Review

Frank Koustrup, Contact!, no. 10:2, March 1, 1997

This disc crept up on me. During the first couple of listens, I took little notice. The music made no impression. But with a few more tries, this disc grew more and more compelling. I now find it nearly indispensable and among the best acousmatic music I have heard. Patrick Ascione’s style is acousmatic and in the same family as that of Francis Dhomont and Michel Chion. Perhaps my earlier disinterest was due to the distracted way I now listen to most music. I almost never make time to lie still and listen. I have lost touch with my old habit of meditative listening, the type of listening this music deserves.

The three compositions on this disc each last twenty minutes and longer. Lune noire starts mechanically but sensually. Despite their metallic quality, the timbres sound voice-like. Sur champ d’azur is a panoramic landscape, painted not photographed, a rendition rather than a document. Its range is vast. Valeurs d’ombre finishes the disc in a more sombre, sweeping mood. It is a beautiful piece. However, it ends too abruptly with no feeling of cadence.

Mr. Ascione describes his approach to composition as painterly. He juxtaposes sonic colours as an abstract expressionist would juxtapose coloured pigments. Like an acousmatic Jackson Pollock, he composes massive, intricate textures on a wall-sized canvas. In space, time, and in orchestration, the music is huge and richly complex. Two speakers constrict these three works. They stubbornly demand a concert hall, multiple channels, and darkness. To fake a deeper space, I recently listened to the disc over headphones, but with the sound also coming out over stereo speakers. Then the higher frequencies flew about my head while the bass notes resonated from farther away. This arrangement gave me a better sense of the musical space of these compositions.

The packaging by empreintes DIGITALes is, as usual, complete and attractive.

Like an acousmatic Jackson Pollock, he composes massive, intricate textures…

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