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Review

François Couture, AllMusic, 1 décembre 2005

Jocelyn Robert had been very quiet during the first half of the 2000’s, but it seems that Pandore is designed to help us catch up. This 4-CD box set offers four individually-packaged, stand-alone albums featuring four very different projects. Disc 1 is titled 6 Drawers 4 Spoons and credited to SoukSouk, Robert’s duo with Éric Gagnon. This album is more vibrant, vital and "musical" than the other three. Through three lengthy pieces, Robert and Gagnon combine myriads of sound sources, from acoustic guitar to street recordings and electronics, to develop an alluring form of cinema for the ear that (mostly due to the guitar parts) strongly evokes Giuseppe Ielasi’s works. Disc 2 is a solo Robert work, Slow Sparks from the Split-Voiced Buddha. The single 40-minute piece is based on field recordings of workers’ songs in Lhassa, Tibet. These songs appear untouched at the beginning and end of the work. Elsewhere, they are heavily treated into long, sinuous drones. The result has a cold esthetical beauty to it, but it doesn’t sustain the listener’s interest all the way through. Disc 3, Les Scaphandres is Robert’s second collaboration on record with Laetitia Sonami, following 1999’s Le Crachecophage. Here, the duo dives straight into noise art, each one of the six pieces exploring extreme electroacoustics (rather than full-force blows a la Merzbow). The final album, 24 exercices de parallaxe, features a collaboration with Louis Ouellet. It consists of a series of 24 short pieces generated randomly by a Disklavier interface (a Yamaha piano retrofitted with a computer controlling a piano-player mechanism) from software programmed by Robert and Ouellet. The 24 two-minute pieces are surprisingly pretty. They keep the listener in a state of expectation, balancing chaos and order in a way reminiscent of Koji Asano’s piano pieces. Considering the price of admission, this box set is not for the newcomer. Start off with La Théorie des Nerfs Creux, 20 Moments Blancs Lents and Canned Gods. Then, if Robert’s musical concepts intrigue you, save up for this eclectic Pandora’s box.

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