Another long-standing collaboration is Castor et compagnie, started by Hétu in 1992. With this project she tries to shed new light on the ‘love song’, exploring new relations between text and vocals on the one hand and music on the other. After a long silence she presents now her third album of this project with music and texts by her hand. Performed by a quintet of veteran musicians: Joane Hétu (vocals, alto sax, objects), Jean Derome (sax, flute, keyboard, objects, voice), Diane Labrosse (sampler, voice), Pierre-Yves Martel (electric bass, synthesizer) and Pierre Tanguay (drums). Vocals (and texts) play a prominent role, and are essential for understanding what is happening here. Alas my knowledge of the French language is far too limited. Concentrating on the music then, we hear experimental song formats, of a style and quality we are used too from Hétu and her companions. They may be not very surprising, but again they are full of funny twists and arrangements with sensitive and expressive vocals and playing. It’s intimate atmosphere and drama is not to be missed.
The first generation of musicians from the Ambinaces Magnétiques from Montréal are still very productive. This counts for example for Ensemble SuperMusique, founded in 1999 and directed nowadays by Joane Hétu and Danielle Palardy Roger. Their projects always are about crossing borders between improvisation and composition, using electronic as well as acoustic instrumentations. This time the ensemble is compiled of: Isaiah Ceccarelli (percussion), Guido Del Fabbro (violin), Jean Derome, Lori Freedman (clarinets), Joane Hétu (alto sax, objects), Pierre-Yves Martel (violin de gamba, cither), Danielle Palardy Roger (direction), Alexandre St-Onge (electric bass), Scott Thomson (trombone), Guillaume Dostaler (piano), Rémy Bélanger de Beauport (violoncello), Guido del Fabbro (violin) and Jean Derome (alto sax, flutes, objects). No electronics this time on this live recording that was “part of the exhibition of composer Symon Henry’s graphic score Voir dans le vent qui hurle les étoiles rire, et rire”. Symon Henry is a young multi-disciplinary artist and researcher, interested in combining concert music, visual arts and poetry. For this new work he wrote a 168-page hand-drawn graphic score. It is a work in six parts taking almost 52 minutes, played in one continuous flow. The graphic scores a series of very abstract and minimalistic drawings. So I guess each performance is totally different. As interpreting graphic scores leave plenty of room for the musicians, who make their own individual choices in interpreting the graphic score. For so far this can be called a setting of improvised music to some extent, it is not one whereby the performers directly respond to another. But surely they also made their choices considering the dynamic, etc of the total sound and flow of the music. The work continues more or les as a continuous stream, built up from often long extended movements and gestures by the performers. The music unfolds gently and cautious, leading up to delicate and fragile constructions, united by the direction of Danielle Palardy Roger.
Quatuor Bozzini is a very enterprising and focused quartet operating since 1999. Members are: Clemens Merkel (violin), Alissa Cheung (violin), Stéphanie Bozzini (viola) and Isabelle Bozzini (cello). Most of their challenging projects concern modern experimental composers as you may know from earlier reviews. This time they concentrate on some compositions by Ana Sokolović. She is a composer from Belgrade, Serbia. She studied at the University of Novi Sad, Belgrade and Montréal where she is settled since two decades. She has composed for orchestra, solo piano, chamber music ensemble and theatre. The quartet choose following compositions to perform: Ghost 1 (2015), Commedia dell ‘arte I-II-III (2010-2013), Ghost 2 (2015), Blanc dominant (1988) and Troisième page après le soleil (2013). Commedia dell’ arte is the central work, on this release, a composition in 10 parts, inspired on this old Italian theatre tradition. Each one with its own characteristics. But all are very lively and dramatic with dominant elements that are playful and accessible. The composition is preceded and followed by two other ultra short compositions: Ghost I and Ghost II, the first one being very up tempo, while the second one in contrast is a very meditative and reflective piece. Blanc Dominant is inspired on another art form, contemplating the abstract paintings of Guido Molinari. Sokolović proves to be a composer of very intense and dynamic music with influences of (Balkan) folk music and theatre. In the hands of Quatuor Bozzini her compositions come in a very inspired and concentrated performance.
Gabriel Dharmoo is a young composer, vocalist, improviser and researcher from Montréal, where he completed his studies in composition and analysis. He studied also Carnatic music and has an interest in cross-cultural and multi-traditional musical projects; a broad-minded and multi-talented performer and composer. He travelled the globe performing on many different festivals and also many of his compositions have been performed on most continents. He is “interested in the ambiguous space between reality and fiction, imagining the music of invented cultures”. On this debut solo album, we learn more about him as a composer, improviser and vocalist. The album entails seven works, composed between 2009 and 2019. All works are pure abstract non-verbal works, except Futile Spells that has partly bi-lingual vocals (French and English). This is the central and most lengthy piece on the album sung by a choir of nine vocalists (with some handclapping). This is a very dramatic work that illustrates his focus that I just quoted. One hears allusions of other vocal traditions from all over the globe, condensed in convincing and intelligent constructions that suggest some kind of fictional world music. This counts for all works on this release. The closing work. Vaai Irandu for example is a very Indian-flavored melodic work. Notre meute also echoes many cultural influences in an intriguing performance by the experimental voice ensemble Phth using a variety of techniques. The improvised works, Duo de Moogeon is a very intense duo of Dharmoo with Elizabeth Lima. Trompe de Cataimaans is a fantastic solo improvisation by Dharmoo. This is experimental on the one hand, but also very physical and human music. A fantastic album that brings joy!
C’est dans une démarche de recyclage des objets du quotidien, que s’inscrit le travail de la compositrice Léa Boudreau.
Pour Chaos contrôlé, elle s’est penchée sur le circuit-bending de jouets d’occasion, confectionnant une matière première corrosive, qu’elle a sculpté pour donner naissance à des titres aux variations constantes et ludiques.
Naviguant sur des terres inquiétantes traversées de spasmes humoristiques, Chaos contrôlé déverse dans l’espace des volutes tourbillonnantes entrainant l’auditeur dans des contes étranges aux échos palpitants, traversés de modulations glitchées aux grésillements nerveux et de noise cardiaque. Un album cartoonesque pour adultes consentants!!!