The flute can have a hard I time in new music. So it’s a pleasure to discover Les mains moites (Clammy Hands), an interesting, clever and musical piece that flutist Jean Derome commissioned from Canadian guitarist composer René Lussier and which is included on Trois histoires. This work bursts with ideas and shows off Derome’s skills while keeping up the interest. There are synthesizers and turntables and strange, beguiling sonics detalis in additon to the more obviously identifable flutes, speech ana guitars. I guess we should call it an electroacoustic work, for it’s unequivocally the product of a recording studio, but the 18 minute piece sounds a lot more fun than the tag often implies.
René Lussier is best known as a guitarist, one of those indefatigable characters who turn up all over the place-improvising with Fred Frith, Tom Cora or Chris Cutler; playing with electroacoustic composer Gilles Gobeil (who helped out with Clammy Hands ), writing theatre music; fronting groups. It’s hard not to be impressed by his talent and energy. He reminds me a bit of Billy Jenkins. Like Jenkins, Lussier manages to keep serious musical intent, musical humour and plain silliness in a nicely tuned equlibrium. Trois histoires is a collection of three biggish ’concert’ pieces. In addition to’Clammy Hands’there’s another epic,Art Brut, a’sort of homage to an unknown artist’, which includes some dazzling acoustic guitar playing among all the dramantic’radiogenic’ noises and spatial transformations. The third piece,Black Rock commissioned by fellow Canadian guitarist Tim Brady (it has already turned up on one of Brady’s own albums), has a strong documentary thread which ends with a stadium snatch of ’When Irish Eyes Are Smiling~ sung by Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, while Brady comes over all Jimi Hendrix. Yet guitar histrionics never dominate the sound world of Trois histoires. Lussier’s musical generosity and originality shine through every segment and the pieces whizz by in a flash.