Ducks like routines. So do cats, and so do people. Because our minds arrange gathered information to make sense, not dissonance, it’s hard to picture hypertextual literature holding sway over traditional narratives in our life. Improvisational jazz, the musical equivalent to hypertext, suggests that e-novelists do have a place in the hierarchy; it’s one of the best methods of showing an instrument’s power of expression. René Lussier takes improvisation to its extreme, because he either has no melody stuck in his head, begging to surface — or else he has the strength to squash it.
In 13 tracks on acoustic guitar, Lussier proves to be an artist who noodles, with no melodic aim except to make his music more random than his life. These improvisations grab your attention because they are so baseless, grounded in ideas that cannot be sustained for more than twenty seconds apiece. In many ways, Lussier’s work sounds like the efforts of a child who picked up a guitar and hit the strings until he got bored — multiplied by twenty. The hour-long CD is definitely a notch above that, though, because you never want to tear it out of the CD player and step on it. You go with the long spaces in the fifth improvisation, and never check to see if the disc is over, because you have a strong gut feeling that the payoff will be worth it. By improvisation #13, you’ve skipped an hour’s worth of sitcoms to follow a guitar’s wandering conversations into new countries of musical theory. That makes Lussier a worthy listen for those who don’t want John Cage’s head on a plate.