The many sides of Francis Dhomont

Matthew McFarlane, Musicworks, no. 88, March 1, 2004

empreintes DIGITALes stands at the forefront of those leading the charge for electroacoustic music, particularly when it comes to the music of Quebec composers. This snall label, on which Francis Dhomont has many releases, has quickly become one of the most influential and prominent labels for electroacoustics in the world.

Dhomont’s latest CD is Jalons (meaning milestones). Whereas each of his previous releases had a theme, this disc of eight works spanning sixteen years fills in some of the gaps in Dhomont’s musical evolution. The first piece, entitled Vol d’Arondes (flight of swallows) is dedicated to Dhomont’s fellow electroacoustic wanderer, Annette Vande Gorne. Dhomont sets up the work as a depiction of a summer night in Provence in France. Birdlike noises are combined with the sound of a bouncing marble, a Dhomont sonic signature.

Les moirures du temps earned first prize at the Czech Musica Nova competition. It is the most abstract piece on the disc. In trying to musically express the passing of time, Dhomont uses sounds that are largely unidentifiable, shying away from any visual images the music might suggest.

The gem of the disc is Studio de nuit. Lasting only three minutes, it gives us Dhomont at his most humorous and most self-critical. The work is narrated by Dhomont and shows his work in the studio. “No, too violent,” he remarks off the top. Whenever Dhomont uses the human voice, magic results.

Lettre de Sarajevo is a dark and haunting work, an elegy for the victims of the conflict in that city. Dhomont here prefers dark, rolling and menacing sounds to the polished, beautiful bell-like tones in Studio de nuit. The work is as violent as it is dense in its construction.

A one-minute piece, L’électro, shows Dhomont at his strongest. Consisting completely of human voices repeating the word “electro,” it highlights the fantastic possibilities of electroacoustics and demonstrates Dhomont at the height of his compositional power.

… highlights the fantastic possibilities of electroacoustics and demonstrates Dhomont at the height of his compositional power.

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