electrocd

Review

Justin Kownacki, Splendid E-Zine, July 21, 2004

The minimalist electronica movement probably appeals to the deep thinkers and armchair existentialists of the world, the ones who claim to find patterns in raindrops or, more precisely, who claim that such patterns could be found by anyone willing to take the time. Stéphane Roy, who has made a career of studying and teaching in the fields of electroacoustics and audio perception, might take that time. A Montréal native who’s spent an extended period in St. Louis, Roy seems as unlikely to provide a backing track for an audio book on chaos theory as he is to score a David Fincher movie, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t qualified. Methodical yet unpredictable, his challenging and sometimes semi-sonic Migrations enchants as it evolves, becoming something new with each passing reflection, adapting to its environment and seeming to say something different each time, while using the same set of notes.

Of course, notes is a broad description. Roy’s controlled cacophony of feedback, found noises, sequencers and abstract percussion aren’t notes, per se, but they amount to something far more expressive than simple (or even complex) melodies can usually achieve: a quasi-intellectual reaction that’s half analytical and half primal. Why else would Appartenances’ middle stanza (Roy’s compositions come in three-part movements) appeal to my inner paranoiac, suggesting the possibility of danger behind every dormant car on the parking ramp? During the third stanza, the same holographic twinge used to signify the unreality of The Matrix blinks in and out of the background as a woman speaks gravely in French, like an airline stewardess on a nonstop flight to the afterlife.

Then we’re off to the Orient Express as driven through a dolls’ house (Trois petites histoires concrètes) and a carnival in a house of flies (Masques et parades). Granted, these are my sonic descriptions, not Roy’s (his liner notes are far more acoustically explanatory), but the truth of Migrations is that everyone who hears it is likely to take away their own impression. There’s a lot of fun to be had in a disc that makes you feel like you’ve been caught up in a suspense film and a microprocessor at the same time.

… makes you feel like you’ve been caught up in a suspense film and a microprocessor at the same time.