Review

Ben Kettlewell, Alternate Music Press, April 1, 1997

The small French-Canadian label known as empreintes DIGITALes has quietly become one of the world’s best sources for some of the most forward-thinking experimental music of recent years.

This album contains 25 pieces commissioned by the label which all share the same time frame of 3 minutes in length. Composers from Québec, Canada, the United States, and Mexico participated. The music was commissioned to underline the 1990 New Music America festival in Montréal.

The concept of the album is to merge popular song form (of a three-minute duration) with the concept of the video clip. This reactualizes electroacoustics by taking it out of the traditional concert hall and transporting it to the world of media, of clips, of miniatures, of the immediate… while still preserving the artistic integrity that electroacoustics demands today. The disc is in itself, a microcosm, presenting a synthesis of new electroacoustic creation as it is practiced in all its forms. Thus, presenting an opportunity to visit and revisit some of North America’s most dynamic composers.

The album is a wonderful compilation of cutting edge new music. Artists include Michel A Smith, Craig Harris, Jean-François Denis, Francis Dhomont, Charles Amirkhanian, as well as others.

John Oliver’s Marimba Dismembered is a haunting dirge written for Guatemala’s national instrument; a cry for an end to the genocide of the Mayan people. It exudes oblique melodies and harmonies, and goes well beyond your clinical academic style music.

One of albums highlights is Point-virgule by Jean-François Denis. The timbres you hear were sampled and then edited and manipulated in Denis’ studio. Point-virgule was developed through five approaches, enunciated one after the other, and concludes with an exclamation point. It develops in an irregular meter providing metric vitality and dynamism.

Another standout in this collection is a piece by Roxanne Turcotte called Minisérie. Its comprised of three short scenarios without words or images. The sound environment of a chase through different aspects of Alfred Hitchcock’s universe; the cinematic flavor of a Werner Herzog soundtrack, it creates a cinematic construction for the ears, and the imagination.

In summary this is a great introduction to electroacoustic music, and establishes empreintes DIGITALes as one of the most viable and important experimental labels of the nineties.

empreintes DIGITALes has quietly become one of the world’s best sources for some of the most forward-thinking experimental music of recent years.

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