Jeremy Keens, Ampersand Etcetera, no. 2001_20, December 1, 2001

The four tracks on Gobeil’s disk have been well received in competitions around the globe, and are each based around narrative - personal or literary. One of the difficulties of this form of music, other than the complexity in trying to describe it, is the piercing punctuation - a tendency to signal the start or end of passages by loud, aggressive noises (a subcategory of the overall interest in wild volume changes). Gobeil uses this dramatic underlining extensively - which can get annoying, but does give the disk a unity, as some of the sounds (door slamming, bangs) are used across the tracks.

Derrière la porte la plus éloignée… combines and manipulates sounds from a trip to Italy into an abstraction: a throb, breathing, violin and whirlys /bang/ a susurrus, train, tones, violin, dripping water increasing, throbbing /bang/ walking, drips and horn getting loud /loud passage/ trains (probably) seguing into tones / rhythmic elements, walking, talking, tones, increasing breathing, ringing noises build into a big visceral accretion of sound, then a little ringing and fade. A dense dreamlike Italy. The punctuation is even stronger in Projet Proust where sentences from the opening of the novel are read, accompanied by light electroacoustics, then followed by concretions which are probably related to the text, the punctuation playing the role of a full-stop at the end of an auditory sentence. Some sounds are domestic - a kitchen, with water running, a choir in a church, insects or a train - while others are tones, whistles, crackles and bangs. The piece flows smoothly, and complements my own memories of those early sections - balancing the comfortable domestic with Marcel’s night fears.

Following the literary theme, Point de passage is a version of WellsTime Machine and again matches my memory. Throughout there is a rhythm and tone from machinery, mainly steam, reflecting the steam age that produced the novel. The piece swings between an active mechanical period with knocking and sirens into a more lyrical central section, chatterings and vents, soft tones, rainfall and flutes, and finally another noisey building of buzzing machines and jackhammers, rising and falling to a slammed conclusion. Nuit cendre adapts Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth and isn’t at all like Rick Wakeman! It swoops between quiet subterranean rumbles or slow drones and tones into bangings and dense bellringing or distressed voices, sounds rising and falling like stalagmites and stalactites, excitement and awe at the underground landscape. Complex and difficult works, these 4 pieces create a strong sense of place and narrative, and deserved the awards they won.

… these 4 pieces create a strong sense of place and narrative…