In the late eighties and early nineties acousmatic art in Montréal captured international attention. Among the forerunners was a young Robert Normandeau whose music possessed a soulful enterprising intensity.
As a short-lived golden age began to fade after 1992 and the practice fell into some question, I was starting to feel very uneasy about the music outputted by Normandeau. Technical strides and artistic exploration were being made, the music was even developing a pop sensibility (which I admired), but somehow the youthful grit was beginning to fade. However, with his new CD release Clair de terre my fears for the worst have been quelled. He has recaptured that earlier intensity and most of all without turning back on the discoveries of the intervening years.
The pop sensibility is certainly still there. In fact, it smacks you in the face when you hear the opening blasts of a shakuhachi in Malina. In the minutes that follow Normandeau shows his range as a composer by weaving through an oceanic tapestry of moods and sentiments that journey far beyond contemporary or traditional conceptions of shakuhachi music with a subtlety and depth that confirms his maturity and artistry. The other works continue on a similar theme of playful interplay between recognition and departure. The powers of acousmatic art to push beyond common associations could never be more evident as they are with the music of Normandeau at his finest.