electrocd

Review

Tom Sekowski, The WholeNote, no. 11:5, February 1, 2006

empreintes DIGITALes here presents the DVD-Audio format debut of two Canadian composers whose electroacoustic works have won awards the world over. Always looking forward, their music is as challenging as it is rewarding.

Robert Normandeau has a much denser overall approach to his own work. His pieces seem to be bathed in a thick soup which is as tasty as it is sometimes difficult to digest. Puzzles begins with the title composition, which is made up of various audio elements that fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Do they really fit though? Over the course of about 6 minutes, we’re confronted with various vocal samples, creaking doors, hammer blows. All of these pieces are entrenched with a drilling, mechanical beat.

Perfectly suited to the composer’s acousmatic diffusion techniques, the 5.1 Audio Surround mix makes all the difference. Sound percolates from every corner of the room, making your head spin at break-neck speeds. Starting off Eden is a lovely, serene Vietnamese vocal, which then is replaced by loops of music, stretching into eternity. While an angry voice repeats demands on Hamlet-Machine with Actors, the piece is further coloured by drill presses, screams of agony and bubbling, gurgled noise formations. Momentous and densely populated with new, brave ideas, Puzzles is a journey that should be reserved for only the truly adventurous explorers of new sound worlds.