electrocd

Images nomades

Francis Dhomont

Images nomades is an exhausting, exhilarating, and highly rewarding listening experience. Avant Music News

… as a master of his craft. The WholeNote, Canada

  • Canada Council for the Arts

CD

  • Label: empreintes DIGITALes
  • IMED 20167 / 2020
  • UCC 771028216727
  • Total duration: 77:20
  • OGpak
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
  • 50 g

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Notices

Nomadic…

Nomadic [nomades, in French] are the following acoustic images through their movements across various stylistic and semantic fields.

This album consists of two very different parts of roughly the same duration. The first one features three abstract works, two of which are less than five years old. The second one culls short tribute pieces composed for musical anniversaries.

Part 1

The first three pieces all belong to my body of “abstract” works, unlike many of my compositions that fall under what I call the “figurative” category. By abstract, I mean works that have no other subject than music itself and which unfold solely along sonic criteria: rhythmical motifs; variations in density, intensity, material, shape; studies on how to occupy space; etc. They do not imply any metaphor. My figurative works, on the other hand, are those that are inspired by a non-musical theme, be it from poetry, literature, psychoanalysis, etc. These terms — abstraction and figuration — refer to those in use in the visual arts.

Phoenix XXI and Perpetuum mobile (Pluies fantômes) are twin pieces, two versions of the same project whose joint title could be Homozygotes (see Luc Ferrari), as they are developing the same accumulative, teeming materials, the sounds gathered in clusters, rainfalls — a consistent feature in my writing. The rehabilitation of pitches, of tones. Phoenix XXI is in stereo and rather contrapuntal, while Perpetuum mobile (Pluies fantômes) is an eight-channel piece and mostly harmonic. On this album, these two pieces are separated by Machin de machine, a fantasy inspired by Conlon Nancarrow’s rhythmical complexities.

Part 2

Ami-versaires: nine tributes to composers. These works often have a humorous tone and title tied to the camaraderie existing between the author and the individuals to whom these short pieces are dedicated. Many of these pieces quote, explicitly or implicitly, a well-known work by the dedicatee.

Francis Dhomont, Avignon (France) [English translation: François Couture, ix-20]

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In the press

Review

Mike Eisenberg, Avant Music News, February 9, 2021

Images nomades seems to update and transport the listener to the potentials of what 21st-century technology can add to Acousmatic music. To the very processed driven, this release presents a conundrum of sorts. Just what is synthetic and what is sampled? Frankly, it’s very hard to tell… but I’ll ask again, should we care? After all, per the classical definition of Acousmatic music, all sounds should be separated from their origin. For one to really appreciate the sound, where it came from is immaterial. While this may present an interesting “game” the listener can play, I feel that at the end of the day it’s how the sounds add to your experience while listening to them that really matters. How they were produced is of secondary consideration.

The album is split into two parts. The first part has three lengthy pieces that the composer says fall into his “abstract” work. Quoting him… “By abstract, I mean works that have no other subject than the music itself and which unfold solely along sonic criteria; rhythmical motifs; variations in density, intensity, material, shape; studies on how to occupy space; etc. They do not imply any metaphor. My figurative works, on the other hand, are those that are inspired by a non-musical theme, be it from poetry, literature, psychoanalysis, etc.” The second half of the album are shorter pieces and are all dedicated to his fellow Acousmatic voyagers.

The first piece is Phoenix XXI, named because he once again used samples from very old recordings and “reanimated” them (the Phoenix rising from the ashes) with present-day technology. The ambiguity of sounds here is in full force. After Dhomont’s sonic sorcery, these “very old” recordings sound very 21st century. There is a highly polished gleam to this piece that evokes images of a Blade Runner -esqe tableau replete with gleaming chrome androids, flying cars, alien shaped drones, and any number of Speculative Fiction tropes your brain can spin up. It’s hard to imagine that these were once organic sounds as this piece sounds completely synthesized. An unhinged Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schultz will get you to the general vicinity, but Phoenix XXI will take you further, much much further. Because of this high-tech sheen, this piece and others on this album stand in contrast to anything I’ve heard from him before. The organic way of stitching sounds together is a constant throughout his catalog but nothing sounds quite as “glistening” as Images nomades.

Here is the work being diffused on the St. Petersburg Acousmonium of all things. If the music isn’t your thing, that’s fine… but at least geek out on the sound system rig (man)!

The second longer work is Machin de machine, dedicated to Conlon Nancarrow. This is yet another feast for the ears. An Acousmatic drum solo perhaps? Maybe, but (insert favorite drummer here) would need to be neurally linked to a hallucinogenic stew to even come close to this. The dedication makes total sense as no human, augmented or otherwise would ever be able to play this.

The third piece, Perpetuum mobile (Pluies fantômes) acts as a companion piece to Phoenix XXI and everything I mentioned above can be carried over to this towering monolith of the George Jetson age. Taken together, these 3 pieces provide roughly 35 minutes of aural astonishment. At this point, I certainly wouldn’t criticize you for ending the journey since your head would surely be busting with sounds and images… however, if your ears have the gumption and the backbone to continue, there are nine shorter works each dedicated to another Acousmatic composer. Even without knowing who the dedications were on some of these (had to check the liner notes) these shorter works succeeded for me and taken as a whole, this second half of the album is very much the equal of the first. If anything, the general mood is darker, and the concise nature of each work can barely contain the ideas that are explored within.

Images nomades is an exhausting, exhilarating, and highly rewarding listening experience. The fact that Francis Dhomont, who is now in his mid-nineties and is still advancing this sonic art form is a gift that should not be taken lightly. He is considered a giant in this field and rightfully so.

Images nomades is an exhausting, exhilarating, and highly rewarding listening experience.

Editor’s Corner

David Olds, The WholeNote, no. 26:5, February 7, 2021

I suppose the best place to start is with old friends. During my tenure as host and producer of Transfigured Night (1984-1991) at CKLN-FM, I became interested in the field of electronic music, to the extent of becoming a founding member of the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC). On a trip to Montréal in 1986, for a conference that led to the establishment of that national organization, I met and became friends with a number of movers and shakers in that rarified field, including Jean-François Denis, who went on to found the internationally renowned empreintes DIGITALes (electrocd.com). At time of writing, the Montréal-based label has 171 releases featuring the most distinguished practitioners of electroacoustics, acousmatics and musique concrète from around the world. While at CKLN, I commissioned radiophonic works from a dozen composers, one of the most successful of which was Figures de la nuit / Faces of the Night by Francis Dhomont. Since the late 1940s working with magnetic wire recorders in Paris – one of the first exponents of what Pierre Henry would later call musique concrète – Dhomont has been a pioneer of electroacoustic composition, and has worked exclusively in fixed media (ie magnetic tape and its digital progeny) since the 1970s. From 1978 until 2004, Dhomont split his time between France and Québec, where he taught for 16 years at the Université de Montréal. I am pleased to see, as witnessed by the recent CD Images nomades (IMED 20167), that at the age of 94 Dhomont is still active in his studio in Avignon, France. This release includes three recent works – a particular favourite is Perpetuum mobile (Pluies fantômes) – plus a cycle of [9] shorter tributes to friends and colleagues such as composers Bernard Parmegiani and Jonty Harrison he calls Ami-versaires – composed between 2002 and 2020. This and the dozen or so discs of Dhomont’s music available from empreintes DIGITALes confirm him not only as a pioneer in the field, but also as a master of his craft.

… as a master of his craft.

Review

Antonis N Frangos, To Periodiko, January 16, 2021

Ο μονόφθαλμος Γάλλος συνθέτης ηλεκτροακουστικής μουσικής Francis Dhomont ηχογράφησε πρόσφατα το έργο “Images nomades” το οποίο αποτελείται από δυο μάλλον διαφορετικά στιλιστικά μέρη ιδίας χρονικής διάρκειας: το πρώτο αποτελείται από τρεις παλιότερες abstrait δουλειές, το δεύτερο αφιερώνει τα εννιά κομμάτια του σε αντίστοιχες μουσικές επετείους διαφόρων συνθετών. Υπάρχουν κατά κάποιο τρόπο «ρυθμικά μοτίβα» -διαφοροποιήσεις στην πυκνότητα και την ένταση του ήχου που συγκεντρώνεται σε clusters, με ακούσματα βροχής και με αναμόρφωση της τονικότητας και των αντηχήσεων. Ούτως, έχουμε καθαρά έργα χωρίς συμβολισμούς αλλά και έργα γεμάτα μεταφορές στην ποίηση, τη λογοτεχνία, τη ψυχανάλυση κτλ.

Thus, we have pure works without symbolism but also works full of metaphors in poetry, literature, psychoanalysis, etc.

Recensione

Piergiuseppe Lippolis, Music Map, January 15, 2021

Images nomades, appena uscito per Empreintes DIGITALes , è il decimo album in studio di Francis Dhomont, artista francese e figura di riferimento a livello non soltanto nazionale per la musica elettroacustica e acusmatica, così come per musique concrète e computer music. Images nomades si compone di dodici brani: i primi tre sono lavori definiti “astratti” dallo stesso autore, perché la musica, nella sua forma più pura, è oggetto e scopo della produzione stessa, mentre i successivi nove sono tributi a colleghi, con tanto di citazioni più o meno implicite ai loro lavori. Ad aprire sono le evoluzioni di Phoenix XXI, i cui suoni convergono idealmente verso un centro, come spinti da una forza centripeta, e le ritmiche fantasy di Machin de machine, ispirata dalle produzioni di Conlon Nancarrow. La prima parte è completata da Perpetuum mobile, parte dello stesso progetto di cui l’opener fa parte, ma segnata da un incedere decisamente più armonico e melodico di Phoenix XXI. La parte successiva, invece, è trascinata dalle allucinazioni di Happy New Half-Century, Adrian, con i suoni che evocano il rumore di una sirena, Petit souper magazine, il cui disordine trova una soluzione solamente nel finale, e la successiva Le flux des sons, vibrante e scandita dallo sfrecciare incessante di alcuni elementi musicali, prima di un completo riassorbimento nel tessuto principale. Images nomades è un’altra collezione di piccole chicche di musica elettroacustica, realizzate da uno dei maestri del genere: un lavoro prezioso per tutti gli appassionati di queste sonorità.

Images nomades is another collection of small gems of electroacoustic music, made by one of the masters of the genre: a valuable work for all fans of these sounds.