Chroniques d’une séduction

Jacques Tremblay

Tremblay’s ingenuity is almost limitless in this extended work, which has an extremely rich soundworld; opening up to the listener, layer after layer. Sonoloco Record Reviews, Sweden

Det sista verket Empathies entropiques (1998-2001) som är uppdelad i åtta stycken imponerar mest. Sound of Music, Sweden

Prix Opus 2008-09: Disque de l’année — Finaliste

  • Canada Council for the Arts • SODEC

CD (IMED 0897)

  • Label: empreintes DIGITALes
  • IMED 0897
  • 2008
  • UCC 771028089727
  • Total duration: 69:08
  • OGpak
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
  • 50 g

On the web

Download (IMED 0897_NUM)


Between Intrigue and Fascination

he main theme running through all three of the works included on this CD is otherness. Each piece illustrates different facets of this theme.

O the irony! As I try to fold back around my memories, my ability to focus is suddenly challenged by my noisy neighbour going by and talking loudly into his cell phone headset.

The noise of this undesired speech immediately ties up my memory. This foreign tongue and its strong accents are heckling me. However, I persist in writing, which soon relegates the surrounding audio flow to the background. Since I cannot grasp the meaning of the words, my neighbour’s conversation becomes beat, movement, pace. And my listening finds purchase on the musicality of the sound.

Later, when I resume my active listening, I realize that elsewhere in the background, over my head in fact, the patrons of the fruit store are ‘pacing around,’ influenced by the ebb of a radio, whose sound reaches me through the floor/ceiling in a highly-filtered form.

Finally, further in the background is an animated layer of vehicle sounds pulsated by the clock mounted on the wall… An Arabian song comes from a car, panning from left to right… Multiplicity is here and now and… My attitude hesitates between shutting it all out or marveling at it.

I listen… looking from the inside out… and rather than closing itself up, my perception tries to feed off these sonic imprints.

The above sums up pretty well how I found my pace in realizing these works. My vision extrapolated into numerous ramifications along the way. My attention still thought it was focusing on a familiar sound, but it was actually slipping into the chronicles of intrigue and fascination. And for this experience, the ‘I’ becomes the ‘other.’ And being able to dissociate oneself from it is strangely fascinating.

Isn’t that part of the Other’s seductive power? This very otherness holds the power to awake us, dust down our old ready-to-ware suits/ideas, initiating a new fresh attitude toward astonishment and discovery.

[English translation: François Couture, viii-08]

Some recommended items
In the press


Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews, November 12, 2009

When I heard the name Jacques Tremblay, I was sure I’d reviewed CDs by him before, but that wasn’t so. It seems the name Tremblay is common in electroacoustic realms, or maybe in the French-speaking world, because I had reviewed Marc Tremblay and Pierre Alexandre Tremblay before, not Jacques…

Jacques Tremblay was born in Jonquière, Québec, in 1962. He is a composer and a classical guitarist.

Tremblay explains that the main theme through his three works here is otherness. He goes into exemplifications, like a moment of reminiscing disturbed by a noisy neighbor, or a radio station reaching him from somewhere outside his private space, or an Arabian song panning by, from inside a passing car, and so forth. His own attitude towards these external intrusions into his privacy also pan, from resistance to interest and even pleasure.

Track 1. Espresso espressivo (2003 — 04) [12:30]

Jacques Tremblay, at the end of his CD cover introduction to the piece, expresses his regards to the “expressiveness of [his] espresso machine”. We fall right into an up-tempo urbanism in this work; hectic, caffeine-speedy, nervous; in the spastic motion of modern day moneymaking. Furthermore, it is a motion from the outside to the inside; from a street scene into the obscurity of a bar — or something. These are the first few seconds of the caffeine piece.

Then a peculiar thing happens, as this everyday atmosphere all of an electroacoustic sudden changes into another sonic and mental realm. Tremblay, like an escaping hare, jumps sideways into something else, pulling the listener with him into a thoughtful, slow motion suspension in space, which somehow is made up of all these familiar street-and-bar sonorities, although pulled and stretched in rubber band heaven.

I can appreciate that many of these wheezing sounds are derived from Mr. Tremblay’s espresso machine, and perhaps the cathedral bells that resound, seemingly, through the wall, come from the rattling of porcelain in the bar / café? The mix of white noise wheezing and slithering with hushed and muffled church bells, anyhow, makes for a highly interesting piece of electroacoustic poetry!

Of course there’s got to be some bubbling effects in a piece of espresso machine music, and here they come; first just hinted at, at a natural pitch and speed, but then slowed-down and low-pitched, in shiny, glary concave surfaces of sound, alligator back-like. Nice!

It’s not that the sounds are obvious at all. I don’t think I’d make the immediate association, if I hadn’t been told. With that piece of information, though, you don’t have to look hard!

The “real world” is gradually mixed back in with the extended electroacoustic aspects, in the shape of people chatting across their coffee cups… but soon Tremblay zooms in on some of the sounds in this wide awake environment, like the dropping of some sugar cubes into the coffee, and the subsequent stirring of a spoon in said cup — while the rest of the environment; chatter and all, seems to be sucked up around the walls and the ceiling, leaving ample sonic room for the details focused on. Brilliant!

The wake and extremely present moment is sometimes diluted and warp-sped into the field of a common consciousness that spreads across the vast distances between the galaxy clusters, in an action of non-locality that dizzies, eventually ending up as a standing wave of energy clear across the universe. Jacques Tremblay shifts perspective and aspect in a jiffy inside his sound art, from the stirring of a spoon in a cup to the horizon of events at the brink of a black hole.

With an eye on the stars passing by in a stretched silence, Tremblay opens a bag of coffee and fills his machine. The ambience of spiraling thoughts swings the moment around, as some steam rises. A bubble of here and now, containing that pleasant chatter of the coffee shop, sails by, while other bubbles with other moments — of there and then, perhaps — bounce off.

Reflections of even-surfaced singing hang like meandering serpentines through time, while chopped-up, permuted, sliced and rolled-up Bach quotes fall away like shiny, colorful candy wrappers out of a toddler’s Christmas Day hands.

The pressurized and moist air passing through Tremblay’s coffee machine makes me think of passenger jets streaming by high up, leaving trails across the sky, and that far-off, curving sound of power, speed and distance, high up in the dressed-up atmosphere of inter-continentalia! The coughing and squirting of this coffee commodity, pitched-down, evoke visions of dark thunderclouds across a summer’s lake, the claps resounding back and forth between the shores. Reflections of fluorescent tubes in spoons provide the lightning.

Later on Tremblay’s coffee music turns liturgical, as it nears the South East Asian Gamelan ensemble expression, although, simultaneously, this passage awakens memories of small herds of cows with cowbells around their necks, moving across a Swiss slope in the fragrance of spring flowers and the vibrancy of bumble bees.

Wonderfully percussive spurs fall by like the rattling of bamboo sticks, also resembling a steam locomotive struggling up a hill in the Rockies — and somehow these visions of sound all stem from a coffee machine under the spiritual influence of sonic wizard Jacques Tremblay from Jonquière!

Track 2. L’énigme anima (1997, 2001) [9:22]

There are two sides to L’énigme anima; Persona and Anima. Tremblay explains that Persona represents the outer personality, while Anima, then, constitutes the inner one. The composer refers to Carl Gustav Jung (1875 — 1961). Jacques Tremblay lets Persona express itself through guitar sounds, while Anima is heard through a counter tenor. I suppose Tremblay provides the guitarisms, but there is no way to guess the counter tenor, so I guess — before listening — that the identity of this voice is so far removed that dropping a name is useless.

The music — the moment — the present… starts with a breath, a rasping ripple of dust and iron, a voice gliding between evening clouds… a dream… A speedy velocity pans the premises, while toy horseshoes clatter up-tempo. The guitar arrives on a slow-down note, breaking to a halt, almost falling over forwards. The female voice rattles down; comes to a standstill. A breath is being breathed. Guitar slaps you in the face, like a Zen master might do, recited by Lucien Stryk. And yet, we have only reached 50 seconds into L’énigme anima. This means that Jacques Tremblay works hard with his compositions; studies time in detail, grain by grain, second by second, though he never loses sight of the overall impression. He knows his trade.

Lots of things happen; many details are formed and de-formed, rising through your mind, sliding out of your perception — and there’s no way to collect all of Tremblay’s expressions in one impression. Deep, drone-like sounds carry the moments, while high-pitch patches are let loose higher up in your mind. Suddenly melodious shreds of tunes are hinted at; a kind gesture inside the poisonous moment.

This is a piece drenched in fragments, over-loaded with sprawling and straggling auditive thorns; not a very harmonious sonic adventure, and, I must say, a pretty laborious work to hear…

Tracks 3 — 10. Empathies entropiques (1998 — 2001) [47:08]: La petite Camille; L’enfant d’Afrique; Ganga is Divine; Lolita corps et âme; Polonaise; Tryptique russe; Rêve libanis; Haïti troubadour (dedicated to Yves Daoust)

The last work on the CD is much longer than the preceding works, containing of no less than eight parts, all together forty-seven minutes.

Jacques Tremblay quotes Martin Buber, from his book I and Thou, in connection with this extended work:

“This is the eternal origin of art: a shape appears to a man and demands to be fixed in a work. That shape is not the product of his soul, but an outside apparition that manifested itself to that soul and asked from it an efficient force. This is an essential action. If the man realizes himself, if he says, with all his might, the fundamental word I-You to the shape that appeared to him, the efficient force flows, and the work is born”

Tremblay also says that this piece is “an inner odyssey […] in praise of multiplicity.

He further explains that this long electroacoustic work features a series of snapshots with otherness-character, from various cultures. The languages that the voices that he features are clothed in are Russian, Italian, Creole, English, Arabic, African [I don’t know which of the many African languages he means] and a made-up language. However, he uses these languages blindly, without consideration to the inherent meaning of the words, since he doesn’t speak these languages. He was aiming at a sense of strangeness.

However, the first voice I hear is that of a French-speaking toddler — La Petite Camille -, whose happy exclamations fly up and flutter around like a swarm of butterflies in the sun.

Strange, estranged… ripples of drone-like character are laid out like bracelets on a desk at a jeweler’s store, while the little child plays in the soundscape, talking happily to himself, and then to a parent, who replies. It’s a mix of the apparent, the obvious, the well known — and a visualization of an inner world, like so often in modern electroacoustics. The breathing of a busy child playing is the cement that makes for a kind of coherence when all these strange dreams and visions are blended into the so-called reality.

The breathing of this child is slowly spilling over into another world of sounds, where the rhythm of these inhalations, exhalations turn dark, slow, deep — like was it the soil that expands and retracts under your feet. In the middle of a sound-poetic permutation of the French-speaking people at hand, the audible and comprehendible voices appear, but soon in a language that nor I or the composer understand. This means that the voices then Are used as just another sonic ingredient, although the vibrations of human voices always are biased in such a way that you never really can regard them solely as sound, without the attached irritation/pleasure/ indifference of a person.

The original child’s voice returns, but bathed in a bell-like ambience, Jell-O-like, wobbling, moving like huge soap bubbles in the wind. An English-speaking man of non-English origin talks about salvation. The ample usage of various languages reminds me of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Engel-Prozession (2000), in which he utilized languages from India, China, Spain, The English-speaking world, the Spanish-speaking world, Africa (Kiswahili) and Germany for his choirs and soloists.

Jacques Tremblay grabs an instance of a child’s voice and stretches it electroacoustically into elastic bands of catcalls, very illusionary! Adult voices are also permuted and pitched-away, so as to take on the guises of trombones and drowsy cows — or the desperate rubbing of wet balloons, like in Sune Karlsson’s 12-hour work Phonia Domestica (1988).

Tremblay’s ingenuity is almost limitless in this extended work, which has an extremely rich soundworld; opening up to the listener, layer after layer. Empathies entropiques honorably takes its place in the glorious tradition of worked-through, programmatic or semi-programmatic French electroacoustic grand works by composers like Bernard Parmegiani, François Bayle, Michel Chion or Francis Dhomont.

Tremblay’s ingenuity is almost limitless in this extended work, which has an extremely rich soundworld; opening up to the listener, layer after layer.


Jan Willem Broek, Caleidoscoop, June 21, 2009

Naast een nieuwe Mathew Adkins komt het Canadese empreintes DIGITALes label nu ook met een nieuwe cd van de alom geprezen, bekroonde componist en klassiek gitarist Jacques Tremblay. Ditmaal wel een Canadees uit de befaamde musique concrète hoek. Op zijn nieuwste werk Chroniques d’une séduction heeft hij als thema het brede “verscheidenheid” gekozen. Tremblay staat eigenlijk altijd bekend om zijn verscheidene benaderingen van de muziek. Ook hier laveert hij tussen musique concrète, elektro-akoestische muziek, plunderphonics, puur elektronische muziek en akoestische gitaarmuziek. Hierdoor klinkt hij anders dan zijn labelgenoten en maakt hij het voor de luisteraar meestal tot een waar spektakel vol onnavolgbare geluiden. Dat is zeker op deze nieuwe cd het geval. Naast de genoemde genres varieert hij ook binnen de genres door toevoeging van uiteenlopende akoestische instrumenten. De cd is in 3 delen, verspreid over 10 stukken, verdeeld. In het eerste deel gaat hij uit van elementen die onder druk staan. En of dat nou een espressoapparaat is, Bach die er een cantate uitperst of Gainsbourg die erotiserend uit de hoek komt, alles kan in de wereld van Tremblay. Hierdoor krijg je dan allerlei genres door elkaar, van de plunderphonics tot de klassieke en ongrijpbare elektronische elementen. In het tweede deel stoeit hij met musique concrète, de akoestische gitaar en flarden van een countertenor. Dit geeft een surreëel maar wonderschone atmosfeer. Heel mooi is het laatste, derde deel van de cd waar hij stemmen uit diverse landen, van Russisch en Frans tot Arabisch, in zijn musique concrète inbed. Stemmen van volwassenen en kinderen. Hiermee creëert hij een filmisch en spookachtig geheel dat verbluffend mooi en mystiek te noemen is. Het is eigenlijk ondoenlijk een cd als deze te bespreken, dus ga deze verleidelijke pracht vooral zelf beluisteren.


Johan Redin, Sound of Music, no. Vecka 24, June 15, 2009

Visst har man ibland bestämda minnen av saker någon annan har gjort eller sagt där det senare visar sig att det faktiskt var en själv det handlade om? Visst har man ibland bestämda minnen av hur en plats låter, hur en specifik dörr låter när den öppnas eller stängs eller kanske hur ett visst porslin låter när man använder det? Ljuden vistas i vårt medvetande lika mycket som bilder, begrepp eller erfarenheter gör det. I ett fotoalbum går det att bläddra, se och känna igen. Men hur långt utanför bildens ramar sträcker sig minnet? Det blir allt mer diffust, kanske rentav fabricerande när man börjar pussla ihop ett och annat. Tänk om man hade ett liknande album för ljud där man sätter sig för att lyssna på det man registrerat eller upplevt. Minnena blir nog ganska snart mycket oklara och rentav främmande. Mina minnen tillhör mig, men vad innebär “mitt” i detta fall? Inom oss bär vi även det okända, det andra.

Minnets “jag” är inte bara en psykologisk eller filosofisk fråga, det kan också undersökas musikaliskt. Den kanadensiska elektroakustiska tonsättaren Jacques Tremblay har på skivan Chroniques d’une séduction sammanställt en liten svit av tre verk som kretsar kring temat minne och “annanhet” (otherness). Det första stycket, Espresso espressivo (2003-2004), består av ljudmaterial från en espressomaskin mixade med ljud från ett café. Det förefaller kanske banalt, men Tremblays känsla för rytm och sammanfogning gör att stycket blir både suggestivt och humoristiskt, nästan på gränsen till science fiction-film när ljudet av bryggprocessen förstärks och accentueras.

Den andra kompositionen, L’énigme anima (1997, 2001), är däremot mindre lekfullt med en starkare koncentration på kompositoriska element där Tremblays bakgrund som klassisk gitarrist framträder. Stycket kretsar tematiskt kring medvetandet och undermedvetandet, persona kontra anima. Som en slags musikalisk dialog fungerar det, även om det stundtals påminner alltför mycket om Berios sextiotalsverk. Men den bifogade essän som anger någon psykoanalytisk utgångspunkt går mig däremot helt förbi.

Det sista verket Empathies entropiques (1998-2001) som är uppdelad i åtta stycken imponerar mest. Trots sina 47 minuter sitter man skärpt och lyssnar till morfologiska förändringar och splittingar av ljud, händelser och berättelser på både kända och påhittade språk. Det är inte bara minnets utan också drömmens process som föreställs i verket, dvs. förutsättningslösa synteser av sådant som i det vakna livet skulle framstå som fullständigt osannolikt, osammanhängande eller absurt. Narkotiska hörselhallucinationer och rena elektroniska ljud uppblandas med en slags katalog av stadsljud, konversationer, barn, skratt och buller. Vissa situationer blir hotfulla, andra lockande eller bara estetiskt tilltalande.

Detta är Tremblays andra skiva. Den första, Alibi, släpptes på samma kanadensiska bolag Empreintes Digitales för drygt tio år sedan. Det tar med andra ord lång tid mellan varven. Och det hörs att Tremblay har lagt ned mycket arbete bakom verket. Hoppas att det inte tar lika lång tid till nästa. Intressant, grävande elektroakustisk musik växer inte på träd nuförtiden.

Det sista verket Empathies entropiques (1998-2001) som är uppdelad i åtta stycken imponerar mest.

Listening Diary

François Couture, Monsieur Délire, June 9, 2009

Let’s start the day with some electroacoustic music. This new CD by Jacques Tremblay is uneven, but certainly not uninteresting. Three works. First is Espresso Espressivo (12 minutes), a piece about… coffee! I don’t like coffee (I’m a tea man), but I appreciate this classy collage of form plays and sound plays around the brown bean (although the reference to Gainsbourg is so easy it’s cheap). L’énigme anima (9 minutes) is the most abstract piece on the program, and its esthetics is very close to Yves Daoust. The piece de résistance is Empathies entropiques (47 minutes), about otherness and based on conversations in various foreign languages, seemingly captured on the fly. […] I’ll need to give it another listen if I want to make up my mind.

… classy collage of form plays and sound plays…


ASB, De:Bug, no. 133, June 1, 2009

“Bevor ich die Bedeutung der Worte verstehe, sind die Unterhaltungen meiner Nachbarn für mich nur Rhythmus, Bewegung, Geschwindigkeit. Mein Ansatzpunkt beim Zuhören ist die Musikalität des Klangs und ich versuche diese Eindrücke akustisch aufzufüllen.” So beschreibt der Gitarrist und Komponist Jacques Tremblay seine Musik und die Entstehung der Chroniques d’une séduction. Er arbeitet gleichzeitig mit instrumentellen und elektroakustischen Klangerzeugern, mischt Sprachaufnahmen mit Fieldrecordings und Aufnahmen von Musikinstrumenten, die wiederum wie Fieldrecordings klingen. Digital bearbeitet, arrangiert und mit Effekten versehen, ergibt sich daraus ein spannendes Hörstück.

Tapage nocturne

Éric Serva, France Musique, April 16, 2009

«De l’autre côté de l’Atlantique et basé à Montréal, le label Empreintes Digitales édite depuis bientôt 20 ans des albums de références en matière de musiques électroacoustiques, acousmatiques et concrètes.»

«Chroniques d’une séduction est une œuvre de Jacques Tremblay conçue autour du principe d’altérité. Une altérité aux facettes multiples dans laquelle la notion d’acceptation et de reconnaissance de l’autre dans sa différence a été vécue par ce musicien alors qu’il était en pleine séance de composition et que sa concentration à été troublée par des passants, des bruits divers de choses et de gens. Une expérience banale qui conduit souvent à l’agacement mais de troublée, l’écriture musicale de Jacques Tremblay, sera très vite inspirée, nourrie et enrichie. Cette prise de conscience deviendra le thème même de ce nouvel album judicieusement intitulé Chroniques d’une séduction. Je vous propose de nous retrouver autour de la machine à café, lieu de rencontres et d’échanges et qui peut devenir, pour les plus sages d’entre nous un lieu propice à l’altérité.»


Jos Smolders, Earlabs, April 9, 2009

Tremblay brings us three well crafted works on this cd, his first in ten years. It was well worth the waiting!

Jacques Tremblay is of the same generation as Ned Bouhalassa, whose [disc] we reviewed a few days earlier. Tremblay is a different character, though. Where Bouhalassa brings the street into the studio, Tremblay, to me at least, is more the composer who regards the studio as a laboratory where he brews and distils all kinds of sounds and then places them under a microscope and then continues with determination.

Tremblay is the kind of composer who picks up a theme and then turns it inside out, sound wise. The first work on this CD, for instance, concentrates on the word ‘café’ which in French means both ‘coffee’ and ‘pub’. This offers of course an interesting combination where on the one hand we hear ‘sound’ ground or granulated like coffee beans and then brought under heavy pressure to produce a strong ‘espresso’. On the other hand there are the sounds that we associate with a cozy pub/cafe.

The center piece of this release is Empathies entropiques. I must say, it is by far the best piece of this disc and luckily it continues to be so for more than 47 minutes. The work is divided up into eight parts. An interesting mix of field recording, editing thereof and electronics. Constantly moving and revolving. Beautiful.

Tremblay at several points uses the typical editing techniques that are common with acousmatic composers, especially the ED composers, but in general his style is personal and strong.

Rated: 8/10

Constantly moving and revolving. Beautiful.


Frans de Waard, Vital, no. 672, March 23, 2009

There is an interesting quote on the cover of Chroniques d’une séduction: “since I cannot grasp the meaning of the words, my neighbor’s conversation becomes beat, movement, pace” — that exactly happened to me last night, as I heard voices on the otherwise silent street. I vaguely heard it was about not being able to get in the house, but the finer points of the conversation were lost on me. So I understand more what Tremblay says. He’s a composer and classically trained guitarist and in the three pieces here on his second solo CD show his diverse interests in instrumental music, electronic music and field recordings. It’s on Empreintes Digitales, which guides the listener in a certain direction. Although I think Tremblay’s disc is more interesting than some of the releases I encountered from this label in the last year, also Tremblay doesn’t escape what I think is part of the overall Empreintes Digitales sound: the tumbling of sounds, the pitching up and downwards of the material — be they instrumental, vocal, field recordings or purely electronical. But Tremblay adds a certain element of anarchy to it I think, which makes this throughout more enjoyable than some of the more rigid releases. Children’s voices, street sounds and in some parts of Empathies entropiques even reminding me of Nurse With Wound. Quite a nice work.

… even reminding me of Nurse With Wound. Quite a nice work.