Mark Vail, Keyboard, no. 17:3, March 1, 1991

Subtitled “25 instantanés électroacoustiques de trois minutes” (25 three-minute electroacoustic snapshots), this CD presents a pot-pourri of inspired, moody, and sometimes frightening music. Total running time is over 77 minutes. Too many pieces to detail here, but we’ll touch on a few outstanding ones.

Michel A Smith opens with Style de bougalou (Bougalou-like), which features some entertaining vocal (baby sighs, cries, goos, and other strange whisperings) and instrumental (only piano is familiar) samples. Smith molds these into a delightful rhythm that gradually builds into a screaming runaway train at the climax.

You’ll think Jabba the Hut has invaded your listening space when you hear Zack Settel’s SkweeitChupp. The humorous, nonsense speaking narrator, who often sounds Russian, is interspersed with sometimes fun, sometimes macabre vocal and FM sounds. Altemately cute and scary.

Associations libres (Free Associations), by Gilles Gobeil with René Lussier on electric guitar, comes as close as any music we’ve heard to causing instant nightmares. The cacaphony of shrieking guitar tones, sonic collisions, jungle noises, frightening machine simulations, and slamming booby traps certainly made our skin crawl. Very impressive.

Creative sampling — in both realistic and bizarrely edited forms — abounds on Électro clips. You’ll hear crowd noises, flowing water, electric trains, trucks, television newscasts, and so on — even “Where are you?” from Prince’s The Future on his Batman Motion Picture Soundtrack. The distinctively female yawn in Francis Dhomont’s Qui est là? is absolutely infectuous.

Twenty-five individual sheets — each with a black-and-white photograph on the front and a trilingual composer introduction and brief description of the corresponding piece on the rear — accompany the CD. Électro clips provides a varied taste of current trends in electroacoustic music. Besides, if you can’t stand a piece, the next one is less than three minutes away.

Very impressive.