The New & Avant-garde Music Store

Review

Dolf Mulder, Vital, no. 539, August 16, 2006

Of course you often use the ‘&’ sign, but it’s less known that it means ‘Et’ from Mediaeval times, and means of course ‘and’. &Records is a label from Montréal, and in all five of the current releases you can find musicians from Montréal, and the broadest description would be to say that they all play improvised music, each in their own specific way. Not that every release is fresh, and let us once again state: Vital Weekly doesn’t like reviewing three years old releases, and good idiots as we are, we still do that. There is/will be a time, when we will ignore them.

The release by Bob is the oldest, from 2003. Bob is Éric Bernier (voice, computer, machines), Michel F Côté (computer, machines, rare back vocals), Guy Trifiro (computer, machines) who are helped by Jean Derome (baritone saxophone, bass flute, piccolo), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Normand Guilbeault (contrabass) and Alexandre St-Onge (electronics). Like we will see on some of the other releases, the voice plays an important role for Bob, but inside Bob it is the most clear example of voices that originally come from popmusic, or rather postpunk music. Also the music hints in that direction. Very ‘London’ like post punk music, with rhythms, bass, guitar and of course singing by various voices. But then, except the singing, all played on a bunch of modern day machines. It’s quite nice, well produced, certainly sounding outdated, but it’s a great release. Very pop with a great touch of experimentalism.

Martin Tétreault is of course a well-known turntablist, who not just spins records but also the turntable itself. From three solo concerts he made recordings and gave them to one Bernard Falaise, who in turn selected 33 short fragments between 5 and 40 seconds, 11 per concert. These were then used in the eleven, three minute pieces on Des Gestes Défaits. Conceptually alright, but I must say it also works out musically quite well. It’s a highly intelligent composition of turntable sounds, that is rhythmic, at times noisy and at times introspective. A powerful release of cracking analogue sounds colliding in a digital world called the computer.

Although the name Michel F Côté rings a familiar bell somewhere, I am not sure if I heard some of his music before. He is one of the two directors of the &Records label. 63 Apparitions was written for a choreography and Côté plays electronics, computer, percussion, piano and voice and gets help from Diane Labrosse (voice), Christof Migone and Martin Tétreault (both on objects) and uses music from John Cage (his ‘Érik Satie’ piece) and Érik Satie (the ballet Socrate). It’s hard to say what the choreography is about (if I would understand choreography at all, really), but the music is very nice: it sounds like a bunch of clockworks going down, hectic percussive sounds, banging on all sorts of small objects and speed up sounds of mechanical toy music. At times highly vibrant and jumpy, but here to the softer parts are equally nice.

Klaxon Gueule is a trio of Michel F Côté (percussion, electronics, voice), Bernard Falaise (guitars, piano), Alexandre St-Onge (bass, electronica, voice). The voices seem important but they hardly sound like real voices: they are heavily processed or may be the singers are highly possessed and make their own transformations in sound. The music is a combination of improvised music bumping up to the ideas of musique concrete. At times acoustical, at times electrical, and at times a bit boring. Not every second on this CD could interest me, and it stayed too much on the same level, with grabbing the listener very much. Occasionally also a bit too regular in terms of improvisation for me. Having said that, there are also quite captivating moments here, so I’m left with rather mixed feelings.

The latest release is by Foodsoon, a trio of Bernard Falaise (guitar, bass, keyboards), Alexander MacSween (drums, piano, keyboards, vocals) and Fabrizio Gilardino (prepared tapes, electronics, vocals). This is by far the most rocking release of the lot. Foodsoon is a rocking trio that use the method of heavy rock drumming, in combination with a love of improvising sounds on their guitars and keyboards. It makes Foodsoon standing in a long tradition, from anywhere from The Beatles to Sonic Youth to any current day post rock band, but they do a nice job, and one that is not entirely on the well-went paths of other groups. It seems that sometimes the sense of experiment prevails, but then it might as easily burst out into another furious banged rhythm. Perhaps at those times it’s a bit too rock for me, but throughout I thought this is most enjoyable disc.

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