Vito Camarretta, Chain DLK, May 25, 2015

Two years after the excellent Palimpsestes, empreintes DIGITALes offers another interesting collection of outputs for domes of directional loudspeakers, which can render the illusion of multidimensional sounds by means of stereophonic systems, by Prof Normandeau to more demanding followers of electroacoustic music. It includes five long impressive pieces that can reasonably be considered monumental as the composer acts as a sort of architect who erects sonic cathedrals: the opening La part des anges (2011, 12) sounds like a glimpse and an exploration inside a seraphic dimension, where hiccups of electricity, hazy steams and piercing frequencies are the set for angelic choirs, even if the slow sonic evaporation as well as the title refers to so-called “angels’ share,” the volatile part of aging alcohol that slowly evaporates through the walls of barrels; the resounding chiming bells on the following Kuppel (2005-06, 14) comes from the bells he recorded in the Markplaz in Karlsruhe (Germany) and the combination of its hypnotical tolls with other two recordings — the noises of urban tramways and the ones coming from a squeaking door close to the studio where he was working at the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe — could let you think that Robert managed to grab the breathe of that German city. The interactions of breathe, saxophone and sinister dins, that suddenly explodes in electrical storms which manage to emphasize the sense of tragedy, on the catchy Pluies noires (meaning “Obscure Rains”) got inspired by the theatre play Blasted by Sarah Kane, for which Robert composed the music ina stage direction by Brigitte Haentjens in 2008: such an ominous title refers to the pauses in the play that he rendered by means of the four seasonal stormy “explosions” (spring rain, summer rain, fall rain and winter rain) while having the tragic events that occurred in Bosnia in his own mind, so that he didn’t focus on the typical idea of abstract purification related to rain, but rather to the fact that “all these rains can hardly wash the darkness of the human soul at war.” The most recent piece of this collection, Hamlet-Machine without Actors (2014) is another composition he made for a stage by Brigitte Haentjens of the play Hamletmachine (1979) by Heiner Müller: the track, a shorter version of the original score which lasted one hour and fifteen minutes that got inspired by another work by Normandeau (Hamlet-Machine with Actors, which, as you can easily guess, incorporated the voices and the sounds of the actors of the play!), succeeds in describing the main theme of the play, that is “the oppression of man by the society, the representation of taboos — including sexual ones — through the show and the end of art.” The final Baobabs (2012-13) is mainly base on human voices: even if I’m not a fan of this kind of art, the adaptation of the acousmatic piece Le renard et la rose (1995), consisting of five movements (Babbling and rhythm; Nostalgia and timber; Anger and dynamic; Lassitude and space; Serenity and texture) by Prof Normandeau deserves to be listened.

… the composer acts as a sort of architect who erects sonic cathedrals…