The Cinematic Approach

Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail, June 18, 1990

Montréaler Robert Normandeau describes his latest electroacoustic works as “cinema for the ear.” That’s an apt description for a piece like Jeu; which leads off this new album from the small but sassy DIFFUSION i MéDIA company. Jeu is like the view from a camera dolly as it glides through a long and intricate tracking shot. The auditory scene changes quickly, as flickers of everyday sound jostle with quotations from Stockhausen and Perotin. Industrial sounds mingle with those of the chapel: playground noise rises through a lumberitig mass of almost pitchless sound, only to be cut-off by a pneumatic jack-hammer.

Such juxtapositions are not hard to engineer. What is difficult is to make them fuse into an integral work, as Normandeau has done. His travelogue of the hyper-real holds together through the most theatrical storms of musique concrète.

Mémoires vives applies similar tactics to a sack full of requiems, pasting tiny processed excerpts into a disorienting collage. Every sound is plundered, though very little can be recognized outright. It’s a brilliant work, and proud of its technical prowess.

But flamboyance can become a vice, as it seems to have done in Rumeurs (Place de Ransbeck). Normandeau has let the trickery run the show in this piece, which degenerates into a game of Name That Sound. But over all, this is a strong, ear-catching album.

His travelogue of the hyper-real holds together through the most theatrical storms of musique concrète.

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