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Collection somnambule Maxime de la Rochefoucauld

Top 10 musique actuelle, 2002 (Voir, Québec)

  • Pout Pout
  • MX 02 / 2002
  • Durée totale: 58:44

Hors catalogue

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Collection somnambule

Maxime de la Rochefoucauld

  • CD
    MX 02
    Hors-catalogue

La presse en parle

  • Ben Borthwick, The Wire, no 219, 1 mai 2002
    … each improvisation contains challenging musical structures subjected to high levels of contingency.
  • François Tousignant, Le Devoir, 6 avril 2002
    … voilà une musique qui se démarque de toute tendance; voilà l’œuvre d’une oreille aussi originale qu’indépendante, curieuse et sensible, inquisitrice et découvreuse.
  • Réjean Beaucage, Voir, 14 février 2002
    … un des projets les plus originaux qui soient.
  • Rupert Bottenberg, Montreal Mirror, 14 février 2002
    … grandiose…
  • Dave Mandl, The Wire, no 216, 1 février 2002
    … an army of tiny robot-instruments rigged up in an impossibly complex tangle of wires, stands, beaters and primitive mechanical arms.

Soundcheck

Ben Borthwick, The Wire, no 219, 1 mai 2002

Montréal based Maxime De La Rochefoucauld is a sound sculptor who creates small automata from bottles, boxes, lamps and all kinds of everyday objects combined with springs and sticks, cymbals, bells, cans, drums and other pieces of percussion. Assembling them into an automaton orchestra, he assumes the role of conductor by controlling the frequency output which activates the sculptures. For the full visual spectacle of his extraordinary objects, check his website at homepage.mac/automateski.

However, the nine improvisations of Collection Somnambule (music for sleepwalkers) prove his automata also go the distance, musicaliy speaking. Lasting between five and eight minutes, each improvisation contains challenging musical structures subjected to high levels of contingency. Not only do they look like Surrealist objects, the unpredictability of the electrical impulses that make them twitch also bears out the analogies the Surrealists used to make between automata, trance-like rituals and the workings of the unconscious.

De La Rochefoucauld augments his largely percussive automata with a violin sculpture and “real” instruments such as clavier, trumpet and accordion. Each track sounds like a different kind of world music with unfixed map references. Though they’re naggingly familiar you just can’t place their source. The dissonance of La boîte somnambule suggests a gamelan warming up in a Chinese court, while the loose knit drums and screeching horn of La chaleur somnambule recall Joujoukan drumming. But instead of suddenly launching into a frenzied rhythm, the latter holds to the downtempo of a 70s West Coast jazz combo. On the most mechanical piece, La vache somnambule, the beat speeds up and slows down in time with a robotic grunt, while a mouth harp sounds like an automaton straining for language.

… each improvisation contains challenging musical structures subjected to high levels of contingency.

Vitrine du disque

François Tousignant, Le Devoir, 6 avril 2002

Cela semble bref et lapidaire. Ce l’est, et tout à fait conforme à l’image du disque. Sans présentation ostentatoire ni prétention Maxime de la Rochefoucauld revient de New York avec son dernier disque. Pour la chronique, il habitait le studio d’artiste du Québec cet automne. Oui, il a vu les avions emboutir les tours; oui, il les a vues s’effondrer. En fait, l’expérience s’est avérée tellement apeurante pour lui (le studio est tout près de Ground Zero) qu’il semble incapable de tout décrire.

Peu importe: voici la musique, servie avec cet avertissement du compositeur créateur: «Cette musique est jouée par des automates: sculptures musicales acoustiques animées par des fréquences inaudibles. Leurs polyrythmies organiques particulières sont orchestrées de façon à obtenir une musique de type rituel et de transe.» Nous voilà préparés, presque prêts pour l’aventure.

Car il faut décrire un peu l’instrumentarium imaginé par ce curieux artiste. Toutes sortes de trucs, bidules et machins, hétéroclites et aussi originaux que communs, se voient mis en mouvement ou frappés par les vibrations de haut-parleurs qui demeurent dans le spectre de l’infrason. Donc, ce qui devrait «faire sonner» la musique devient l’instrument producteur sonore, générateur de mouvements qui, eux, en curieux et intrigant re virement technologique de sens, font résonner les objets baroques de la fertile imagination de Maxime de la Rochefoucauld.

En spectacle, c’est assez étonnant, visuellement comme acoustiquement. C’est comme une sorte de galerie sonore où l’on se promène au gré des directions auxquelles nous invitent les sons qui, dans l’espace, forcent à fabriquer un itinéraire. Au disque, on pourrait croire perdre quelque chose. Nenni. C’est absolument épatant! D’une esthétique toute autre, c’est un peu comme si on écoutait L’Or du Rhin, de Wagner, à partir d’un son initial qui s’échafauderait en accumulation intrigante.

A mille lieues de tout ce qui retient de la convention, qu’elle soit de type SMCQ, NEM, actualiste, acousmatique ou électroacousticienne, voilà une musique — et un compositeur — qui se démarque de toute tendance; voilà l’œuvre (notez bien: l’œuvre, pas le travail ou la recherche!) d’une oreille aussi originale qu’indépendante, curieuse et sensible, inquisitrice et découvreuse.

Bien sûr, parmi les temps forts du disque s’éparpillent les instants plus bonbon. Surtout quand l’influence orientale se fait plus prégnante (oui, Maxime de la Rochefoucauld tombe sous le coup de la séduction est-asiatique; par contre, ce qui fait éculé chez d’autres redevient tout à coup, chez lui, naïvement enfantin, comme si ses oreilles se transformaient en yeux d’enfant tout ébahi devant la splendeur d’un arbre de Noël bien décoré).

… voilà une musique qui se démarque de toute tendance; voilà l’œuvre d’une oreille aussi originale qu’indépendante, curieuse et sensible, inquisitrice et découvreuse.

Critique

Réjean Beaucage, Voir, 14 février 2002

Deuxième disque pour Maxime de la Rochefoucauld (alias Maxime Rioux) et sa tribu d’automates. On y retrouve avec beaucoup de plaisir l’univers sonore vaguement préhistorique que fabriquent les étranges créatures membraneuses imaginées par le compositeur. Les sons percussifs produits par tout un attirail de cymbales, peaux, morceaux de bois ou de verre tapissent une rythmique de transe sur laquelle MdlR ajoute trompette, sax, cordes ou claviers atmosphériques. Les automates commandés par les mouvements erratiques de haut-parleurs diffusant d’inaudibles basses fréquences donnent en effet l’illusion d’être un orchestre de somnambules naviguant entre les brumes du rêve. MdlR est aux commandes d’un des projets les plus originaux qui soient. La magnifique pochette du disque est conçue comme un carton d’allumettes. Pour mettre le feu à vos rêves. 4/5

… un des projets les plus originaux qui soient.

Disc of the Week

Rupert Bottenberg, Montreal Mirror, 14 février 2002

Maxime’s “band,” les Automates Ki, is in fact a horde of primitive, handmade little noise-bots, trashcan percussion devices controlled by sub-bass pulses (supplemented by some “real” instruments here and there). His deft command has them dancing delicately on the edge of chaos, clickety-clacking up a racket of rare beauty. The setting slides from micro to macro—one moment, the listener is a circus flea and the whole world is a watchmaker’s workbench; the next sees sprawling palaces materialize out of mountain mists. Excuse the grandiose similes, but that’s how effective this stuff is. Now that mech-master Max is back from a stay in NYC, maybe he’ll do a show for us, because his creations and the glorious din they generate really have to be experienced in person. 9/10

… grandiose…

Junkyard Angel

Dave Mandl, The Wire, no 216, 1 février 2002

“My music is not so much polyrhythmic as polygravitational,“ says Canadian composer Maxime Rioux, aka Maxime De La Rochefoucauld, of his mechanical orchestra of self-built ‘automates,’ whose interlocking actions accumulate into ritualistic, trancelike rhythms described by their creator as “creating chaos with an order.” When I reach Rioux’s apartment for our interview, he tells me he only woke up five minutes earlier, but already his attention is transfixed by the tiny gadget he’s fiddling with. It turns out that it’s a component scavenged from the inside of an of fice thermostat - a Honeywell thermostat, to be exact. “A friend just gave this to me; they’re very hard to find,” he enthuses, like someone who’s just stumbled onto a Shakespeare Folio. To the uninitiated it looks just like a thin spring with a mercury-filled glass bubble attached to one end. After ten minutes of explanation, during which Rioux repeatedly rocks the mercury back and forth inside the bubble to demonstrate something or other, I’m no closer to understanding exactly how this device will bring a technological quantum leap in his music. But given the importance of such electronic minutiae to his work, I’m prepared to believe him.

New Yorkers got a rare firsthand glimpse at the fruits of Rioux’s obsession during the Montréal based composer’s recent residency there, when he put on a series of performances of his ongoing project, Automates Ki, at various venues in the city. The ‘Automates’ (French for automatons) are an army of tiny robot-instruments rigged up in an impossibly complex tangle of wires, stands, beaters and primitive mechanical arms. Going out as Maxime De La Rochefoucauld, Rioux drives this array of soundmakers using simple, ultra low frequency (that is to say, inaudible) waves generated by an analogue synthesizer. Numbering about 40 for a full performance, the automatons consist mostly of drums, cymbals, and shakers of various sizes, as well as several toy mandolins and banjos. Excluding the occasional store-bought instruments, they’re constructed from the booty of one hundred yard sales: an assortment of bottles, thread spools, corks and bits of metal. Triggering them is a maze of weights, spindles, vibrating speakercones, makeshift driveshafts, and even used computer disks. Where the mercury-filled bubble will eventually fit in is impossible to say.

Yet it’s all beautiful to behold, and clearly there’s a degree of theatre involved in generating what he calls “an illusion of rhythm.” Not surprising, as Rioux’s background is in visual art (he has a degree in sculpture.) At iive performances, audience members crane their necks feverishly, trying to trace sounds to their sources and figure out what makes each automaton tick before it stops, another one somewhere else picks up the beat, and necks crane in a different direction. The modularity and mutability of his set-up - which is put together by hand for each gig, a process that can take more than a day - allows him to place the automatons in a nearly infinite variety of arrangements. For example, during his New York residency, there was a traditional audience/stage setup at the jazz loft Roulette, while at the sound art gallery Diapason the automatons were scattered in an almost random pattern around the exhibition space, in front of and behind audience members and even, in a bit of extra credit mischievousness, above door frames.

Unlike much process-oriented music, the Automates actually work well on record (and Rioux even provides photographs of some automatons as a helpful visual aid). The debut CD, Automates Ki(Plastique, 1997), has somewhat recklessly been compared to electric Miles Davis; other reference points include Pierre Bastien, the French composer and builder of similarly bizarre hybrid instruments; and radical dub: think early African Head Charge. In spite of the tremendous sonic range of the automatons, the beats seem perpetually rootless, as if some important foundation instrument has been cut out of the mix, which of course isn’t the case at all. Rioux/Rochefoucauld’s first release also included live playing on heavily reverberated trumpets and keyboards, lending the tunes a nomadic, Middle Eastern quality. In contrast, the recently released Collection Somnambule (Music For Insomniacs) has a more grounded feel, with less flighty human accompaniment and reverb, and more of a focus on the crashing, cascading polyrhythms of Automates percussion. ‘Other-worldliness’ is a common description of Automates music. In fact, according to Rioux, - people all over the world describe it as “foreign” or “alien” - from anywhere but “here.” “When I performed coricerts in Senegal,” he says, “I brought only my mechanisms along, and hooked them up to native Senegalese instruments. And you know what? The locals said, ‘It sounds like something from Sierra Leone’!”

Rioux is, of course, working within a long tradition of automaton music (player-pianos and music boxes, for example, as well as the more advanced mechanisms of Maurice Martenot, father of the ondes martenot, and Alvin Lucier). But unlike much of the music composed for automatons - where machines simply carry out the precise wishes of their composermasters - Rioux’s has a very high randomness quotient. He doesn’t like the idea of keeping his automatons on a short leash and has no interest in “composing melodies.” He recently bought a record of composed music for automaton violin and hates it. “No soul” is his only comment. The importance of ‘soul’ to Rioux is perhaps revealed by the name of his project: ‘Ki’ is a reference to Chinese chi or Japanese ki - the vital but invisible energy all around us. The sounds of his automatons are physical representations of unseen waves or energy. He certainly plays this up in concert, deep in thought as he routes mysterious, unheard sounds this way and that from his mixing console. But his mystical side is always tempered by a certain science fair geekishness. A couple of minutes declaiming about the balance between chaos and order in the sonic manifestations of his waves, and he’s inevitably back to talking like an engineer. “Now, if you look at this on an oscilloscope…” he begins. At which point he loses me again.

… an army of tiny robot-instruments rigged up in an impossibly complex tangle of wires, stands, beaters and primitive mechanical arms.

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