During some pure instrumental passages the similarities between trilling reeds and stroked strings is emphasized as mutual tonal expansions appears to be both notated and aleatoric. — The WholeNote, Canada
I often wonder how music will sound 500 years from now. Will the change be drastic — a stylistic upheaval — or just subtly different? […] Isaiah Ceccarelli’s Bréviaire d’épuisements is that person’s answer. — The Squid’s Ear, USA
Bréviaire d’épuisements, composed by the percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli, is a work woven from the delicate fabric of the tension between darkness and light: a metallic and tenebrous landscape over which the human voice attempts to break like the dawn. These short pieces for two singers, two bass clarinets, viola da gamba and solo percussion were composed for texts by the poet Marie Deschênes.
CD (AM 199)
- Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 199
- UCC 771028119929
- Total duration: 51:39
- Sympathique case
- 126 mm × 126 mm × 5 mm
- 35 g
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In the press
[…] Intertwining horn work is another leitmotif of Henneman’s combo, and in Toronto, Dörner shares the front line with Baars and Montréal’s Freedman. This sort of timbre blending is a regular facet of the bass clarinetist’s performances. It can be sampled on Isaiah Ceccarelli’s dramatic Bréviaire d’épuisements Ambiances Magnétiques AM 199 CD. Much different than the Henneman sextet’s jazz-oriented fare this session amalgamates the ecclesiastical and the atonal. Émilie Laforest and Josée Lalonde intone or vocalize Marie Deschênes’ texts, with distinctive sonic timbres heard alongside these lyric sopranos arising from Freedman’s and Philippe Lauzier’s bass clarinets, Pierre-Yves Martel’s viola de gamba and Ceccarelli’s percussion arsenal. The drummer’s most common strategy involves scrapping cymbals against drum tops, acoustically producing the sort of grinding and buzzing textures that otherwise would be associated with electronics. Meanwhile the cleverly harmonized singers personalize the poetic lyrics while stretching the songs with hocketing pitch variations. One standout passages occurs on La disparation est un mur de plus when the nearly vibrato-less parlando of one vocalist is cushioned by clarinet harmonies. During some pure instrumental passages the similarities between trilling reeds and stroked strings is emphasized as mutual tonal expansions appears to be both notated and aleatoric. […]
I often wonder how music will sound 500 years from now. Will the change be drastic — a stylistic upheaval — or just subtly different? I imagine someone 800 years ago speculated the same about the then-current awakening to polyphonic music (i.e. the motet). Isaiah Ceccarelli’s Bréviaire d’épuisements is that person’s answer.
At a squint, one can spot the shapes and forms of that era; there are several contiguous movements of different sizes and consistency, spiritual text in French (nothing you find in religious Canon, but a potential addendum to the Apocrypha), plainchant, occasional instrumental cantus firmus and organum. However, the modern spin by Ceccarelli and his sextet make this a truly unique adventure. The four solo sections of this thirteen-piece work is the first striking giveaway of where we are: bowed cymbal. Sometimes reverent, sometimes rude, Ceccarelli works a panoply of harmonics, tempo shifts (pulses via up / down strokes), buzzing, creaking with…well, you know how it sounds; it’s a daring yet somehow unifying pose against the rest of the aesthetic.
The rest of the album is realized by two voices (Émilie Laforest and Josée Lalonde), two bass clarinets (Lori Freedman and Philippe Lauzier) and Pierre-Yves Martel’s Viola da gamba, hinged on Ceccarelli’s compositions and on poems by Marie Deschênes. The pieces are intimate and recall John Cage and Joan La Barbara’s collaborations (i.e. Mirakus), the group conceiving each note as a delicate whisper (the title alludes to a breviary, or book of daily prayers and lessons, and the mood here is certainly early morning before the sun destroys pensive tranquility). The vocalists move in and out of tonal and rhythmic unison, canonic at times, as the orchestration breezes along in supple support; apart from the playful Intermède, the performers forego extended techniques and flamboyant showmanship for a well-placed drone and intriguing harmonic complexity — something, when combined with the aforementioned foothold in another era, escapes easy labels. Because of the diminutive gestures, the music never dips into textural murkiness, though the progression from work to work displays an increased penchant for dissonance (the liner notes call this a “tension between darkness and light”).
But enough with fitting Bréviaire d’épuisements into a box. Let’s garnish it with words from 13th century theorist Johannes de Grocheio:
“…not intended for the vulgar who do not understand its finer points and derive no pleasure from hearing it: it is meant for educated people and those who look for refinement in art.”
A bit snobby, but truthful.
Four new releases from Ambiances Magnetiques. One of them is by veteran Joane Hétu, who worked on a career that more then 25 years now. You may know her from all-women groups Wondeur Brass, Justine and Les Poules. Avant rock was their thing. Gradually Hetu moved however to more abstract territories and profiled herself as a composer. Récits de neige is the third part of a trilogy about winter, this time a very snowy winter. Effectively Hetu evokes and visualizes this climate. Helped out by the Ensemble Supermusique. Prominent is a french spoken text no doubt about winter and snow. The music often plays a servile role for the performance of the texts, and that works tiring from time to time. Many of the pure instrumental parts however, sometimes jazzy and always very inspired, learned me more about the winter. I enjoyed the interplay of the musicians and easily forgot all discomfortable aspects of the winter through this emotional work. Speaking of Danielle Roger Palardy I can repeat the above introduction as she walked a similar route as Hetu. Again we are in the company of a core member of the Montréal “musique actuelle” scene since 1980. She Works as a self-taught percussionist, composer and improviser. Her newest release Pinta, Niña & Maria, has much to offer. It brings together three pieces written for three very different ensembles: GGRIL, Ensemble SuperMusique and ECM+. This way Roger provides us an excellent overview of her new music activities. In the first composition by Roger many dissonants are included, in a context of thick and noisy sounds in part 3, whereas in part 4 and 5 the music is more subtile but again staying close to noisy textures and tensions. The second work blends electronics with acoustical instruments, composed in an more traditional style with rock elements. The third piece starts like a piece of string-based chambermusic, but is mixed with percussive and other sounds of electronic and acoustical origin. With Rouge Ciel we are in the company of younger generation of musicians but not necessarily presented to more up to date music. Bryologie is the third effort by this avant rock group. A band led by Guido Del Fabbro (violin and electronics), and completed by Simon Lapointe (keyboards), Antonin Provost (guitars) and Nemo Venba (trumpet and drums). More then on their earlier records they profile themselves as a rockband. Continuing a line that had more representatives in the past of Ambiances Magnetiques. Now they are most close to Miriodor considering this aspect. One could think from this Rouge Ciel lives in the past, but that does no justice to them. Using forms that we know from the past they are not into a simple retro journey without any phantasy. Far from it. Their instrumental music is rock-based but intelligently combined with improvisation. Although they play with energy and drive, their compositions miss that little extra to make it really worthwhile. The true surprise this time comes from Isaiah Ceccarelli, a drummer, improviser, composer and singer from Montréal. His newest work, Bréviaire d’épuisements, is composed for two singers, two bass clarinets, viola da gamba and solo percussion. It is a collection of short pieces composed in a stripped down manner for texts by poet Marie Deschênes. In contrast with the other three CDs is one chooses for a much more sober approach. From a drummer one expects playing dominated by rhythm. But that is not the case here. In contrast Ceccarelli is more involved in drones and textures, that is illustrated impressively by the opening track. The first of four instrumental interludes that are mixed with seven vocal parts. Like the composition also the singing and playing is very disciplined, giving all the subtleties maximum strength. I don’t know what the poems are about, but the work almost has the effect on me of some kind of prayer. It is not for this association that I liked this one most.
Bréviaire d’épuisements, composed by the percussionist Isaiah Ceccarelli, is a work woven from the delicate fabric of the tension between darkness and light: a metallic and tenebrous landscape over which the human voice attempts to break like the dawn. This is Montréal-based drummer Isaiah Ceccarelli’s fifth disc on Quebec’s AM label as a leader or co-leader. The music on this disc is most often based on textures rather than on rhythmic structures. Solo 1 opens & features the eerie sound of bowed cymbals, which creates a mysterious other-worldly vibe. There is a seven part suite that features both female vocalists. Their voices are soft and dreamy and filled with haunting harmonies. Although the words are in French and printed in the liner notes, it is the sound of both voices that is most enchanting. There are four solo percussion sections placed in between the parts of the suite. Each one creates an oasis of strange yet soothing ambiance. The bass clarinets and viola da gamba, a smaller rounded on the bottom cello-like instrument, are well used to add other more carefully crafted sections to ponder the words which precede them. Considering that Mr. Ceccarelli is a fine drummer, there is little rhythmic interplay employed. The overall vibe is often stunning nonetheless.
Compositeur, percussionniste et chanteur originaire de Colombie-Britannique, Isaiah Ceccarelli est maintenant établi à Montréal. Il nous offre ici un disque tout en dualité, où des pièces instrumentales très noisy (feedback et frottements de métaux) sont placées en opposition avec des duos vocaux (Émilie Laforest et Josée Lalonde) doux et harmonieux. Il y a aussi les deux clarinettes basses de Lori Freedman et Philippe Lauzier qui les accompagnent (comme la très discrète basse de viole de Pierre-Yves Martel), et dont un très beau duo sépare le disque en deux parties. Épuisant? Plutôt le contraire! L’équivalent auditif du roulage dans la neige en sortant du sauna!
Et puis la chute. Et puis plus rien. Et puis beaucoup trop. Combat contre la surtaxe d’images perdues, d’époques mortes. Vétustes choix (de carrière). Le recul comme couteau au cœur, le demain comme cauchemar nécessaire. Inéluctabilisme profond d’une condition humaine gâchée. Suivant les traces chantées de Steppe, Josée Lalonde raconte en duo avec Émilie Laforest l’histoire d’un désordre. Lori Freedman, Pierre-Yves Martel, Philippe Lauzier et notre chef mécanique, Isaiah Cecarrelli s’occupent du reste. La fermeture de l’usine a tué papa. Les résidus du culte d’autrefois tueront maman.
- François Couture, Monsieur Délire, November 24, 2010