing melodies, spontaneous solos, stunning riffs and fascinating sound experiments. All musicians of ensemble are balancing between totally free and wild improvisation and the innovative, modern and evocative contemporary academical music. Composer shows his wide musical knownledge — he’s fusing together absolutely uncompairable pieces of sifferent styles. Rich musical pattern is based on the main rules of contemporary academical music and free improvisation, but also has many allusions to other music styles. The excerpts of famous dances, humorous, parhetic, gentle, light pieces, minimalistic samples, heavy hard core of rock styles, the sounds of electronics and computer devices, strict polyphony of baroque, the classical forms and citations of classicism — these elements bring evocative and inspiring sound. The music is especially moving and thrilling — it’s related to impressionism, post-impressionism, expressionism and modernism in many episodes. Jean Derome gives the opportunity to all the musicians to express themselfs without any effort. Each musician can get on sleepy or dreamy lullabies, subtle research of strange timbres, simple and minimalistic facture or jump on trendy, stunning, modern, evocative culminations or wild free improvisations. The huge variety of styles, expressions, tunes, pieces, moods and other elements finally makes a marvelous result. The music is inspiring, dynamic and driving. All musicians are brilliant — they are trying to recover and demonstrate original and exceptional sound and the main conception of the compositions. Vital and charming saxophones, expressive and turbulent piano, heavy and hard electric guitar, sharp and dramatic violin wild and growling trumpet and soft flute make the base of melodic line. Roaring blow outs, stunning culminations, terrific riffs, passionate solos, dizzy passages, humorous, glimpsy, driving, tremendous, trendy and impressive free improvisations are filled with gorgeous timbres, colorful tunes, strange noises and enchanting ornaments. Static and dark tuba, deep bass clarinet, dynamic percussion and variable drums section contain the colorful background and modern rhythmic section. All types of rhythms are used here — independent melodies are fused with enhanting passages, fabulous excerpts, gorgeous ornaments, rare combos, exotic tunes, nervous, scandalous and aggressive modern jazz, wild and thrilling free improvisations, spontaneous solos and various series of classical and contemporary academical music. The music is played impressively — musicians have a brilliant playing techniques, masterful virtuosity, the best quality of sound and driving style. The instrumentation is wide and universal — traditions, experiments, innovations, rare. exotic, awakening tunes are used together with shocking ways of playing. The musicians never make the chaos out of the compositions. Each of them is improvising wildly and expressively, but also has its own structure, who keep the form and mood of the album. Driving, dynamic, aggressive, splendid, gorgeous, tremendous, jolly, furious, dramatic, childish, naive, solemn, subtle, peaceful or scandalous — all kinds of moods are expressed here. The musicians create a marvelous set of original compositions, who are based on experimental musical decisions and fresh ideas.

The huge variety of styles, expressions, tunes, pieces, moods and other elements finally makes a marvelous result.

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