Review

Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews, May 5, 2001

Louis Dufort was born in Montréal 1970, which makes him one of the younger diffusers of an acousmatic French-flavored tradition of quite an impressive age by now! He has an inclination towards other disciplines as well, like painting, cinema and contemporary dance. He is currently occupied with working for the Marie Chouinard Contemporary Dance Company, being the composer of the choreographic music for Le cri du monde (2000).

It is very nice indeed to welcome younger composers into electroacoustics, ensuring that the idiom is furthered and developed, never to fall back entirely on past evolvements, but always to seek new ways of sonic expression to intrigue the mind and the imagination, not least the emotions.

Transit (1998) commences with a brittle, vibrating commotion of glassy sounds, fondling your perception, soon to be joined by rougher murmurs and gliding forces, again abruptly stopping, only to let little specks of sounds tickle… The composer indicates that this piece makes use of “continuous discontinuity”, which pretty well describes the overall scheme of the events, with suddenly receding and gradually reappearing auditive events.

A lot of motion is in motion, i.e. sections of motion move inside a larger movement, with inserted static fields, an example readily recognizable at 4:37, where Stockhausenesque Kurzwellen-static engulfs the listener and completely obliterates the line of events that preceded it. At 5:35 an even more static static emerges, sounding much like distortion from an overloaded speaker; a sort of standing-wave event. Just a little later sounds resembling voices or choirs emerge, inside the standing wave phenomena. It’s quite attractive, connecting back to sound pioneers like Rune Lindblad and his noise works from the early 1970s (unknown to most). All of a sudden all this gives way to pure musique concrète, or even soundscape music, with the sound of the wind on the microphone, steps through some kind of forest underbrush, with the added pleasures of brittle sounds of glass; maybe glass beads. The winds hiss; you feel the summery atmosphere – as if you’re sitting under the canopy of a weeping willow, hidden from the outside world, as the wind sweepsthrough the hanging leafy branches, and you hear someone walking by, down towards the lake, where a canoe is waiting. Impressionism!

I doubt whether Dufort had any specific plan when he composed this work. I think he worked intuitively – and that’s just fine! I live my whole life intuitively, and I have survived so far… It’s a very imaginative piece, Transit – and the title does allow for a great freedom of expression, which is why the concluding vision of a helicopter taking of inside a swarm of circling angels isn’t out of place at all!

Pointe-aux-Trembles (1996) starts with a heavy panning of screams and voices, very soon loosing out to a single line of meditative inclinations, soaring in a linearity towards the horizon, becoming the horizon; you in the middle of your world, looking around… Sweeping events, fluctuating between transparency and dense fog, appear; then disappear into a near-silence (even with earphones).Dufort’s poetic introduction goes: Prologue; Introspection; Elle (She); Lumière (Light); Prière (Prayer). Night beneath the glittering refineries, time stands still, I am but a lost child on the gravel of Pointe-aux-Trembles. “Machine Mother take me.” Guttural machine-like repetitions cut like factory fears through the piece a few minutes inside it, and I get associations to Jean Schwarz’s Makinak (1994). My own experiences from the Oxelösund Steelworks at the Baltic coast rise like smoke stacks through these passages too…

Very silent pitches lead on to other ghastly machineries, where the smell of asphalt and crude oil mixes with the salty winds from the Atlantic – and you’re lost in your surviving technique, ground down to abarren industrial structure of steel and smoke and showers of glowing trajectories of welding sparks inechoing halls disappearing down hazy perspectives …

Towards the end of the piece the mind retreats from the outer world of the crude ugliness of necessity, into the inner space of nose-tip hypnosis, in a preview of a here-after to come to all, before the re-entry into the material world…

Zénith (1999) is the third piece on the CD, starting of like the collected choir of the angels, at a distance – but surely in a state of ultimate bliss… but soon the angels transform into somewhat lower beings; sparkling fairies, in and out of vision, encircling the breath of the viewer, the listener… in a fairy tale of your childhood, or in a childhood dreamscape that you were hurled into after you fell asleep when your mother read to you at the bedside… Long gone golden age… a secret landscape of the child, recurring herein this Dufort music, ever so lightly, ever so gentle, ever so… desperate (in the ears of a hopelessly grown-up adult…). A fairy comes up close, hovers at ear-level and breathes hard into your mind, an “aaaaah” of age-old proportions, smacking you at an incredulous speed through any number of dimensions, all purely spiritual – and the afterglow of bells applies a golden layer across the mindscape…until a Bardo Thödol scare-creature growls at you full-blast, but if you remain on your path you may be liberated, lifted out of this succession of deaths and births and deaths and births… fear not! The fairies gulp and hick-up as you safely pass the scary parts of your dreamscape into a more somber state, where a certain control is offered you, even in the frantic noise-layers in which the scare-creature growls at you again in an unexpected recurrence, which can’t hurt you, though, as you’ve learned. The voices of Marie Chouinard and Luc Lemay were used in the composition.

The last piece is the longest; Décap (2000) with its 24 minutes. Dufort calls it “a study for wrists and ankles”! It has to do with elasticity and contraction, and the beginning is a fearless leap into – it seems – over-amplified samples of frictional events from – maybe – balloons, taking on the guise of some kind of heavily leaking air-vent, turning, after a little while, into percussive occurrences of a plastic pop-music flair. Whispering voices, on the verge of groaning, appear all around your ears, all around your hat. The Bardo Thödol scare-creature of last piece has made it over into this work, but he is joined by the chanting voice of some kind of priest, and the percussion of buckets. Part of the music of Décap is excerpted from the music for Le cri du monde, and the voices of Marie Chouinard, Émilie Laforest and Luc Lemay were used. It is amazing how the use of language, of sheer vocalisms and consonants, can raise the experience of a sounding work like this to magnificent levels of excellence! This is definitely my favorite among the piece on this CD, even though the others are great works too – but the repetitious (and other) utilization of human vocal sounds, distorted, cut-up and refined, places this piece in a class by itself. Admittedly, vocals were used in Zénith too, but they’re applied with more sophistication here. I have a special ear for sound poetry, and reflections of that art are apparent in Décap, in an atmosphere of oral cavities, smacking lips and sprays of saliva protruding like the volcano eruptions on Jupiter’s moon Io. A point of stark listening pleasure is reached when Louis Dufort applies chorus effects to already manipulated vocal noise sounds! Far out! At times I even feel like I’m at one of the gargantuan feasts ofthe crude medieval heroes of Rabelais, digging in to the food with saliva running out of the corners of my mouth! Rock n’ roll! Or is it a case of exorcism at a village football game in Stigtomta?

A point of stark listening pleasure is reached…

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