The New & Avant-garde Music Store



Simon Cummings, 5:4, March 5, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Press

One of the more memorable events at last year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival was the late night concert at Bates Mill given by Quatuor Bozzini, featuring music by Éliane Radigue and Phill Niblock. A few weeks ago, the Bozzinis released an album featuring two works by Niblock, including the one they played in Huddersfield, Disseminate as Five String Quartets. i have to admit that i was sceptical about the extent to which the experience could be adequately captured in a recording. Niblock’s endless waves of juddering pitch had made Bates Mill seem not simply filled but saturated, one minute feeling as though we were submerged in water, the next suffused with dazzling light. Either way, it was a veritable flood.

This recording goes a long way to living up to that mesmeric live encounter. Both works, in fact, inhabit this same soundworld, both starting life as orchestral pieces that Niblock reworked for a live string quartet plus four additional prerecorded quartets. Disseminate as Five String Quartets sets out with only the implication of stability, harmonically complex from the outset with something that may or may not be dronal at its core. This develops into a conflict where apparent stasis (the piece, after all, is built upon slow moving, drawn-out pitches) is continually undermined by strange undulations and shifts in its tonal makeup. Often, one becomes aware of something only after it’s actually been present for some time, and it’s similarly difficult to track the evolution of the work’s harmony, which from around halfway through has become seriously smeared, still dronal but tonally clusterfucked.

By contrast, Baobab begins in the utter clarity of octave unisons, which gradually shift out of alignment, allowing other notes (at first, only fifths) to encroach. Due to the proximity of the near-unisons in the first third of the piece, the combined texture resembles a vast squadron of planes, or perhaps the aural sensation of sitting at the dead centre of a hive of bees. Alien pitches in this context seem all the more jarring, threads out of alignment in an otherwise perfect weave, leading to a lengthy central episode where the opening octaves could hardly seem more distant. All the same, Baobab doesn’t explore the same range of harmonic complexity as Disseminate, instead playing more actively with how stable the music seems, on one occasion dropping out the lower register notes to give a brief illusion of balance.

With both pieces it’s more than usually the case that how one perceives them is going to be entirely unique. This is not merely due to individual perception, but the way and the specific locations (harmonic locations, i mean) where one focuses attention, which can be radically shifted by the slightest turn or tilt of the head, drastically altering the apparent pitch-content and pitch-emphasis of the music. It’s perhaps never been more true that multiple listens to the same recording result in completely different experiences.

The Bozzinis excel at this kind of intricate, infinite music — what we might call ‘upper case’ ambient — and it’s no hyperbole to say this recording really is almost as good as having them there in the room with you. Apropos: i’d recommend not listening to this album through headphones, which for me had the effect of making the textures sound reduced and diminished, even somewhat deadened. To get the desired effect, be sure to play through speakers — loud! — and thereby be overwhelmed by Niblock’s endless, extraordinary flood.

The Bozzinis excel at this kind of intricate, infinite music…


Avant Scena, March 4, 2019
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Press

Sudoku pour Pygmées is released by Ambiances Magnetiques. All compositions of this album were composed by Canadian composer Jean Derome. This composer is famous, evocative and innovative musician of contemporary academical music scene. Innovative ideas, modern decisions, bright and tremendous contrasts, universal arsenal of playing techniques, expressions, styles and moods — all these elements make the main basic of his music. Jean Derome delicately and organically combines together academic avant-garde, experimental and contemporary academical music, free improvisations, polyphony, the main principes of classical music, modernism, minimalism and other music genres. His music always has especially wide and rich musical language — it’s emotional, vital, expressive and dynamic. Polyphony meets homophony, consonances are used all together with dissonances, dodecaphony, serialism, concrete, spectral, sonoristic music, minimalism, puantilism and the innovations of academic avant-garde. Composer manages to create a fusion of different styles — he connects avant-garde jazz and contemporary academical music, who is totally different from each other. All music of the akbum was recorded by ensemble Les Dangereux Zhoms+9.

Sudoku pour Pygmées is filled with contrasts, sudden turns, gorgeous virages and dynamic changes. The compositions are based on synthetic form — sometimes it’s open, sometimes strict and firm, based on all the main forms of classical music. Free improvisation is the key of all compositions. Even though the musicians don’t improvising all the time, their music is full of flowing melodies, spontaneous solos, stunning riffs and fascinating sound experiments. All musicians of ensemble are balancing between totally free and wild improvisation and the innovative, modern and evocative contemporary academical music. Composer shows his wide musical knownledge — he’s fusing together absolutely uncompairable pieces of sifferent styles. Rich musical pattern is based on the main rules of contemporary academical music and free improvisation, but also has many allusions to other music styles. The excerpts of famous dances, humorous, parhetic, gentle, light pieces, minimalistic samples, heavy hard core of rock styles, the sounds of electronics and computer devices, strict polyphony of baroque, the classical forms and citations of classicism — these elements bring evocative and inspiring sound. The music is especially moving and thrilling — it’s related to impressionism, post-impressionism, expressionism and modernism in many episodes. Jean Derome gives the opportunity to all the musicians to express themselfs without any effort. Each musician can get on sleepy or dreamy lullabies, subtle research of strange timbres, simple and minimalistic facture or jump on trendy, stunning, modern, evocative culminations or wild free improvisations. The huge variety of styles, expressions, tunes, pieces, moods and other elements finally makes a marvelous result. The music is inspiring, dynamic and driving. All musicians are brilliant — they are trying to recover and demonstrate original and exceptional sound and the main conception of the compositions. Vital and charming saxophones, expressive and turbulent piano, heavy and hard electric guitar, sharp and dramatic violin wild and growling trumpet and soft flute make the base of melodic line. Roaring blow outs, stunning culminations, terrific riffs, passionate solos, dizzy passages, humorous, glimpsy, driving, tremendous, trendy and impressive free improvisations are filled with gorgeous timbres, colorful tunes, strange noises and enchanting ornaments. Static and dark tuba, deep bass clarinet, dynamic percussion and variable drums section contain the colorful background and modern rhythmic section. All types of rhythms are used here — independent melodies are fused with enhanting passages, fabulous excerpts, gorgeous ornaments, rare combos, exotic tunes, nervous, scandalous and aggressive modern jazz, wild and thrilling free improvisations, spontaneous solos and various series of classical and contemporary academical music. The music is played impressively — musicians have a brilliant playing techniques, masterful virtuosity, the best quality of sound and driving style. The instrumentation is wide and universal — traditions, experiments, innovations, rare. exotic, awakening tunes are used together with shocking ways of playing. The musicians never make the chaos out of the compositions. Each of them is improvising wildly and expressively, but also has its own structure, who keep the form and mood of the album. Driving, dynamic, aggressive, splendid, gorgeous, tremendous, jolly, furious, dramatic, childish, naive, solemn, subtle, peaceful or scandalous — all kinds of moods are expressed here. The musicians create a marvelous set of original compositions, who are based on experimental musical decisions and fresh ideas.

The huge variety of styles, expressions, tunes, pieces, moods and other elements finally makes a marvelous result.

«Musique actuelle — Topographie d’un genre»: une musique distincte pour une société distincte

Philippe Renaud, Le Devoir, March 11, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019 Press

Dans son nouvel ouvrage, Réjean Beaucage, journaliste, critique et directeur général du festival Akousma, tente de cerner, à travers trois événements marquants, la plus singulière contribution québécoise au monde musical contemporain: la musique actuelle. «Il fut un temps où chaque fois qu’on parlait de musique actuelle, les gens disaient: “C’est quoi ça, au juste?” La fameuse définition… C’était presque devenu une blague: qu’est-ce que c’est que la musique actuelle? Ce livre, c’est la réponse en deux cents pages.»

«Je me sens un peu comme un commissaire qui déniche des affaires pour ensuite les montrer aux gens», explique l’auteur, qui a consacré l’essentiel de sa carrière à observer et à analyser le vaste univers des musiques de création «anti-commerciales», pour reprendre la boutade du guitariste René Lussier, cité dans ce passionnant livre paru aux éditions Varia.

Un devoir de mémoire qui a le mérite d’être accessible et pédagogique: en dévorant le livre, on comprend mieux cette étrange créature qu’est la musique actuelle, on apprend surtout comment cette scène musicale a pris racine chez nous, à partir de trois festivals fondateurs.

«Moi, ce que je dis [dans le livre], c’est que la musique actuelle vient du Québec, à partir de 1961». Août 1961, pour être précis. Le compositeur et chef d’orchestre Pierre Mercure organisait la Semaine internationale de la musique actuelle. Cette musique était alors nommée, dans toute son indescriptible diversité, alors que musiques de concert et musiques improvisées étaient mises en scène, en plus de performances de danse, de film expérimental…

Les œuvres de John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xénakis, György Ligeti, Serge Garant ou encore Edgar Varèse étaient au programme (certaines en création), Yoko Ono était aussi invitée à cette fête des musiques étranges.

«L’emblème» de la musique actuelle, selon Beaucage, est Structures métalliques II, composition de Pierre Mercure interprétée sur scène par Armand Vaillancourt le 6 août 1961 au Monument-National. Une improvisation dirigée durant laquelle le sculpteur frappait sur des structures de métal préparées par lui. «Que l’on présente un sculpteur comme soliste, […] c’était un geste pour le moins provocateur», écrit l’auteur, soulignant ici la rupture entre les musiques institutionnalisées et la musique de création spontanée.

Les deux autres jalons de la musique actuelle racontés par Beaucage sont d’abord la naissance du Festival international de musique actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) en décembre 1983 — l’événement célébrera son 35e anniversaire, du 16 au 19 mai — ainsi que l’unique édition montréalaise du festival itinérant New Music America, rebaptisé chez nous Montréal Musiques Actuelles, en 1990. Son programme riche et éclectique mettait en vedette le Kronos Quartet, Les Granules (Derome et Lussier, qui enregistraient sur l’étiquette Ambiances Magnétiques, le socle sur lequel s’est érigée la musique actuelle au Québec), une œuvre de La Monte Young, une performance du groupe industriel Einstürzende Neubauten (chorégraphiée par La La La Human Steps!) et The Residents.

Le souvenir de ces événements, et particulièrement de la semaine de Pierre Mercure, «ne doit pas disparaître», insiste Beaucage, qui parle de l’événement de 1961 comme le big bang de la musique actuelle, au Québec comme ailleurs. «Je cite [le compositeur et saxophoniste] Jean Derome qui dit: “Cette musique-là se fait ailleurs, sous un autre nom, mais chez nous, au Québec, on a développé quelque chose»”. Ailleurs dans le livre, Beaucage cite l’ouvrage Plunderphonics, Pataphysics Pop Mechanics de l’auteur Andrew Jones: «Le Québec constitue une étude de cas illustrant comment un petit réseau de musiciens, promoteurs, critiques et fans dévoués peut favoriser la croissance d’un nouveau genre musical; une musique distincte pour une société distincte».

Beaucage fait aussi un lien entre le travail de ces musiciens de l’avant-garde, ces as improvisateurs, et «un retour au folklore [québécois], notamment avec Lussier et son tapage de pied. Je ne voudrais pas être chauvin et dire que la musique actuelle ne se fait qu’ici et pas ailleurs, mais ce qui est sûr, c’est qu’avec le FIMAV, ça a consolidé [les efforts de la scène]. Et tout arrive en même temps, le festival à Victoriaville, la création d’Ambiances Magnétiques, en plus d’une certaine émancipation des musiciennes» telles que la compositrice et saxophoniste Joane Hétu.

Réjean Beaucage définit ainsi cette musique actuelle à travers les festivals parce que «c’est dans un festival que se rencontrent toutes les influences musicales. À la première édition du FIMAV, il y avait l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, suivi d’une performance d’un percussionniste brésilien, puis Margie Gillis qui offrait une performance solo. Toutes sortes d’affaires étranges mises ensemble, certaines plus grand public, comme l’OSM, et d’autres complètement bizarres. C’est ça, la musique actuelle, d’un bout à l’autre du spectre musical, mais ensemble».

Le Québec constitue une étude de cas illustrant comment un petit réseau de musiciens, promoteurs, critiques et fans dévoués peut favoriser la croissance d’un nouveau genre musical; une musique distincte pour une société distincte.


Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 24:6, March 1, 2019
Thursday, March 7, 2019 Press

… he’s crafty enough to compose pieces that harmonize with the French composer’s ideas.


Stuart Broomer, The WholeNote, no. 24:6, March 1, 2019
Thursday, March 7, 2019 Press

The work’s special character is apparent from the beginning…

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