Michael Draine, Audion, no. 23, November 1, 1992

Two award winning electroacoustic compositions commissioned by the Société Radio-Canada explore issues of spirituality and mortality with markedly different, though equally compelling, results. Using the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis as a metaphor for today’s environmental perils, Michel-Georges Brégent presents his sweeping, complex Atlantide as a ‘radiophonic alarm… to draw people out of their daily lethargy’. Names of ancient civilizalions, deities, and holy texts are combined lo form the mystical language central to the piece. The rapid brass and woodwind ostinatos and fluent female vocals suggest an imagined Philip Glass opera sung by Stella Vander, while the dense mix of field recordings, world music influences, and ethereal electronic sounds tring to mind a roomful of shortwave radios tuned to broadcasts from different historical eras. Walter Boudreau couples visceral high-tech orchestration with Raôul Duguay’s dramatic text for Golgot(h)a, a monody of Christ’s suffering on the cross. Reference points include Olivier Messiaen’s blaslingly apocalyptic Et Expecto Ressurectum Morfuorum, Peter Frohmader, and Magma’s guttral vocal stylings. Basing the music upon a four-voice response by 16th century Spanish composer Luis de Vittoria, Boudreau counterpoints brass, percussion and organ against sampled solo voice and choir with a refreshing sense of proportion (a rare quality in the electroaoustic field). Atlantide and Golgot(h)a constitute two of the most emolionally cathartic works in the computer music genre I’ve yet encountered, and thus their appeal should extend beyond the academic circle much of today’s technologically avant-garde music is targeted at.