Various artistsCEC-PeP / CEC 95CD / 1995
CEC-PeP / CEC 95CD / 1995
CEC-PeP / CEC 92CD / 1992
Le prisonnier du son, composed from 1972 to 1991, is narrative, a type of radio play starting with a spoken introduction. Many parts of this long work are decidedly lo-fi and even distorted, showing the technological age of the work. This is not a bad thing. Some of the thrashier bits effectively evoke a trapped sensation. Even though divided into small chunks, the whole composition feels unified.
24 préludes à la vie however is a mixed bag of music. These are preludes leading to the next prelude to the next to the life at the end of the disc. Most of these 24 preludes are delicious and sometimes mysterious. The textures and arrangements are gorgeous. But a few pass with little notice, like moments of staring into space: all except the last are under three minutes long. I particularly like Éveil, the sneaking-in-the-dark mood of Le couple, and the scary monsters of Danse de l’Ombre.
Short works have an inherent charm, if for nothing else than if you don’t like a piece, at least it will be over soon. But rarely do short works become ambient and flow. When strung together, as they are on this disc, the overall effect of these works is abrupt and shapeless. The individual compositions become part of an incoherent mass, a succession of outbursts. Sequencing music like this is like writing a poem by using only one-syllable words or like listening to an athlete speak. It is the wrong medium, the wrong milieu for these pieces. These compositions would be much more compelling, either a respite for the ears or a sudden wake-up call, if they were tucked between longer, more fluid compositions. Or as the title suggests, these works would be better applied as preludes rather than as a succession of discrete and often poorly-related units. It is difficult to pick out pieces that are appealing and avoid ones that aren’t successful.
Nonetheless, I do love this disc. Michel Chion is a master of texture, and I delight in immersing myself in his subtle, unpredictable patterns. I appreciate the absurd touches he plants throughout his works, the crazed voices, the sudden distorted crashes. His music is wild, jumpy, and then achingly lyrical.
Although this disc is less than ideally arranged, Michel Chion’s music is always rich with gems and a twisted hint of alien humour.
This disc crept up on me. During the first couple of listens, I took little notice. The music made no impression. But with a few more tries, this disc grew more and more compelling. I now find it nearly indispensable and among the best acousmatic music I have heard. Patrick Ascione’s style is acousmatic and in the same family as that of Francis Dhomont and Michel Chion. Perhaps my earlier disinterest was due to the distracted way I now listen to most music. I almost never make time to lie still and listen. I have lost touch with my old habit of meditative listening, the type of listening this music deserves.
The three compositions on this disc each last twenty minutes and longer. Lune noire starts mechanically but sensually. Despite their metallic quality, the timbres sound voice-like. Sur champ d’azur is a panoramic landscape, painted not photographed, a rendition rather than a document. Its range is vast. Valeurs d’ombre finishes the disc in a more sombre, sweeping mood. It is a beautiful piece. However, it ends too abruptly with no feeling of cadence.
Mr. Ascione describes his approach to composition as painterly. He juxtaposes sonic colours as an abstract expressionist would juxtapose coloured pigments. Like an acousmatic Jackson Pollock, he composes massive, intricate textures on a wall-sized canvas. In space, time, and in orchestration, the music is huge and richly complex. Two speakers constrict these three works. They stubbornly demand a concert hall, multiple channels, and darkness. To fake a deeper space, I recently listened to the disc over headphones, but with the sound also coming out over stereo speakers. Then the higher frequencies flew about my head while the bass notes resonated from farther away. This arrangement gave me a better sense of the musical space of these compositions.
The packaging by empreintes DIGITALes is, as usual, complete and attractive.