Atlas Epileptic is a multimedia experience; it comes with two discs, one of audio and one containing abstract videos (“visual poetry”, as Québécois performance artist Pierre-André Arcand refers to it) preceded by their cryptic, rather clumsily animated titles: Dividing by zero is good; Le Muezzin de Mayabunder (“The Prayer Crier of Mayabunder”); Nature Morte. Like the audio, Arcand’s videos are more atmospheric than articulate, but he conveys a wide tonal range. You can make what you will of the multiple neon-blue-hued television screens in Moultécrans, the expanding and contracting circle of daylight in Framexhibition (paired, interestingly enough, with a track that sounds like a railroad-crossing bell) or the kaleidoscopic close-ups of water glasses and (I think) dildos in L’érotique du désert. The audio disc contains several of the tracks from the video; it doesn’t engage multiple senses, so it’s not as engaging; on the other hand, it’s not as seizure-inducing, either. Paradoxal opens the audio disc with spare, echoing slaps of world percussion as a hoary male voice-Arcand? — speaks, in French, of the “boucle”. The vocal, like the instrumental, is sliced, diced and set to repeat with variations. The album’s first half seems dedicated to more percussive sounds, while the latter part is more “melodic”— not that there are any melodies, per se, but the last few tracks boast undulating synths (ww.org) and something accordionlike (Portuaire).
Atlas Epileptic’s liner notes include a quote from cyberpunk novelist William Gibson: “It looped back into itself and constantly mutated.” It’s easy to see why Arcand chose that particular line: slowly-metamorphosing loops are a stated theme of his work. Like Gibson’s books, Arcand’s work is arcane and occasionally incomprehensible, but obscurely intriguing.