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Review

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, 11 mai 2018

Ensemble SuperMusique (ESM) is an ongoing (since 1998) large with a dozen discs on the great Quebec-based Ambiances Magnetiques label which began in 1984 and soon the celebrate their 35th anniversary. This version of ESM features 13 members from Quebec and Ontario including prominent names like Jean Derome (alto sax & flutes), Joane Hetu (alto sax & voice), Scott Thomson (trombone), Bernard Falaise (electric guitar), Isaiah Ceccarelli & Danielle Palardy Roger (percussion). Each disc by ESM features different musician/composers leading the ensemble. For this disc we have three long works led by Danielle Palardy Roger and Joane Hetu (both co-leaders of ESM) and guest composer/director Lisa Cay Miller. ESM has long worked with the idea of the balance between composed and freely improvised musics. In the liner notes, we get an explanation of the intention for each of the composers. Ms. Roger’s En arrivant par le nuage de Oort is based on a graphic score which represents a journey through space from the Oort Cloud (past Pluto) to the Sun. Our journey begins quietly and is filled with an eerie sense of mystery. The density slowly get thicker throughout, the sounds vibrating, the intensity escalating as we move through space. Ms. Hetu’s Préoccupant, c’est préoccupant deals with the ever-present interference which goes on in our lives. Ms. Hetu provides some minimal seasoning with some consistently weird/hilarious vocal sounds which fit perfectly with the way this piece unfolds, with unexpected bits of interference. Guest composer Lisa Cay Miller’s Water Carrier deals with drinking water quality in Canada, especially the dilemma of the First Nations bad water quality. The score itself involves a checkerboard which prompts the players to switch from notated to freely improvised sections. The music sounds like directed improv, focused and engaging, with selects bursts of activity between obviously written sections. What makes Ensemble SuperMusique special is that each of their dozen discs finds a way of harnessing the many different ways that composers and players utilize the balance between written and unwritten extremes.

What makes Ensemble SuperMusique special is that each of their dozen discs finds a way of harnessing the many different ways that composers and players utilize the balance between written and unwritten extremes.

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