Roger Batty, Musique Machine, July 24, 2019

Accord ouvert is the debut album from Belgium based electroacoustic / acousmatic / musique concrète composer Sophie Delafontaine. The CD album/digital download servers up six tracks that dart between mysteriously unsettling, playful & bizarre, and inventive & daring — all to create a real sonic roller-coaster ride of a release.

Sophie Delafontaine was born in Switzerland in the late 1980s. At the age of twenty she decided to leave her home to move to Belgium where she studied acousmatic composition at the Conservatoire royal de Mons, she gained her master’s degree in 2014- and since she has been composing work that follows links / connections between acousmatic music and contemporary dance.

The six pieces come from between 2013 & 2018 — and each lasts between the seven and fourteen-minute mark, with an album total runtime of sixty-three minutes. Things begin in wonderful dizzying and unbalancing manner with 2015’s Ondiésop — which moves between hovering drone rises created by reverberant bell, creepily bounced & modified voices, and field recording of seagulls, waves and water. Later on, we have the decidedly unsettling & un-nerving Ressort spiral — this 2014 piece brings together winding down & up music boxes, ticking & tocking clocks/ machinery, with sheared & stretched French chatter — all to create a wonderful nightmarish & surreal atmosphere.

Though-out the release Delafontaine highlights both her flair for creating both unbalancing moodiness and sonic playfulness- with each of the six works showing these two talents in a fairly even balance. I guess as not been a French speaker myself, some of the more dialogue-heavy moments here are lost a little on me, but these never last too long — and when they are present she adds in other elements to the mix to create — uneasy, playful-ness or a mixture of the two.

Accord ouvert is a brave and decidedly varied debut release where you really don’t know where you’ll spin off, or dip into next. It shows Delafontaine as a very arty and focused sonic magpie, collection sound elements — be it field recordings, modified instruments / tones, or voices — into a decidedly spell-bind sonic experience.

… a very arty and focused sonic magpie, collection sound elements […] into a decidedly spell-bind sonic experience.