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Review

Phil Zampino, The Squid’s Ear, 12 mars 2021
mercredi 17 mars 2021 Presse

For those interested in vocal improvisation, the latest Chorale Joker under Joane Hétu’s direction is an achievement in large scale vocal ensemble work. Like Maggie Nicol’s The Gathering, Hétu has assembled a large colection of 20 improvisers to perform her compositions, as well as works from Jean Derome and Danielle Palardy Roger. The list of performers is impressive, including Derome, Roger, Lori Freedman, François Couture, Diane Labrosse, Alexandre St-Onge, Michel F Côté, Gabriel Dharmoo, etc. The color booklet shows the ensemble, and images from the scores, including gestures used for the conductions. The results are other-worldly, a hybrid of anticipated choral work and something inexplicable. It’s unusual improvised music of the highest order executed by masterful musicians who clearly enjoy the concept, and the concert from which this album is derived.

The Montréal-based Chorale Joker ensemble directed and conducted by Joane Hétu, Danielle Palardy Roger, and Jean Derome, who are also participants, is one of the most unusual and fascinating improvising vocal ensembles active, heard here in a concert coordinated with Productions SuperMusique at Le Vivier, Amphiteatre du Gesu, Montréal in early 2020; indescribably fascinating!

It’s unusual improvised music of the highest order executed by masterful musicians who clearly enjoy the concept, and the concert from which this album is derived.

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Review

Peter Margasak, The Wire, no 446, 1 avril 2021
mercredi 10 mars 2021 Presse

Few top tier string quartets have been as devoted to experimental music as the Montréal ensemble Quatuor Bozzini, who routinely bring a stunning rigour to everything they play, whether the radical work of Swiss composer Jürg Frey or key Canadian figures such as Linda Catlin Smith, Cassandra Miller and Martin Arnold. This new album focuses on the music of Alvin Lucier, one of the most enduring and consequential sonic explorers of the last half-century, and the group’s razor-sharp precision and empathy helps bring the gripping psychoacoustics of his research into dynamic relief.

The album is bookended by two conventional yet open-ended string quartets, starting with the 1994 composition Disappearances originally written for Lucier’s students at Wesleyan University, and closing with the 1991 piece Navigations for Strings, previously recorded by Arditti. They feel like companion pieces. The first is built from harmonically rich, unison long tones that seem to float towards eternity, but eventually one musician slowly, almost imperceptibly, raises or lowers their individual pitch, incrementally followed by the others to produce acoustic beating with ever-changing rhythmic patterns, all contained within an immersive sustain. It’s the kind of work that could go on for hours, but this version clocks in at nearly 17 minutes, generating an immersive sonic experience at the heart of Lucier’s ongoing fascination with the science of sound.

In between the group perform two iterations of the 2004 piece Group Tapper, an adaptation of a piece written for violinist Conrad Harris — and recently featured in an hour long workout by his String Noise duo on a Black Truffle album — in which the musicians thwack at the bodies of their instruments with the butt end of a bow. Each one taps out different rhythms, but the real pleasure is observing how the percussive sounds fill the space they’re played in, as the musicians slowly move in the room, perpetually altering the sonic profile. Unamuno was written as a vocal piece, with each singer intoning a single pitch in a four-tone cluster, but the Bozzini’s complement the voice with strings. Lucier is brilliant, but his music always works best when performed by the truly dedicated.

… the group’s razor-sharp precision and empathy helps bring the gripping psychoacoustics of his research into dynamic relief.

Critique

Sophie Chartier, Le Devoir, 19 février 2021
dimanche 21 février 2021 Presse

Le surréalisme, parlons-en. Êtes-vous plus du type Lynch ou Jodorowsky? Des générations entières n’ont-elles pas été partiellement traumatisées par la grosse chenille fumeuse d’opium dans le dessin animé d’Alice au pays des merveilles? Parlant de ce film, ce sont les paroles du bariolé chat du Cheshire (au fait, qu’est-ce que des «momerate»?) qui ouvrent la nouvelle collaboration de collages sonores et d’effets de pédales entre les artistes expérimentaux N Nao et Joni Void. D’accord, le ton est donné. Alice nous guidera à travers des trappes, des détours, des incantations, des atmosphères entre glauque et ivresse. Les univers de ces deux explorateurs de l’inconscient s’arriment si bien l’un à l’autre que l’on croirait entendre un groupe formé depuis longtemps. Leur collaboration ne remonte qu’à 2019 toutefois. L’oiseau chante avec ses doigts est le premier d’une série d’albums bricolés avec du matériel grappillé depuis leurs débuts ensemble. ★★★ 1/2

… ces deux explorateurs de l’inconscient s’arriment si bien l’un à l’autre que l’on croirait entendre un groupe formé depuis longtemps.