Review

François Couture, AllMusic, August 1, 2001

Electroacoustic composer Dan Lander released his first CD in 1995 on the Montréal label empreintes DIGITALes. Zoo regroups four works created between 1988 and 1992. The first two are the most important, interesting and disturbing; they both address communication through the use of speech-based sound material. Talking to a Loudspeaker is a 24 minute reflection on radio. Highly entertaining and witty, it illustrates Lander’s absurd sense of humor. It opens on a series of excerpts from the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, everyone saying “Please Mister Speaker” and “Thanks Mister Speaker” (read the title of the piece again if you don’t understand why). After this introduction, the listener is taken through clichés about the weather, a staged call-in show plagued with technical difficulties, a collage of radio publicity spots — even 30 seconds of dead air. Destroy: Information Only is a lot more disturbing. A piece of audio vérité, it features friends and relatives of the composer recorded in their homes, reminiscing about a surgery he had. Over 34 minutes, their vague memories and personal anecdotes are confronted and mixed with acousmatic bits, forming an intimidating form of auto-exorcism. Failed Suicide also uses human speech as its basis, but with less interesting resutls. City Zoo / Zoo City arranges field recordings of a zoo into a loose narrative while blurring distinctions between the natural and the mechanical. Lander’s pieces require attentive listening in order to follow the discourse. His approach is highly personal, but his constant relying on words might unnerve some listeners.

Zoo
Highly entertaining and witty, it illustrates Lander’s absurd sense of humor.