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Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no 527, 23 mai 2006

Robert is a sound artist from Quebec. Originally working as an architect he changed to music in the 80s. First results were released by the label of Chris Cutler, ReR Records. In the 90s he founded with Christof Migone the Avatar collective, a center for soundart in Quebec. Now Ambiances Magnétiques creates a new opportunity for learning more about his work. The box contains four different and extensive works. The set starts with 6 Drawers, 4 Spoons (Souk Souk). This work starts with environmental sounds, followed by gentle guitar-playing by Robert and Éric Gagnon, treated orchestral sounds, ethnic recordings, speeded up noisy rock, etc. At the end the guitar-playing returns. CD two has a forty minute piece called Slow Sparks from the Split-Voiced Buddha. It begins and ends with a field recording of traditional singing by workers in Lhasa to and in between we hear what the title indicates ‘slow sparks from the split-voiced buddha’, in other words long sustained notes and drones that are derived from the field-recordings. Les scaphandres which fills up the third CD is another 40 minute piece divided in 6 parts worked out Robert and Laetitia Sonami. Part one starts with very harsh noises. It deals with a text, but not approached as written language, but as a numerical object. On CD four Robert cooperates with Louis Ouellet in ‘24 exercises de parallaxe’. 24 variations all of almost the same length for piano mécanique. Composition and computer programming make up the constitutive elements of this work. Of all four works this is the most ‘musical’ one in the traditional sense of the word. No doubt a release of this format, offers a representative introduction to the work of Robert.

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