Bas Ickenroth, KindaMuzik, 2 février 2002

Jean Derome is one of the co-founders of the Ambiances Magnétiques label, a Montréal-based label specialising in avant-garde, new music, improv, and contemporary creations. He plays all sorts of instruments, but especially flute and saxophone. He studied jazz, improv, contemporary, twelve-tone, atonal, folk and even pop. All this comes forward in his presentation of 23 short pieces of pure improvisation. He compiled this record at random, by playing three discs of each 23 different pieces in a shuffle mode, letting chance be the sole reign in compiling this album. While at first the music doesn’t seem to capture you in any way but annoyance, after a while, when you get used to the abstract tones and the free form improvisations which are seemingly without any structure, the album grows slowly but steadily. A big plus is that Derome never takes himself and his music too seriously. The overall tone is light and almost playful, and the fun which he had while making it shows very obviously. The music meanders between harsh atonal noise and soft spoken words, and everything in-between. This all is made by several different (mostly acoustic) instruments, most of them unrecognisably altered. There is a whole, underlying theme explaining why Derome made this recording in this particular way — it has something to do with dictionaries, fashion and catalogues, believe it or not — but it would take too much time and effort to present it all here.

Le magasin de tissu is a nice album if you’re into pure, abstract improv music, and if you are, you surely will be able to enjoy Jean Derome’s music. However, it doesn’t reach new levels in the Ambiances Magnétiques catalogue. Therefore, this album will only be really interesting if you’re a complete fanatic or if this is your first encounter with music from this label.