Imagine two painters working on the same canvas: two visions and two different palettes result in a finished work, with no communication in preparation or during the process. It’s hard to picture a movement built around collaborative improv for visual arts, but what would be the point? The beauty in a painting is the finished work, whereas listening to music as it’s conceived and put to tape can be incomparably more satisfying. Obviously, jazz is a prime example, but experimental/noise music, with its rule-breaking, anything-goes uniqueness, holds extra appeal for many.
Aimé Dontigny and Diane Labrosse are unlikely collaborators given their histories. Dontigny is known for his underground solo work, as well as his releases with free-noise collective Napalm Jazz and electronic duo morceaux_de_machines. Labrosse is possibly more on the establishment tip, having landed commissioned work ranging from theatre, dance and cinema to more recent events sponsored by various Canadian arts councils. Musical background be damned; Dontigny and Labrosse — both improv enthusiasts — gel wonderfully on this rare meeting, recorded live on April 20, 2002.
From the onset of Télépathie’s four tracks, the mood is darkly cinematic and unsettling, with Dontigny and Labrosse delivering succulent sounds plucked and chosen with inventive reasoning — but don’t even bother trying to tell who’s doing what. The underwater experience of t.s.f. is encapsulated in suffocating classical strings, pitched down in shark tank acoustics with the morass of industrial noise and oxygen bubble escapement filling the vacuum. Despite the piece’s near-beatlessness, the duo gets off to an aggressive start, assaulting you with enough sonic imagery that you’ll fear drowning. By the time the droning strains of antenne parabolique introduce themselves, Télépathie has established itself; you will travel down this weightless track — which features a company of wailing, chain-rattling digital banshees and the chatter of hungry android rats building to crescendo - with morbid curiosity and anticipation. photo satellite brings more drones - the first half slathered with a racket wrought of static, and puking turntables (Merzbow would be proud), the second half built around low frequencies, harsh buzzes and percussive noise pinging off the walls like a superball. média tactique holds the disc’s closest moment to rhythmic intent, with crunchy, chopped up beats that sound like all of Autechre’s gear short-circuiting at once. It’s a fitting album closer, offering a peek at a more conventional - and thus more commercial - direction that the duo could follow if they tried.
It would be nice if Dontigny and Labrosse formed a recurring project, but there’s no suggestion that this will happen. Likely, this collaboration is one of a kind - a shame, in a way. One thing is certain: as a duo, they have an intuitive connection that enhances the bone-chilling tunes they’ve recorded for Télépathie.