Various artists

Ohmix is consistently worthwhile. The Wire, UK

Avatar invited eight composers to select at will from OHM éditions’ audio production from 1993 to 1998. They remixed excerpts, full pieces, entire cds or even the whole catalog. These different approaches result in a varied listening and also mark a return visit to Avatar in its foundational form: Christof Migone, Jocelyn Robert, Pierre-André Arcand, the first collective projects and the precursors in Québec City, Bruit TTV.

With this project Avatar remains close to its namesake. It metamorphizes, transforms itself and rematerializes in new pieces signed by eminent contributors. From Ralf Wehowsky to Alexandre St-Onge, each “reading” takes aim, at a particular angle, and positions itself as an encounter, a meeting in sound. The junctures are shared amplifications, they are augmented renderings produced by fine tuned auditions.

OHMIX contributes to the history of OHM éditions and Avatar, it is a commentary, a conversation on and with. Avatar is still and by definition always already something other than itself; the media it utilizes attest to this (video, CD+, CD, CD-ROM, software, interfaces, new systems) as well as its activities (residencies, workshops, telematic events, radio art, performances, concerts) yet even these cannot purport to delimit its permanent slippage.

CD (AVTR 022)

  • Label: OHM / Avatar
  • AVTR 022
  • 2001
  • UCC 771028212224
  • Total duration: 60:27
  • 127 mm × 142 mm × 7 mm
  • 60 g

On the web

In the press

A Gift Idea: Expand Someone’s Horizons

François Couture,, November 25, 2003

The Holidays are closing in. Are you wondering what gifts to buy this year? You’re looking for the original gift, the one that will surprise and please? Why not expand the musical horizons of a loved one, a colleague at work, or a cousin you haven’t seen since last Christmas? Here’s my highly personal selection of gift ideas to introduce someone (or yourself, you’re allowed to indulge from time to time!) to the wonderful world of “musique actuelle.”

That good ol’ song

It may seem a bit easy, but everyone likes a good song. That said, we don’t all have the same definition of what a good song is. And the artists in DAME’s catalog take some liberties with this format — that’s what makes things exciting. But Geneviève Letarte’s Chansons d’un jour will please anyone looking for songs with intelligent, accessible melodies and poetic lyrics. The soft melancholy of Chants des adieux, chants de la solitude will profoundly move dreamers in search of a different voice (Lou Babin’s, irresistible).

You don’t understand French? The lyrics of Jerry Snell’s album Life in the Suicide Riots will make you think hard about the world we live in. And the chugging guitar riffs of André Duchesne ’s Locomotive will catch the attention of any rock fan, even one deaf to French. Speaking of rock, the deconstructed rock of the all-female group Justine can keep you busy for a while, lyrics or no lyrics. Their first album (Suite) is a powerful mixture of progressist rock, while their second Langages fantastiques leans more toward improvised songs. If you want a taste of what songwriting avant-garde artists can come up with, try the compilation album Chante! 1985-2000, a wide and wild selection of unusual songs.

Party time

A time for celebrating, letting off steam, and disobedience, the party when applied to music can give way to a distortion of admitted rules. L’Orkestre des pas perdusinjects a new form of circus life into fanfare music, an infectious R ’n’ B (rhythm ’n’ brass, of course) that will refresh any parade. Its cousin Les Projectionnistes (both bands are led by Claude St-Jean) trades circus for rock and the brass section transforms from funny fanfare to frenetic funk. Taking a different approach, the Fanfare Pourpour leaves the official parade attire behind to favor the spontaneity of a street fanfare. It’s music for “everyone” (Tout le monde, the title of their first album) without dropping to the lowest common denominator.

In a similar spirit, but adding an East-European flavor and an incredible dose of energy is the group Interférence Sardines, which features two members of the neo-trad group Les Batinses. Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms walks a jazzier road, but its frivolous side easily becomes delightfully exuberant. The group’s three albums are all highly recommended, but Carnets de voyage remains an excellent place to start. And I find the same spirit of excessiveness and raw emotion in La boulezaille (Pierre Langevin and Pierre Tanguay) and Plinc! Plonc! (Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay), two albums where world music, jazz and free improvisation collide.

And to boldly go where few have gone before

Maybe you would like to go further and hook someone on a kind of “musique actuelle” that is more daring and abstract. Here are a few key albums from DAME’s catalogue in improvised and electronic music.

Martin Tétreault is one of the most fascinating experimental artists right now. His technique at the turntable spins 45 questions per minute. His recent album with Diane Labrosse, Parasites, puts disquieting quiet sounds under the microscope. And Studio — Analogique — Numérique, his fresh collaboration with the Japanese mastermind Yoshihide Otomo, proposes cutting-edge sonic research in very original packaging: a box set of three 3” CDs.

A pillar of the avant-garde music scene since the early ‘70s, Fred Frith remains the favorite of many connoisseurs. The two albums by the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet (with René Lussier, Nick Didkovsky and Mark Stewart) are essential listens. DAME also distributes the titles released by Frith’s own Fred Records.

One of the first groups from the DAME stables to have explored electroacoustic improvisation, the Klaxon Gueule trio revels in noisy textures and demanding pleasures. Their last two albums Muets and Grain met critical acclaim. And I also want to mention the Ohmix compilation album, a daring electronic project where select artists (including Martin Tétreault, David Kristian, John Oswald, Terre Thaemlitz, and Ralf Wehowsky) remix the albums of the label Avatar.

Finally, instead of sending out the usual Christmas cards, consider the sound post cards produced by the label Ouïe-Dire. These are regular post cards accompanied by 3” CDs from French experimental artists. And happy Holidays!

Soundcheck Review

Julian Cowley, The Wire, no. 216, February 1, 2002

For Ohmix the Quebec based Avatar Foundation invited eight composers to plunder the back catalogue of its OHM Éditions imprint and produce new work through their remixes and transformations. German recyclist Ralf Wehowsky, of P16.D4, kicks things off with a steadily building shimmer that peaks in a flurry of samples followed by a gentle, pulsing decline. Montréal turntablist Martin Tetreault’s brief contribution collapses muitiple sources into a jittery flux, music and voice sped up and whisked into an agitated state. French composer Christian Calon produces a tense dystopian piece in which an impoverished and seemingly distressed human voice is hemmed in by shadowy electroacoustic forms. Terre Thaemlitz contributes Transit(ional Edit) a clicking gridlock of synthetic horn sounds, an angry and terminally immobile jam. There are two pieces from arch plunderer John Oswald. Ohmigone (re)constructs a radio phone conversation, empty words drifting amongst inhuman sounds in a communication vacuum. Ridge builds from ripples to waves to a breaker of lush piano music. Spikier piano runs through an animated piece by Diane Labrosse, who has played with the groups Wondeur Brass and Justine. Tinkling bells, organ chords and reedy blasts, cartoon squeaks and distorted human voices are among the other elements in this soundtrack to some enigmatic narrative. Ambient technician David Kristian spins out an enigma of another kind. His Ohmite gradually intensifies from pinpoint to full glare without ever revealing the source of its luminous throb. Finally Alexandre St-Onge, an improvising associate of Kristian, drains the remaining air from the Ohmix atmosphere, mimicking the micro rhythms of a puncture or a gas cylinder with an open valve. A long, measured breath out. The OHM policy of taking risks often results in albums that include arresting episodes yet are uneven overall. A more selective project, Ohmix is consistently worthwhile.

Ohmix is consistently worthwhile.

More texts

  • Luke Martin, Splendid E-Zine, March 3, 2002