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Artists A_dontigny

Self-taught composer, Aimé Dontigny is one of the founding members of the ‘free noise’ collective Napalm Jazz (Free transgénique, 1998), and of the duet morceaux_de_machines (liberum arbitrium, 2002; Estrapade, 2004).

He devotes himself eagerly to the numerous challenges offered bu the new forms of modern and contemporary improvised musics, and is particularly interested in the development and recognition of those expressive artforms. Since 2003, he has been actively involved in the creation of the Canadian New Music Network, a national, bilingual organization aiming at promoting and widening the horizons to ‘new music’ (in its broader definition).

His works comprise multiple subltes quotes and references, and his acoustic palette adapts to many different aesthetics, as demonstrate his projects with Diane Labrosse (Télépathie, 2002), Chantal Dumas (Duophone, 2003) and his ongoing yet unreleased collaboration with composer Paul Dolden.

As did numerous western composers of all times, Dontigny frequently finds his inspiration in literature. One of his projects, titled Sine Fiction, has for a daring premice the creation of ‘original soundtracks’, not for films but for books; in that very case, science fictions novels among the most groundbreaking and popular of the genre. One can also perceive in many of his works the direct influence of writers as diverse as William S Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, Guy Debord and Denis Vanier.

Another characteristics of Dontigny’s compositions is the prevailance that is therein granted to a meditation on the history of music, literally: in that sense, his work is really one of ‘reflexive’ purpose, as through it the musician questions his own role as an artist, the conditions of possibility of an understanding of music and of the limits of its experience, inviting the listener to ‘think’ as well. Dontigny reflects both on practice and on musical theory; in that perspective, the quotes in his pieces are not accidental. Dontigny directs his research towards a rooting of art in history: can we deny for much longer that music, while so profoundly linked to technological advances and innovations, and embedded in telecommunication industries themselves subordinated to certain economic factors, that music is a direct product of its community? Can an artist claim heteronomy, or does he have to endorse political responsabilities? Aimé Dontigny makes the choice of commitment; his works provoque debate and exchange of ideas, yet they put the sensible experience first. Dontigny speaks as a musician and as a modern and post-modern music historian.

Dontigny regularly presents his work in live settings and in various festivals, such as Rien à voir, Mutek, Périphériques and AlgoRythm(e)s (Montréal), Clonk (Toronto), Digidome (Saskatoon), Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville, Résonances (Saint-Nazaire, France), Haunted Folklore (Brussels, Belgium), Totally Huge New Music Festival (Perth, Australia), and Electrofringe New Media Arts Festival (Newcastle, Australia).



Quebec City (Québec), 1975

Residence: Ottawa (Ontario, Canada)

  • Composer
  • Performer (laptop, prepared CDs, electronic percussion)


Associated groups

On the web

A_dontigny [Photo: Philémon Girouard, April 20, 2002]
A_dontigny [Photo: Philémon Girouard, April 20, 2002]
  • morceaux_de_machines in concert at the Scotiabank Dance Centre [Photo: Magali Babin, Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada), October 22, 2005]
  • morceaux_de_machines live at the Western Australian Academy of Peforming Arts [Mount Lawley (Western Australia, Australia), October 11, 2005]
  • morceaux_de_machines — Noise interpretation workshop with students from the Western Australian Academy of Peforming Arts [Mount Lawley (Western Australia, Australia), October 11, 2005]
  • morceaux_de_machines — Artist talk at the Inaugural Totally Huge New Music Festival Conference [Mount Lawley (Western Australia, Australia), October 8, 2005]
  • morceaux_de_machines — Disorientation event held at the Abercrombie Hotel [Sydney (New South Wales, Australia), October 6, 2005]
  • morceaux_de_machines, Érick d’Orion, A_dontigny [Photo: James Schidlowsky, November 25, 2004]
  • morceaux_de_machines, A_dontigny, Érick d’Orion [Photo: James Schidlowsky, November 25, 2004]
  • morceaux_de_machines in concert, O Patro Vys [Photo: James Schidlowsky, Montréal (Québec), November 25, 2004]

Main releases

&records / ET 05 / 2008
No Type / IMNT 0715 / 2007
No Type / IMNT 0413 / 2004
No Type / IMNT 081 / 2003
No Type / IMNT 0204 / 2002


Various artists
Victo / VICTO 113 / 2009
Various artists
Déluge / DS 6 / 2002


Various artists
Déluge / DS 7 / 2003
  • Out of print
Déluge / DS 8 / 2002
  • Out of print
Subverseco / SUB 022 / 2002
  • Out of print

In the press

Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville: Day 3

John Kelman, All About Jazz, May 21, 2007

With a festival as inherently risk-taking as the Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), it’s a given that some shows will work better than others. There may also be failed experiments, but it’s to the festival’s credit that it doesn’t rely on the tried-and-true. Invariably, even the less-successful performances are, at the very least, worth checking out.

Day three of the 24th edition of FIMAV was all about operating without a safety net — and, as usual, within a wide array of musical contexts — with some of this year’s most and least successful shows yet. […]

Victoriaville matière sonore

Contrasting with Signal Quintet’s performance, Victoriaville matière was a strong idea on paper that didn’t always succeed in the implementation. The premise was good: construct a forum for a number of composers/sound artists to create individual pieces based on field recordings made around the Victoriaville area. Have the process overseen by renowned experimental blender of natural and industrial sounds, Francisco López, and link the pieces together into a single work with a broader overriding arc. In addition to López, Aimé Dontigny, Louis Dufort, Chantal Dumas, Steve Heimbecker, Mathieu Lévesque, Hélène Prévost and Thomas Phillips all contributed to the 90-minute show.

Similar to the Theresa Transistor performance on Day Two, but in the larger Colisée venue, the artists were placed in the center of the hall, surrounded on all sides by the audience and with a sound system facing in around the periphery of the hall. With the equipment setup on a riser with minimal blue lighting, there was little for the audience to watch, encouraging it, instead, to simply absorb the sounds without visuals and to find meanings on a more personal and imagination-driven level.

The eight pieces were linked by a nature recording of birds, used to allow one artist to leave the center stage so that the next could take his/her place. Other than FIMAV CEO and Artistic Director Michel Levasseur’s usual spoken introduction to the show, there was no applause between pieces, nor was there any announcement of order of events, so it was impossible to know whose pieces belonged to whom.

Intriguing sounds were many and diverse, ranging from the natural to the artificial, and there was considerable processing applied. Like Theresa, equal importance was given to where individual sounds appeared and to how they traveled around the aural landscape. The problem was that, to a large extent, the approaches used were obvious and often overly dramatic. Lacking the nuance of Signal Quintet (and, because these were solitary pieces, the interaction of the earlier performance), the overall levels were high, the sounds often overly dense and the collages often too busy for the listener to sense any sort of unified statement.

Sometimes it’s good to make the audience come to the music rather than the other way around, and a better balance of dynamics and more discernable narrative for each piece would have made the entire show more successful. Still, credit is due for an imaginative experiment that, some shortfalls notwithstanding, was well worth pursuing.

Intriguing sounds were many and diverse, ranging from the natural to the artificial, and there was considerable processing applied.

Label Feature

Ios Smolders, Earlabs, May 19, 2006

This is one of the early netlabels, starting in 1998, and one that still exists because it has a steady drive. It’s therefore only natural that it should be one of the first of series of feature articles on netlabels. I had an e-mail chat with Aimé Dontigny, the current director at No Type.

I have monitored the releases of No Type right from the beginning. When I first started thinking about a goal for my own internet activities (I had been a webmaster for a corporate for a couple of years) the obvious thing was to do something with music. Somehow I ran into No and was immediately captured by the cool metropolitan feel of the site. What was most interesting, apart from the look and feel and the slight of hand texts combined with professional design was that you could actually download music from the site. And not just a few short samples but complete ‘albums’. That was something that I wanted as well. I contacted webhost David Turgeon who generously allowed me to upload files on the server that he was using as well. We have not been in touch for quite a few years, but I initiated new contact because of this article.

David Turgeon is described as follows on No Type (it’s quite inaptly called a biography): “Obfuscationist composer, strategist of sonic vagueness, and sometimes even performer (Camp, Ensemble Camp, Asyncdrone, Period Three, L’Île de béton…), David Turgeon, founder of the No Type label, is also known as a graphic designer, DJ (as part of the 10,000 Teenage Girl Posse) inventor of arcane programming languages and the author of a graphic novel, La muse récursive, to be published in 2006.” That really doesn’t tell very much about his activities. For one, I know that he also works for the renowned Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes.

What defines the No Type label? I really don’t know. Improvisational noise, rhythmical technoid, drones, punkish, (classically structured) electronic music, jazz, phonography; it’s all there. What combines it, is probably the edginess. It’s never easy, there is always excitement. Every release is something special. Where other labels sort of extrude a continuous stream of ambient techno dub produced with the same software again and again (Ableton Live… again…) 99% of the No Type releases hold a surprise. And if there is no music available that meets the standards, then there will be no release. Simple as that. Aimé Dontigny, current director: “The common denominator is: off the mark. We support: artists who are not at ease within their genres; musics that will never find a public with the exception of the adventurous and/or the snotty; ideas that are so revolutionary they must be encrypted in light-hearted idm or lo-fi folk; free improv that believes in freedom, not in idiom; noise that encompass the inaudible, the dramatic, the refined, the subtle; etc. etc. etc. And we also strongly support Beauty, Craftsmanship, Dedication, and Audacity.”

The No Type label started producing hardcopy releases as well, in 2002. To me, that was a very strange decision. Actually a jump back in time. But fortunately the online releases kept coming, as well. Dontigny explains: “We started releasing physical releases in order to better help our artists. Most of the time, mp3 albums don’t get you invited to festivals, don’t get you royalties, don’t get you print reviews, don’t get you a another record.”

I have seen the explosion of David’s energy wander off in 2004 and 2005. What about the future? Now that Aimé is director, what are his plans?

“First, restart a steady flow of mp3 releases, We’ll still see new names and some of our regular artists, but I will also try to give musicians from diverse experimental scenes outside of No Type an opportunity to release more personnal or perplexing works. So expect some surprises in the near future.”

“Also, we’ll re-focus our physical production. CD releases will be rarer, more unique, project-specific adventures (For exemple, like our 2003 Montréal Free 4-CD boxset of Montréal-based acoustic improv).”

“We’ll also be gradually leaving the CD format behind; expect some DVD-ROMs, multichannel DVD-Audio’s, and others. We will move beyond the ‘one medium collection’ and, in the short-term, even the mp3 releases will no longer be distinct from the other formats on our website. Of course, we’ll still release CDs when deamed appropriate by the artist and us, but, for the last 4 years, I think we lost too much energy in the ‘all-CD’ mentality.”

“Many artists have left No Type over the years (some temporarily, some others for good), and it’s a normal thing. Because we often support artists at the start of their careers, some have stopped making music after a while, and others have moved on to more successful careers on other labels.”

No doubt No Type will find new gems!

What defines the No Type label? I really don’t know. Improvisational noise, rhythmical technoid, drones, punkish, (classically structured) electronic music, jazz, phonography; it’s all there.

Morceaux de médias

Grégoire Courtois, Fluctuat, October 1, 2003

a_dontigny et Diane Labrosse, deux figures majeures de la nouvelle scène électronique canadienne, s’associent le temps d’un concert pour un troublant moment de symbiose électronique.

D’un côté nous avons Aimé Dontigny, membre actif du (net-)label montréalais No Type, fondateur du collectif Napalm Jazz et deuxième moitié du duo Morceaux_de_machines. De l’autre, Diane Labrosse, électron hyperactif qu’on a vu collaborer régulièrement depuis les années 80 avec des pointures comme Ikue Mori, Martin Tétreault ou d’autres musiciens du label Tzadik de John Zorn. Le résultat sur le papier promettait une double déferlante bruitiste mais c’est avec quatre pistes subtiles qu’on se retrouve, faites de chuintements, de larsen, de cracks et de sons blancs certes, mais paisiblement assenés comme autant de notes de musique. C’est ainsi très rapidement qu’on oublie le duo et ces deux voix surgies de l’échantillonneur de Diane Labrosse et de l’ordinateur de Dontigny se fondent en une seule, lancinante et d’une redoutable efficacité.

Enregistré à la Casa del Popolo le 20 avril 2002, ce concert est donc une vraie réussite, tant au niveau du rythme, très maîtrisé par les deux protagonistes, que du point de vue des sonorités exceptionnellement complémentaires.

Tout au long du disque, c’est en effet pétrifié que l’on assiste aux virages de la composition et aux enchaînements de timbres avec un plaisir d’autant plus important que l’on sait la totale improvisation de la performance. Sur ce point, la réactivité de Dontigny et de Labrosse force le respect et on comprend pourquoi Fragments, segments, séquences a été rebaptisé Télépathie.

Pur médium

Le disque s’ouvre sur le morceau t.s.f., inquiétantes variations autour de nappes de cordes et de grésillements blancs. La détérioration progressive de ce qui semble être un sample extrait du groupe de violons d’un orchestre, méthodiquement dévoré par des craquellements feutrés de plus en plus envahissants, dessine un paysage noyé dans les volutes de fumée d’une catastrophe passée et ce que notre oreille reconnaît comme une orchestration classique prend le statut de débris, de reliquat d’un monde perdu.

Ainsi on pourra interpréter le titre du morceau, soit l’un des premiers appareil de diffusion radiophonique à entrer dans les foyers, à la fois comme le témoignage fidèle des perturbations d’ondes qu’on pouvait entendre à cette époque, mais aussi comme l’idée que ces interventions du hasard sur la matière sonore sont aujourd’hui révolues, polies par la perfection d’un matériel haute-fidélité.

A part l’homme éveillé, qui est encore en mesure de stopper ou modifier le message publicitaire vertical directement de l’émetteur au récepteur? C’est l’une des questions posées tout au long de l’album, aux accents glitch même si la perturbation de signal est ici totalement maîtrisée et ne laisse que très peu de place au hasard.

Grondement du monde

Engagé par ce premier morceau en guise d’introduction thématique, le concert ne s’écartera jamais de sa problématique médiatique, tantôt bouillonnant d’une sombre agitation, carnaval de particules sonores déchaînées se mettant à envahir le spectre musical comme autant de voix électroniques interceptées alors qu’elles fonçaient autour du globe (antenne parabolique), tantôt grondement para-humain des appareils, révélant la vie propre des systèmes de mesure et de quadrillage de notre environnement (photo satellite), gospel hermétique de ces nouveaux esclaves de circuits imprimés à qui nous demandons tout sans jamais prendre la peine de les écouter.

Les ambiances développées dans la seconde partie du live deviennent ainsi progressivement tragiques, presque mélancoliques et c’est aussi lors de ces moments de tension retenue que les deux musiciens parviennent à cette symbiose surnaturelle dont nous parlions plus haut.

Offensive radiophonique

A ce titre, c’est le dernier morceau, média tactique, qui est le plus troublant, tant les voix de Labrosse et Dontigny parviennent à totalement se fondre l’une dans l’autre avec un aplomb rageur qui prolonge un discours introductif provenant visiblement d’une émission de radio et vantant la liberté de consommer du cannabis.

Orientées par la seule citation du disque, les variations abstraites qui suivent acquièrent donc paradoxalement un sens à la fois militant et neutre, prônant à demi-mot la ré-appropriation du mass-media, le droit à la subversion politique et musicale (un sample de reggae méconnaissable termine l’album) et concluent dans l’espoir ce panorama de la suprématie médiatique en apportant la preuve indéniable que tout objet invisible lancé dans la foule des hommes est sujet à sa ré-interprétation, que celle-ci soit effectuée par les aléas d’une technique pensante ou bien par l’esprit critique de quelques hommes échangeant leurs points de vue.

Une force mystique empêcherait-elle l’humanité de sombrer dans l’uniformisation imposée par la technique? C’est de toute évidence l’hypothèse doucement sous-entendue par cette miraculeuse télépathie.

… une vraie réussite, tant au niveau du rythme, très maîtrisé par les deux protagonistes, que du point de vue des sonorités exceptionnellement complémentaires.


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