Review

Gerald Van Waes, psychemusic.org, January 1, 2014

Sometimes it takes a while to grasp a composer’s own specific angle how he/she perceives the sonic reality and composes with it. Usually and compared to the older generations, a modern composer became much more like sound painter. For this, they also use a couple of tools of preferences of their own. Pierre Alexandre Tremblay is both active into contemporary jazz as well as into electroacoustic music. Having played bass guitar for most of his live, he also uses a laptop to enhance the sonic world. Improvisation remains important for the development of his pallet. He also is a member of two ensembles which further enhance improvisation, which is Ars Circa Musicæ (with a range from noise to free jazz, punk rock and contemporary music), and De type inconnu (a two-guitar and two-laptop duet based in Montreal), besides being part of Splice (LOOP Collective, London), and the L.F.O. Orchestra. He currently teaches composition and improvisation at the University of Huddersfield in England.

The improvisational pallet used in the first composition, La rupture inéluctable, is a combination of some slower notes of the basic instrument, the bass clarinet, played by Heather Roche, with a more emphasised louder and calmer playing. The bass clarinet is an instrument, which can also show such strongly emphasized bursts of air, which here and there are clear and power up the resonances. Especially the long notes become part of an extra resonance in the background, which is distorted with electric noise and electric vibration, a few times it is simply peeping or calming down in parts with a more natural or quiet echo.

The second piece, Le tombeau des fondeurs, is a favourite track of mine, because it combines certain enhanced sound pallets that work very well together. Used here are deep droning electric amplifications of drones mixed with percussive rods that sound a bit like a carillon with more emphasis on the side effects of the instrument. This enhanced instrument is the Bashot-Malbos piano, played by Sarah Nicolls. It is interrupted in sound, gets different, additional resonances. Further on it is mixed with church bells-alike sounds and with real piano. Here is audible an interesting interaction between sound enhancement and direct improvisation. Some ideas still come over with a certain random amount of effects at first listen, but makes sense.

The third piece, Mono No Aware, is played on the Babel table, which is another interesting experimental music instrument. It has horn-like electric-acoustic vibrational qualities. Clicking background effects are part of its sounds as well. These combinations of tones are growing slowly together. Also, more breathy and more fast-percussive vibrations are used in the evolution of its sonic and droning activity.

The fourth recording (on CD2), Still, again, is a combination of voice activity (breathing and operatic singing), directly recorded and re-processed with some interactive percussive echoes and marble-like rhythms and bass-like enhancements for the voice performance with a surrounding field of improvisations and a bass rhythm. It is like being surrounded by a basic living area of an echoing resonance field. Small piano drones and electronic tones, oscillating bass drones, like rhythms are giving the background a living entity that all feel like a comfortable enriched area for the solo voice.

The last piece, Un clou, son marteau, et le béton is basically piano with an additional world of electroacoustic enhancements. There’s the wilder and calmer contemporary piano playing and the droning electric vibrations of interference. I am still not sure what is directly coming from the piano resonance, as a sound reaction from it or not.

The liner notes mention that a part of the enhanced extras to the acoustic instruments come forth from the exploration of the relationship between the loudspeaker and the instrument. Let’s say that besides actual playing and resonance this could also includes the effects used in the recording, during the amplification, in the feedback, but even via the interruption and change of certain qualities.

Sometimes it takes a while to grasp a composer’s own specific angle how he/she perceives the sonic reality and composes with it. Usually and compared to the older generations, a modern composer became much more like sound painter.

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