… which becomes more threatening / welcoming with each play. — The Sound Projector, UK
Il y a possiblement un peu d’apreté dans le travail de Gobeil, […] et amène sa musique, bien que véritablement «électronique» de pensée, à se positionner face à la musique académique classique, bien que posant toujours sa différence. — Revue & Corrigée, France
Prix Opus 2014-15: Disque de l’année — Finaliste
- Musicaction • SODEC
CD (IMED 15134)
- Label: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 15134 / 2015
- UCC 771028213429
- Total duration: 70:19
- 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
- 50 g
Download (IMED 15134_NUM)
- Label: empreintes DIGITALes
- IMED 15134_NUM / 2015
- UCC 771028213481
- Total duration: 70:19
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In the press
My latest encounter with the estimable empreintes DIGITALes label following my recent review of Erik Nyström’s brings me in touch with Canadian composer Gilles Gobeil in what has proven to be one of the label’s less immediate releases, yet which becomes more threatening / welcoming with each play. That ‘five of the six works on this disc were realised while in residence in studios abroad’ might lead one to infer a psycho-geographical undercurrent to each, which is true at least in Les lointains noirs et rouges. Opens in a living room animated by its contents: a weaving together of innocuous objects like grandfather clock, and church — and doorbells that by and by reveals its true character: a psychodrama of hypnic jerks and electric shocks.
Following this hurricane of free association, Castalie initiates shock treatment with incessant alarms, more machines and doors slammed by no visible human agency. Though ‘inspired freely’ by Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, its moments of stillness have the lurking menace of a Thomas Ligotti factory upon the protagonist’s passive and helpless body. Moving deeper into Bol-Hydre, Gobeil sets a ‘stunning musical instrument… (which) produces weird, menacing sounds’ against the mythical, multi-cephalic monster whose immunity to decapitation was finally thwarted by Hercules. It’s a case of reading the instructions here: Gobeil’s ‘weird and menacing’ is indeed the rickety groan of whatever passes for dentist music in the infernal regions.
Clearly more important to this collection than the geographical origins is its seat in the imagination, literary conceits being the order of the day, plus the odd whiff of radio drama. Drawn from The Aenid for instance, Sybille mixes moist whispers with yet more alarms and a dread-inducing drone through episodes of blackout, demonic intimacy and death by water, conveying a vapour-heightened state with unwelcome and unshakeable visions. Golem is perhaps the least startling piece here for the very reason that it’s pretty much a gestalt of everything else, though it’s unlikely that Gustav Meyrink would have disapproved of claustrophobic alarms (again), ticking clocks, and sudden swipes as an approximation of his paranoid Prague. In lieu of end credits, Des temps oubliés adds to this malaise a faint congregation of strings, choir, piano and gut-level rumbling, a human presence as distant from the listener as faceless bystanders in a nightmare. One though that the participant might feel reluctant to leave.
22. Gilles Gobeil — Les lointains
“Gobeil’s particular take on acousmatics is extremely heavily inflected with sharp attacks redolent of industrial machinery. Big impacts litter his music, acting both as material element and structural marker; as such they become antagonistic pivot points about which each piece spasmodically turns and contorts. One ends up feeling rather small listening to these pieces, but not just due to their blunt force trauma; Gobeil also punctuates his music with periods of repose that are more void-like and ambient (albeit edgy), broad but delicate vistas that seemingly stretch into infinity, gradually becoming filled with raw material for the next episode of onslaught. The scale, the force, the immensity, the drama—it all adds up to a sequence of experiences that go beyond simply being immersive; one feels enveloped by these six pieces, surrounded on all sides by danger and beauty of utmost intensity.” (Reviewed in September 2015.)
I’ve been kind of drowning in fascinating new releases lately, so I’m going to try and give something of a whistle-stop tour through some of the best. Beginning with a couple from the always wonderful Empreintes DIGITALes label.
Canadian composer Gilles Gobeil is represented by Les lointains, featuring six substantial pieces created between 2008 and 2013. Gobeil’s particular take on acousmatics is extremely heavily inflected with sharp attacks redolent of industrial machinery. Big impacts litter his music, acting both as material element and structural marker; as such they become antagonistic pivot points about which each piece spasmodically turns and contorts. One ends up feeling rather small listening to these pieces, but not just due to their blunt force trauma; Gobeil also punctuates his music with periods of repose that are more void-like and ambient (albeit edgy), broad but delicate vistas that seemingly stretch into infinity, gradually becoming filled with raw material for the next episode of onslaught. The scale, the force, the immensity, the drama—it all adds up to a sequence of experiences that go beyond simply being immersive; one feels enveloped by these six pieces, surrounded on all sides by danger and beauty of utmost intensity.
Büchs symfonische urban jungle.
Als je Vergilius, Hesse, Liszt, de golem en de hydra als inspiratiebronnen samenbrengt op een album dan is de kans nogal groot dat het een hectisch geheel wordt. Gilles Gobeil is dat klusje echter wel toevertrouwd. De componist heeft al meer dan 25 jaar ervaring onder de riem en dit is te horen.
Als je weet dat delen van zijn composities bestaan uit geluiden — variërend van koelkast en vaatwasser tot ander gerei in en om het urbane huis — dan ga je als vanzelf puzzelen. Dan vind je kerkklokken in de verte naast de tik-tok van een staande woonkamerklok. Dan snerpt een schuifdeur als een vingernagel over een schoolbord en weet je even niet of een hobo nu een vervormde klank uitstoot of dat het toch een piepend scharnier betreft. Gobeils microkosmos in huiselijke sferen verwordt zo tot een intrigerende symfonische urban jungle.
Gobeil pakt de nalatenschap van de musique concrète en sleurt die onbarmhartig naar het nu. Niet door een mallemolen aan noise te produceren, maar juist door dartel rond te dansen en van knetterende zoemers te hink-stap-springen naar een dubbele fortestoot van gepolijst Teutoons koper. Omineus kraakt grind onder de voeten, hoor je nu een fietsbel en wat is dat voor gebrabbel? De klankwereld van dit moment is zijn speeltuin vol muziek.
Tumult is een rode draad, maar Les Lointains is bovenal een zegetocht voor het luisteren naar de luister die je omringt. Gobeil heeft wel wat weg van Boudewijn Büch, die druk kon verhalen en van de ene vondst naar de andere buitelde. Waar de overleden programmamaker en schrijver fabuleerde dat het een lieve lust was, pakt Gobeil de myriaden aan inspiraties bij de kladden en kneedt deze tot een poëtica waarin muziek een ware alternatieve realiteit biedt. Bij vlagen futuristisch, soms nostalgisch, steevast gegrondvest in een werkelijkheid die door de uitvergroting van de loep die Gobeil je oor biedt bijna mythische proporties krijgt.
The final piece of our empreintes DIGITALes triptych demonstrates the diversity of the label, as well as the intelligence of its artists. Québec’s Gilles Gobeil has over 25 years of recordings under his belt, but has not released a solo album since 2008. On Les lointains, he returns with a vengeance, with tracks inspired by Virgil, Hesse and Liszt, and subject matter ranging from the golem to the hydra. Lest we take it all too seriously, he also includes a piece that incorporates the sounds of dishes, a refrigerator and a coffee maker.
The title track is a joy to decipher, as every sound is sourced from the home of sponsor Folkmar Hein. Inside the apartment, a grandfather clock ticks; outside, the bells of the Rathaus Schöneberg ring. Imagine testing the sonic properties of one’s home: tapping on every surface, sliding every door, testing every appliance. Most people have their favorite sounds (the hum of a refrigerator), as well as some they are less fond of hearing (the rattle of the air conditioner as it shifts from cool to fan). Subconsciously, we suspect that a home is a sort of system, a micro-version of a jungle, filled with mysterious mechanical beasts that creak or whirr without warning. And yet, a strange comfort can be derived by their confluence of sounds. While Gobeil’s treatment emphasizes the crashes and crunches, over time it becomes a tribute to a home and the man who lives within.
Inspired by Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game, Castalie starts with the sound of an alarm, then an electronic gate opening, freeing all manner of sounds from their containers. At points harsh and in between gentle (faint birdsong occupying the open spaces), the piece toys with expectations, hiding its moments of transition. Even on repeated listens, one is not exactly sure where the pathway will bend. Composed in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of musique concrète, Castalie is a blend of sounds that exist in conjunction nowhere else: take for example the appearance of a crop-duster just prior to the reappearance of the alarm. In the final minute, a melody tip-toes through the background, hoping not to be noticed, outdone by the more abstract foreground.
Bol-Hydre utilizes the sounds of the bol while adopting the hydra’s menacing mythology: cut off its head and another (or two, for those who read Kirby) will take its place. The percussion continues while the bol [“bowl”] howls and moans its low-toned warning. And yet, there are also bells, along with the sound of passing traffic, as if to suggest danger hidden in plain sight. One would be intimidated even without the prose. At this point, the album seems destined for darkness.
Gobeil gives into the impulse, introducing Sibylle with a brass blast, followed by a whisper: the gaping maw of the underworld. If Aeneas hopes to descend, he will also need to resist: the hydra was nothing compared to what awaits. Again a bell tolls, like a final plea. Do not do this. Gravel loosens from the path. A voice squeaks like a rusty swing. Clouds of soot obscure the steps. Waves lap at an unseen shore. The sibyl alternates between prophecy and onomatopoeia. The bells return in echoes, until all is devoured in smoke. Golem follows, footfalls colored by construction and percussion, enhanced by film strip and bicycle bell. In the distance, a minyan chants. The שם remains intact.
As Gobeil closes his collection with a tribute to Liszt, one imagines him opening the curtain a bit. Indeed, a choir seeps in, as do soft horns; the piano enters in the fourth minute. Yet the composition is less a reflection of tempestuous ivory as it is of a tumultuous life: I carry a deep sadness of the heart which must now and then break out in sound. One hopes for Gobeil a happier ending; if at times Les lointains sounds like notes stolen from the underworld, on Des temps oubliés he seems to have borrowed from heaven as well.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 / General
Sunday, May 24, 2015 / General
The 16th Concurso Internacional de Composição Electroacústica Música Viva has awarded its Prize to Counterattack by Adrian Moore. The jury also decided to recognized with honourable mentions Sibylle by Gilles Gobeil and Ventriloquy by Andre… More
Monday, May 11, 2015 / New releases
The spring harvest at empreintes DIGITALes is impressive: Tutschku, Parmerud, Forget, Gobeil, and Moore. Get them all today for only $95 — a 24% rebate. A limited time offer. [Finished on August 31, 2015.] More