Paul Donnelly, Freq, January 3, 2002

These four journeys into the realms of electroacoustic music were first created in the composer’s Montréal studio and subsequently revised into their current states. They draw on literary resources such as Proust, Jules Verne and HG Wells as well as images from Italian travel though I’m not sure that having that as background information is any help when listening, except on Projet Proust, a track where the narrative is drawn from the first pages of Swann’s Way.

For example, the partially visual images from which Derrière la porte la plus éloignée… takes its genesis are very specific, albeit images which are also rooted in sound. How then do they translate into Gobeil’s own sonic terrain? He lists “the trickling of the ‘pozzo etrusco’ in Perugia” and “the hum of the ‘vaporetto’ in Venice” among the sounds which inform the piece and, to me, they create an entirely different ambience to those realised in the composition. Whilst there are occasional ‘trickling’ or ‘humming’ sounds it is more suggestive of an unlit journey, punctuated by near and distant crashing, through a more threatening soundscape. It is never a dull one, however, and leads into his Proust influenced piece. The narrative voice of Marc Béland offers short passages amid the metallic drones and disturbances that form the territory of this track. It is described as a ‘personal reading’ of the Proust pages and, again, you can hear what you want in the sound, whether or not you are familiar with the text. At one point a ghostly choir and bells drift into the foreground only to be submerged by a welter of grinding metal. Later electronic birdsong floats past the narrator and more forlorn metals announce a distorted voice/instrument. That too is suddenly truncated as are many of the sections throughout the piece.

I suppose HG WellsThe Time Machine lends itself to the kind of ‘free adaptation’ that Gobeil has composed here on Point de passage. Again, it is a journey through a very metallic zone as the sounds speed up and slow down in a dark territory where you can not predict what will happen next. The final track Nuit cendre carries on the explorations of the previous track. The journey continues underground which, since it is an adaptation of A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, was to be expected. Gobeil constructs a threatening series of aural images and, as on all the other tracks, makes use of a variety of dynamics taking the listener from silence to dark rumblings in unfamiliar places. These troubled voyages are worth repeating because they draw the listeners in and allow them to make personal interpretations of what is happening. It may or may not correspond to your expectations or those suggested by the source material but in the end I don’t think that matters.

… a dark territory where you can not predict what will happen next.