These studies, says Francis Dhomont, are “self-standing compositions prefiguring Le cri du Choucas, a long work on the world and character of Franz Kafka initiated twelve years ago.” As such, they constitute a good opportunity to enter a riveting universe of disquieting sonorities that reveal a portion of the magnificent mental picture of this 83-year old visionary, born in France but equally present and active in Québec. This is strikingly disturbing music that you wouldn’t want to give as a birthday present to an inexperienced friend. Premières traces du Choucas, dedicated to composer Hans Tutschku, starts with baffling electronic spirals. It soon turns into an even more obscure dramatization, morphing drones and modified vocal elements cooperating in an aggravating soundscape that can’t decide between idiosyncrasy and hopeful anticipation, alternating nearly immobile tendencies and samples in perennial turnaround that imply omniscience while recalling the turmoil of a psychotic brain. Brief an den Vater, based on the text of Kafka’s unsent letter to his father written in 1919, uses voices (Tutschku again plus actor Martin Engler’s) to augment the listener’s perceptivity amidst fragments of forlorn non-harmony and cacophonous injections, transforming the listening environment into an entanglement of different thoughts, most of them negative. The official commentary of this mayhem (the above-mentioned Engler) appears as a faceless, German-accented grave tone symbolizing the end of all hope, directly connected to the impossibility of knowing what the future will bring. In terms of spectacular affirmations, the conclusive À propos de K is the record’s highpoint, snippets of church choir and elongated bell resonances introducing a mixture of brutish utterance and divine stasis, bizarre units (including liquid matters, orchestral openings, human steps and ping-pong balls) becoming visible throughout. Yet it’s the black-hole quality of Dhomont’s chosen materials — instability generated via waveringly imprecise harmonies — that leaves a definitive mark on the mind. Overall, a hard to swallow but outstanding release. Headphones are a must.