Review

Richard di Santo, Incursion Music Review, no. 012, September 24, 2000

Acousmatic composer Ned Bouhalassa, born in France but now making his home in Montréal, has been active in the promotion and production of electroacoustic music for a number of years. Aérosol presents various works composed and recorded from 1990 through 1998, and comes packaged with liner notes on each piece by Bouhalassa himself. Sponge-like, Bouhalassa absorbs elements from a diverse array of influences (cinema, visual art, techno, environmental recordings…). His music is full of difference and variety. Each sound playfully moves through the stereo spectrum (an aeroplane in the sky, the buzzing of insects, the crackles of a digital landscape), and it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear the same sound twice. Each of these compositions take on their own themes and compositional techniques. The first, Jets, explores the idea of an automated sound projection, where sound is perceived as moving “in an almost intuitive manner.” Constamment (autoportrait) is a selfportrait expressing the artist’s anomalous memory and his state of mind on turning 37. Clearly evident in this piece is Bouhalassa’s love of techno music, for occasionally a thumping bass or a rhythmic interlude will force itself into the otherwise abstract sound environment. The next piece, Attraction, attempts to express any number of attractions in life and in art. Recordings of acoustic sources were put through the hoops of digital processing and traditional musique concrète techniques. The final piece is my favourite here. Bouffée délirante (Maddening Exhalation) is described as “an attempt to realize what has been coined ‘cinema for the ear’”. There is, as is characteristic of all these compositions, a complex array of sound sources and moods. But what I like most about this piece is the way it jumps suddenly from one “scene” to another; a smooth intonation (from a cello? a violin?) will suddenly be cut and move into a whole new sound structure, only to return back again, clumsily, at a later moment. Bouhalassa calls this a “jump-cut gesture”; these interruptions are like film montage for the ears, breaking up the narrative or moving it along. There are no words, but the sounds tell a story all on their own. This is music to provoke your imagination and make your ears tingle with excitement.

This is music to provoke your imagination and make your ears tingle with excitement.

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