David Berezan is a notorious and well acclaimed Canadian electroacoustic composer. Teaching at the University of Manchester, where he also founded Mantis: a loudspeakers orchestra designed to perform electroacoustic music, he boasts an exceptional background. Everything in his career, from his studies with legendary personalities such as Jonty Harrison up to the many residences in famous studios and institutions around the globe, becomes solid grounding which places his well rounded, and clear aesthetic statements in the form of beautiful compositions that display all the skills and craft behind the sculpting of each sound.
Cycle nautique is by all means no different from his other records. Released like the previous ones on Empreintes DIGITALes, a label that seriously needs no presentation being home for the most iconic electroacoustic composers in history (Denis Smalley, Francis Dhomont, Åke Parmerud, Michel Chion to name a few), this work is straight walking the path to become a modern classic.
The album is mostly a collection of compositions produced 2011 and 2017, bound together by the reference to the sea world. Boats, ships, docks and the unexplored underwater depths blend together to give us an all-inclusive overview of the different aspects of the marine sound, and the many diverse and well defined moments we go through while listening provide us with abstract perceptions that feel somehow dystopian but, holding strong bonds to the sound sources, do not result in a proper Utopia.
The use of high quality, crispy and fresh sound materials together with David’s undoubted skill in the use of granular synthesis, keep his work unsullied, untouched by popular culture, hip musical tricks or references to a particular music wave or scene. What we listen to is a true and pure sound art piece, perfect in his balance. A fashionable and timeless evergreen, like a tailor-made suit. But Cycle nautique is not only an exceptionally well-composed work, with an interesting distribution of spectral components, a good balance of nice and full sound washes, overwhelming ambiences and sparse constellations — it is also an impressive demonstration of good spatial distribution.
Throughout this work, David plays with different planes of proximity and rapidly shifts between them integrating both heavily processed sound materials and plain field recordings. Even listening over only a pair of stereo loudspeakers we can appreciate the very complex sound environment he creates and the way we feel completely immersed, and I can’t dare imagining how empowered these compositions would sound by being performed over more complex speaker systems for spatialization.
A special mention would go to my favourite piece of the batch, Offshore. A great example of processing acoustic instruments’ sounds, being in fact constructed entirely with bass clarinet recordings of Marij van Gorkom and turned into streams, winds and far vessels buffs, then into stones clattering and clinking together. And again with pointy bio-luminescent creatures inhabiting the bottom of the sea, while sonars and morse signals deploy communication among the humans exploring that darkness.