Review

François Couture, AllMusic, April 23, 2003

There are few women in the world of academic electroacoustics. Monique Jean is obviously acutely aware of that and she uses her position to push forward the work of other women (instrumentalists, authors) and occasionally tackle women-related issues. Her first solo album culls pieces composed between 1997 and 2001. 13’13 pour voix défigurées (13’13” for Defaced Voices) puts the words of Hélène Cixous into the mouths of five actors. Their voices are treated and choreographed into an acousmatic ballet that evokes the music of Francis Dhomont (with whom Jean has studied) but never reaches his level of warmth, remaining an object of cold estheticism. The same cannot be said about Danse de l’enfant esseulée (Dance of the Lonely Child). Voiceless, this piece shows again the strong influence of Dhomont in the way sounds move in the stereo field. Here, childish movements are not only academic transpositions, they vibrate in their own dimension, especially near the end of the piece where a mock-waltz is sketched. Figures du temps is very different, both in form and in sound. A triptych, it pairs elements of communication with a sense of disappearance, loss. In the first part, the voice of a news anchor repeats endlessly thestory of Algerian rape victims abandoned by their families in the name of honor. The second movement pairs words by Denise Desautels with the treated improvisations of bassist Joëlle Léandre (Marie Trudeau, once of Wondeur Brass and Justine, also supplies electric bass and stick samples on most of the other pieces). low Memory #2, a work for bassflute, piccolo and four-channel tape, concludes the set, featuring flutist Claire Marchand. Jean’s music doesn’t always escape the traps of academic composition, but when it does it develops its own personality and manages to touch both the heart and the intellect. French-deaf listeners will miss someof its impact, but not all of it.

… manages to touch both the heart and the intellect.

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