actuellecd The New & Avant-garde Music Store

Artists Alexandre St-Onge

Alexandre St-Onge is an audio artist, a musician/improviser (bass, voice and electronics) and a sonic performer. Philosophiae doctor (PhD) in art (UQAM, 2015), he is fascinated by creativity as a pragmatic approach to the ungraspable and he has publised over ten solo works including Nude de chose de même (Le laps), VUEIEN (Errant Bodies Press), Semblances (Avatar), viorupeeeeihean (Oral) and Kasi Naigo (squintfuckerpress) amongst others. He founded squintfuckerpress with Christof Migone and he plays in quite a few bands which released several albums: Et Sans, K.A.N.T.N.A.G.A.N.O., Klaxon Gueule, Pink Saliva, mineminemine, Shalabi Effect, Les esprits frappeurs and undo. As a composer he has worked for interdisciplinary company kondition pluriel, as well as composing for artists such as Marie Brassard, Karine Denault, Lynda Gaudreau, Line Nault, Jérémie Niel, Maryse Poulin and Mariko Tanabe.

[iii-17]

Alexandre St-Onge

Montréal (Québec), 1976

Residence: Quebec City (Québec)

  • Composer
  • Performer (double bass)
  • Improviser

Associated groups

On the web

Alexandre St-Onge [Photo: Marion Gotti, 2015]
Alexandre St-Onge [Photo: Marion Gotti, 2015]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Joane Hétu, Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen, Émilie Girard-Charest [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]
  • From left to right, in the back: Isaiah Ceccarelli, Vergil Sharkya’, Alexandre St-Onge, Preston Beebe. In front: Jean Derome, Scott Thomson, Julie Houle, Philippe Lauzier, Cléo Palacio-Quintin, Elizabeth Millar, Craig Pedersen [Photo: Céline Côté, Montréal (Québec), November 22, 2018]

Main releases

Sono sordo / S 07 / 2018
Sono sordo / S 02 / 2016
Sono sordo / S 03 / 2016
  • Temporarily out of stock
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 220, AM 220_NUM / 2014
&records / ET 23 / 2014
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 211, AM 211_NUM / 2012
&records / ET 17 / 2012
&records / ET 18 / 2012
&records / ET 11 / 2010
Oral / ORAL 36a / 2010
Oral / ORAL 36b / 2010
Oral / ORAL 58, ORAL 58_CDR / 2010
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 194, AM 194_NUM / 2009
Oral / ORAL 22 / 2007
Squint Fucker Press / SQUINT 00I / 2006
Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 52 / 2005
Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 61 / 2005
Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 42 / 2004
&records / ET 03 / 2004
Squint Fucker Press / SQUINT 00G / 2004
Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 32 / 2002
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 101, AM 101_NUM / 2002
Squint Fucker Press / SQUINT 00C / 2001
Alien8 Recordings / ALIEN 22 / 2000
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 076, AM 076_NUM / 1999
UE
Ambiances Magnétiques / AM 052, AM 052_NUM / 1997

In the press

  • Adam Kinner, The Gazette, January 30, 2009
    Walking into L’Envers is like entering a scene from the ‘70s East Village. If Patti Smith were on the old couch in the corner talking to the motley assortment of Montréal improvisers, artists, gallerists and dancers typical of a L’Envers audience I wouldn’t bat an eye.
  • Mathieu Bélanger, Panpot, May 18, 2008
    (Juste) Claudette definitely turned out to be one of the most enjoyable concert of the 25th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville.
  • Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight, October 20, 2005
    … the Montréal-born idiom known as musique actuelle really is capable of embracing almost everything from the minimalist gestures of Babin and Hétu to the ear-scorching aural firestorms of Dontigny and d’Orion.
  • Manu Holterbach, Revue & Corrigée, no. 52, June 1, 2002
    … l’expérience de l’ombre.…

L’Envers and Gordon Allen

Adam Kinner, The Gazette, January 30, 2009

Walking into L’Envers is like entering a scene from the ’70s East Village. If Patti Smith were on the old couch in the corner talking to the motley assortment of Montréal improvisers, artists, gallerists and dancers typical of a L’Envers audience I wouldn’t bat an eye. This is the newest music venue in the Mile-End and everything from the large photos on the wall—by the very talented Marie-Ève Dompierre — to the warehouse-style windows, the turn-of-the-century wooden support beams, and the homemade feel of the space suggests that this is a space run by artists for artists and audiences alike.

The mastermind behind the scenes is Gordon Allen. An incredible trumpet player and improviser, a talented organizer, a quick-witted schmoozer, an hilarious MC and a big-hearted friend of at least half of the musicians in Montréal, Allen is just what Montréal needs to get its improvised music scene off and running. He’ll emerge from the dense crowd, clad in a porkpie hat and cuffed shirt, beaming at how well the evening is going, how well the musicians are playing, and how many great people have showed up.

Along with three other like-minded musicians, he’s responsible for this new hotspot. Together they’ve worked to create a space committed to presenting music, dance, and performance — “anything that involves improvisation” — that would otherwise have trouble being shown. Their mandate is to offer the excellent musicians of Montréal a comfortable place to play, and to build an audience that comes curious, listens carefully, and leaves satisfied.

But Allen is a far busier man than his carefree, joyous demeanor might suggest. He has been organizing the improvised music community since he arrived in Montréal from Guelph in 2005. The monthly series at Casa Del Popolo “Improvising Montréal” came under his control in 2006; and Mardi Spaghetti, a weekly series he curates along with three other improvisers at Cagibi, is going to celebrate its first anniversary in March.

On Saturday, January 17th, L’Envers opened its new year of programming with a celebration of Art’s Birthday. (It took a couple of weeks for the members of their mailing list to realize that they weren’t talking about a guy named Arthur, but rather celebrating the birth of Art, which Robert Filliou famously starting celebrating in 1963. Check this out.) CKUT was there with their live broadcasting gear. Six bands were slated to play. There was a birthday cake competition and West-Coast artist Glenn Lewis re-enacted the birth of Art.

I arrived just as Gordon took the stage with his trio Pink Saliva, with drummer Michel F Côté and bassist Alexandre St-Onge. Their layered, richly textured mix of acoustic improvisation and electronics sent a hush over the hundred or more gathered. Many took a seat on the floor and listened to the flow of expressive sounds, ranging from beautiful trumpet melody to the harsh but effective noise-electronics of Côté and St-Onge.

Even the loud students next to me stopped talking and I saw their facial expressions change to concentrated curiosity as they craned their necks to see how those three musicians were making such otherworldly sounds.

“When audiences are more attentive,” Gordon had told me earlier in the week, “the musicians have to scrutinize their own work more. Consequently we’re pushed harder to create, and the music advances. I’ve seen that here, and it’s an incredible thing to be a part of. Worth all the work we’ve put into it.”

Walking into L’Envers is like entering a scene from the ‘70s East Village. If Patti Smith were on the old couch in the corner talking to the motley assortment of Montréal improvisers, artists, gallerists and dancers typical of a L’Envers audience I wouldn’t bat an eye.

(Juste) Claudette (FIMAV)

Mathieu Bélanger, Panpot, May 18, 2008

(Juste) Claudette is Michel F Côté latest project. Its origins go back to an evening of February 2006 when Jesse Levine, Bernard Falaise, the aforementioned Alexandre St-Onge and Côté himself happen to be together in a studio and recorded some improvisations. This music would eventually become the group’s eponymous CD, released last fall on Ambiances Magnétiques.

Michel F Côté likes each of his projects to have a well-defined and distinct identity. A quick listen to the music of Mecha Fixes Clocks (with or without its ‘s’), Flat Fourgonnette or Pink Saliva – a yet-unrecorded trio with trumpeter Gordon Allen and bassist Alexandre St-Onge – should be enough to convince anyone of this claim. (Juste) Claudette is no exception to this fundamental preoccupation. Indeed, Claudette (for the intimates) is all about groove. Yes, groove as in looped patterns, but also as in tap your foot and bob your head.

(Juste) Claudette – let’s stick to the official name to dissipate any impression of promiscuity – performed its second ever concert as part of the 25th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. Actually, it is worth emphasizing that it took place on Sunday at midnight at the CEGEP de Victoriaville, one of the three venues used by the festival, as anyone who has visited the small Bois-Francs town would know.

While (Juste) Claudette dedicates itself to groove and rhythm, there was plenty to maintain interest and loads for the brain to chew on (then process). First, drummer Alexander MacSween was added to the line-up, thus turning (Juste) Claudette into a sextet as Côté had already recruited trumpeter Gordon Allen for the group’s live debut, back in October 2007. The addition of a second drummer allowed for some fascinating rhythmic events to occur. In one piece, Côté and MacSween played exactly the same beat, except that MacSween’s hi-hat notes were twice as fast as Côté’s. In others, MacSween would play a basic pattern while Côté would play between the beats in a looser manner or double the beat on his snare.

Second, (Juste) Claudette made it clear that rhythm and groove is not just a drums and bass thing. Sure, in some pieces, the drums and the bass would indeed start a rhythmic pattern and stick to it while the others instruments build upon it. However, in others, the basic rhythmic impetus would come from another instrument such as Falaise’s syncopated strumming.

As mentioned above, this concert took place on Sunday evening, thus near the end of the 2008 FIMAV. On the one hand, the somewhat festive and groovy aspects of (Juste) Claudette were a welcome relief at this point. Remember, this was the 20th concert festival-goers had witnessed in a three and a half day period, including some inevitably dry and less-successful ones.

On the other hand, in past years, the volume of the midnight concerts has often been a problem in that the loudness became an obstacle to a full appreciation of the music. Unfortunately, (Juste) Claudette was no exception. To put it bluntly, the volume was deafening. It makes no doubt that such a group can benefit from some amplification, but in this case, it actually had a negative impact. First, it simply was unbearable without earplugs. Second, some instruments simply did not sound well, the most obvious example being Côté’s carefully crafted toms which suddenly sounded like an amplified beam.

This said, on a strictly musical level, (Juste) Claudette definitely turned out to be one of the most enjoyable concert of the 25th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville.

(Juste) Claudette definitely turned out to be one of the most enjoyable concert of the 25th Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville.

Sonic Voyageurs

Alexander Varty, The Georgia Straight, October 20, 2005

Montréal is just a five-hour flight away, but the cultural capital of Francophone Canada can sometimes seem as remote as Antarctica. West Coast residents know the city as the home of relaxed liquor laws, good restaurants, and great delis, but we’re rarely exposed to the music that’s made there—and that’s almost entirely because most of it, whether pop, rock, or contemporary classical, is not sung in English.

North America’s largest French-speaking city is home to a thriving music industry and a club scene that we can only envy, but connecting with them seems difficult, thanks to the barrier of language. It’s ironic, then, that one of Montréal’s lesser-known contributions to the world of sound might end up being Vancouver’s entrée to Quebec’s musical life. Musique actuelle—a hybrid style that emerged in Montréal during the mid-1980s—is a largely instrumental form, so unilingual Vancouverites need not be scared off by incomprehensible texts. And although the idiom is so all-embracing that it’s hard to define, it’s animated by the kind of exploratory spirit that’s drives Vancouver groups like Talking Pictures and the Hard Rubber Orchestra. So it shouldn’t be that difficult for B.C. ears to appreciate Montréal’s sonic explorers, and we’ll get a chance to do just that this week, thanks to the Vancouver New Music Society’s Interférence: Statique X Statique festival.

Although the event, which runs at the Scotiabank Dance Centre until Saturday (October 22), features non-Francophone artists such as the U.K.’s Fred Frith and Janek Schaeffer, most of the performers hail from Quebec, and many of them, like Diane Labrosse, are 20-year veterans of the musique actuelle scene. Nonetheless, the otherwise charmingly articulate keyboardist still finds it difficult to explain what it is, exactly, that her chosen style includes—and that, it seems, is not only a linguistic issue.

“It’s a hard thing to do, describing a music that’s so broad,” Labrosse says, on the line from her Montréal home. “Of course at first there was progressive rock, and then improv came along, and then came the idea of putting together different styles of music. Some musicians began to draw on the roots of jazz, and also using more traditional or folkloric stuff, and then putting all of this together to make a new hybrid of music, which we called musique actuelle. We even find these different direct references within the same piece.”

The style’s name, like the music itself, contains a wealth of inferences and possibilities. Its sounds are “actuelle” because they’re real music made by real musicians, as opposed to machine-made, bottom-line-driven pop, but also because they reflect the kaleidoscopic reality of today’s media environment. The argument Labrosse makes is that few people confine their listening to just one genre, so why should musicians suffer self- imposed limitations on what they play?

Her own career reflects this wide-open attitude. She’s written scores for dance, penned twisted avant-pop tunes, worked extensively with sample-based music, and performed with a global array of free improvisers. And in her Thursday-night concert at the Dance Centre, she’ll move a step or two toward abstract sound, in the company of multimedia artist Jean-Pierre Gauthier.

“Jean-Pierre is more known in the visual arts,” Labrosse notes. “He started out as a sculptor, a visual artist, and then he started to make some sound sculptures. This is where we got involved together quite a few years ago, maybe in 1998 or 2000 or whatever. We did a project where he was working with rubber tubes and compressors and bird whistles, things of that nature, so it was a noisy kind of culture. That started him doing shows, or doing performances; before that he was more of a sound installer, working in galleries and things like that. But he’s always done very fine work, juxtaposing visual and audio stuff.”

Labrosse reveals that she doesn’t yet know what Gauthier will be bringing to their Interférence show. “He told me that it’s very small, and that it’s something that he’s made, and that it varies from one performance to another.”

With that in mind, she’s readying herself for a performance that will be improvised from start to finish, as will several of the other bookings that Vancouver New Music artistic director Giorgio Magnanensi has arranged for his festival. Following Labrosse on Thursday will be the cross-country quartet of Pierre Tanguay, Bernard Falaise, Dylan van der Schyff, and Ron Samworth, a group she describes as well worth hearing.

“It’s a double-duo sort of thing: two drummers that work in a similar fashion, and two guitarists that also work in a similar fashion,” she explains. “But everybody’s very different and has a real personality. I saw this band in Montréal, and it was quite a nice concert.”

Friday night (October 21) features performances by sound artist Magali Babin and saxophonist Joane Hétu, followed by Klaxon Gueule, a trio that includes guitarist Falaise, percussionist Michel F Côté, and pianist Alexandre St-Onge. Like Labrosse’s collaboration with Gauthier, both of these ensembles patrol the grey area between sound sculpture and more conventional forms of improvisation, a zone that increasingly draws practitioners of musique actuelle.

“You start with finding new sounds on your guitar or your bass or your drums,” Labrosse notes. “And you move from there to adding effects, and then to [computer-based] processing, or even to building your own instruments.”

Fittingly, then, Interférence’s musique actuelle survey will conclude on Saturday with Morceaux_de_Machines, an abrasive and intense collaboration between sound designers Aimé Dontigny and Érick d’Orion that has earned comparisons to noise innovators Einstürzende Neubauten and Otomo Yoshihide.

It seems that the Montréal-born idiom known as musique actuelle really is capable of embracing almost everything from the minimalist gestures of Babin and Hétu to the ear-scorching aural firestorms of Dontigny and d’Orion. Close observers of the Vancouver scene will note that our own creative musicians are capable of a very similar range of styles; perhaps the gulf between East and West, between Francophone and Anglophone, is narrowing at last.

… the Montréal-born idiom known as musique actuelle really is capable of embracing almost everything from the minimalist gestures of Babin and Hétu to the ear-scorching aural firestorms of Dontigny and d’Orion.

Critique

Manu Holterbach, Revue & Corrigée, no. 52, June 1, 2002

Se plonger dans la musique d’Alexandre St-Onge, c’est un peu comme faire l’expérience de l’ombre. Son univers sonore semble dessiner en obscurité les contours du réel le plus ordinaire, d’une part le magnifiant, et d’autre part le faisant glisser dans une belle confusion. Car cette ombre, dont on ne sait exactement l’origine, trouble, déconcerte. Un peu comme si on pouvait rencontrer une ombre détachée de toute origine, une ombre en soi. Imaginons alors que nous pourrions nous y asseoir, nous y fondre: un petit ilot dans lequel le monde se projetterait par l’obscur. Tout y viendrait troublé, étouffé, atténué. Nous pourrions encore y voir (y entendre), mais tout serait étrangement voile et distant. Voilà ce qui se passe dans la musique d’Alexandre St-Onge, qui contrairement au paradième temporel occidental de la composition, ne contient aucun mouvement narratif quelconque, positionnant le present de l’écoute dans un point tangenciel entre passé et avenir. Raison sans doute de notre culture d’écoute impatiente et superficielle, gavée d’attentes qui exigent d’être résolues. Chez Alexandre St-Onge, il s’avère que la musique est suspendue dans un présent immobile. Pas d’avenir, pas d’avant. Tout est immédiatement là, avec cette perception particuliere que l’on a dans ]es moments de stases, ces instants bouche bée où l’on n’attend plus rien. Peut-être estce dans un instant comme celui-la qu’Alexandre St-Onge a décidé de mettre un micro dans sa bouche pour y filtrer l’insaisissable “reel” quotidien, et de l’y faire résonner en frottements avec les mouvements métaboliques. Corps résonnants de la bouche, qui devient aussi oreille, captant les echos des bruits du monde dans les cavités du crâne. Ce qui tend à révéler l’absurdité de ce que nous nommons le récl: ce n’est jamais que l’ombre de la réalité dont nous parlons. De cette facon qu’a le monde de projeter son contour au travers de nos conduits, de nos muqueuses. Rumeurs sereines, et parfois inquiètes d’un univers déboussolé, allegé de toute cardinalité. Ecouter la musique d’Alexandre St-Onge, c’est un peu s’immiscer dans un point d’une extrême etroitesse, mais qui, du fait de son étroitesse même, permettrait de capter avec une infinie acuité l’etrangeté du monde, sa sonore altérité, sans esperer y trouver quelque chose, simplement en partageant ce quelque chose. Profonde expérience de l’immanence, pour qui acceptera ce jeu secret et bouleversant. Kasi Nago est un hommage à Tystnaden (Le silence) d’Ingmar Bergman, on y trouve aussi un hommage parallèle au silence de 4’33" de Cage.

Sur le même label, Alexandre St-Onge a édité le son d’une performance de Vito Acconci, on comprend pourquoi a l’écoute: deux univers se téléscopent. UNDO (Alexandre St-Onge et Christof Migone) y vont de leur “remix”, excellent disque aussi. Saluons à propos de ces deux disques, le soin particulier porté a la pochette, ce qui en fait des objets particulièrement attrayants. Merci.

… l’expérience de l’ombre.…

Blog

By continuing browsing our site, you agree to the use of cookies, which allow audience analytics.