… et autres utopies

Francis Dhomont

Francis Dhomont presents his intellectual preoccupations with the air of the experienced artist who is in total control of his sonic material… Earlabs, Pays-Bas

Music with a high rate of emotional value in one of the best acousmatic releases of 2007. Touching Extremes, Italie

Prix Opus 2006-07: Disque de l’année — Finaliste

Sorti le 2 novembre 2006 à Montréal, le jour du 80e anniversaire de Francis Dhomont.

  • Conseil des arts du Canada • SODEC

CD (IMED 0682)

  • Étiquette: empreintes DIGITALes
  • IMED 0682
  • 2006
  • UCC 771028068227
  • Durée totale: 77:09
  • OGpak
  • 125 mm × 125 mm × 10 mm
  • 50 g

Sur le web

Téléchargement (IMED 0682_NUM)

Notes de programme

… et autres utopies

Utopiques, ces mirages auditifs le sont assurément. Non dans le sens politique de la Cité idéale mais dans celui, étymologique, de ou-topos: qui n’appartiennent à aucun lieu, si ce n’est au domaine de l’imaginaire; créatures illusoires, donc, et ici acoustiques. Ces non-lieux sonores, ces chimères de la perception, issues de manipulations et formées d’éléments improbables, en perte d’identité, arrachés à toutes les sources audibles, sont des êtres fictifs, nés de l’invention nomade d’un rêveur.

Utopiques aussi — ne l’a-t-on pas souvent dit? — ces architectures de sons qui prétendent échapper aux codes des traditions musicales, ne tiennent pas compte de leurs impératifs et proposent à notre psyché un flux d’images mentales. Mais est-il besoin de rappeler tout cela, que nous savons fort bien? Sans doute, car en ces temps cybernétiques, qu’y a-t-il de plus nécessaire que la réalité de l’utopie?

Voici donc cinq fantasmes à écouter les yeux fermés; ils imaginent successivement le son dans l’espace, la révolte de l’homme contre sa propre nature, quelques phénomènes lumineux, un voyage symbolique et les éclats tumultueux de l’exaltation.


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Grant Chu Covell, La Folia, 1 septembre 2007

An acknowledged master — every piece here was commissioned and / or received an international award — Dhomont’s bright new empreintes DIGITALes release groups “five fantasies to be listened to with eyes closed.” It’s a mesmerizing ride. The manically voluble Here and There explores spatialization with predominantly synthesized material. Je te salue, vieil océan! folds in excerpts from Lautréamont’s The Songs of Maldoror read by Marc-Henri Boisse (in French). The few real-world sounds are immediately transformed: Chroniques de la lumière’s central movement, Artifices, concerns itself with man-made light sources, quickly dissolving a struck match’s snap and fireworks’ eruption. Transformed chorus and crowds rush through Corps et âme. Dhomont routinely applies an army of studio techniques, filtering, speed changes, but foremost, he delivers rich color and impenetrable variety. Its notes referencing departure, fleeing, exile, life and death, the most recent item, Voyage-miroir, haunts imposingly. These decidedly oneiric pieces shine. Not for the faint of heart.


Ingvar Loco Nordin, Sonoloco Record Reviews, 1 septembre 2007

Once again Empreintes DIGITALes throws a juicy bone at the howling wolf pack of sound connoisseurs out there — or, being a vegetarian, a metaphor including a basket full of fresh fall fruits and vegetables out of a long life of ecological cultivation on the Dhomont Shangri La farm would sound more fitting. Anyhow and anyway; here is a CD crammed almost to the last binary with exclusive sound art by the Maestro of them all: Francis Dhomont — who, incidentally, has left Canada to live in Avignon, France.

Dhomont’s art, basically, as I hear it, is a child of a French tradition, and there has always been a lucid and self-evident communion across the Atlantic between French and Canadian electroacoustics, hardly distinguishable, save for, perhaps, a smidgen more poetry of the transparent and elusive kind in strictly French sound art, generally, though that doesn’t apply to Dhomont’s music, which has all the poetry one can wish for. There is a whole different set of characteristics in play once you cross the border to the US. They’ve never had anything much to offer in the vein of electroacoustic poetry, except in the case of a few free-thinking sound dissidents…

As for the well-found title of this collection of electroacoustic art pieces — “…et autres utopies” — Dhomont explains in the booklet text that:

“[…] …these aural mirages […] in the etymological sense of ou-topos [belong] […] to no specific location, except for imaginary territories; [but are] creatures of illusion and, in this case, sound.”

He continues:

“These aural ‘non-lieux’, these chimeras of perception, resulting from treatments and made from unlikely parts that are losing their identity, stripped of […] any audible source, are fictional beings born out of a dreamer’s nomadic invention. […] …these sonic structures [are] attempting to avoid traditional music codes, disregarding their imperatives, and offering a stream of mental images to our psyche. […]”

Track 1. Here and There (2003) [10:09] (To Darren Copeland and David Eagle)


“[…] …a suite of short pieces aimed at the various perceptions of spatialized sounds […]”

From bar one I’m placed in a sonic jungle land, wheezing grasshoppers and grunting hippopotamuses; water in various modes of transportation and formation — and a peculiar journey in and out of mind, from the spaces within to the spaces without and back, in an altered mental guise. Echoes of a voice could be manifestations of your “I”, your elusive self, giving commands — or, in milder cases — offering suggestions.

The rather transparent sound world of this jungle gets denser, even chaotic and invasive, filling your nostrils, your oral cavity and your ears with cooling mud, that slowly petrifies and sort of embalms you — but no worries, it is only a sonic mirage that you’ve become a part of, as any good listener would.

There is an incredible richness of sounds flowing, out of Dhomont’s open hands, like was he a deity in an illustration by Gustave Doré.

Electronic faunae in the shape of unidentified monkeys, birds and insects call out, each one according to their binary species, and the notion of a one and the same origin of mirage and reality creeps upon you and lights up some kind of truth inside the illusionary place you call yourself: i.e: your SELF!

Track 2. Je te salue, vieil océan (1998, 2000-04) [14:54] (To the “disciple” and master Christian Calon)


“The ocean referred to here is the one evoked by Lautrémont in his fantastic imprecations in The Songs of Maldoror — selected excerpts are read by Marc-Henri Boisse — […] foretelling surrealist poetry. […] This is a metaphorical ocean, a maritime archetype […]”

Having just returned from the Nordic Music Days 2007, held in the town of Norrkoping, Sweden, where I attended Natasha Barrett’s 16-channel acousmatic ocean music of Trade Winds — (released on DVD Audio and CD in October 2007, on Norwegian label Aurora), containing excerpts of an interview with an old Norse sea captain — it is interesting to sail into Francis Dhomont’s oceanography!

The ingredients, sonically, are there, like a giant swell and bubbling notions, as well as the creaking of fenders or old hulls, and a sonic allusion to blasting foghorns, albeit in a dreamy, eluding manner, as if you felt the sound in fragmented memories, rather than confronting it up front.

The lingual part is initially quite naturalistic, but it undergoes several layers of alienating processes, rendering it also a dreamscape quality, in which your fantasy may roam freely, under the magical suggestions of this shaman of sounds. Dhomont has this uncanny capacity of taking a slab of reality as we know it (even though that is an illusion too, strictly speaking), slowly turning it around, making it appear before our (inner) eyes and our ears with their hidden qualities and properties on display, simultaneously making you a co-creator of visions — because, of course, in this abstract art, YOU are the artist inside the virtual halls of your mind, painting all these visions on the inside of your skull, inside the Louvre of yourself. All worlds connect to make this possible, as all things are connected, and a whole life now and many lives before, make certain visions arise from certain stimuli, like the perception-joggling sound art of Francis Dhomont… and it is ever-changing; never static — a FLOW.

Comparing Barrett’s and Dhomont’s oceanic expeditions, Dhomont’s come out much dreamier, much more estranged from the source material, but both works — Trade Winds and Je te salue, vieil océan — trigger just as many visionary events inside your receptive and dimly lit Hall of Wonders: both at the cutting edge of contemporary sound art.

Tracks 3 — 5. Chroniques de la lumière (1989, 2005) [29:12] (To Annette Vande Gorne)


“These ‘Chronicles’ are […] a personal daydream of light based on a concept by Montréal visual artist Luc Courchesne. An evocation of luminous phenomena […]”

Dhomont’s light through Lapland mist

Track 3. (Chroniques 1). Miroitements (Shimmers) [8:05]

The shimmer of light that really is audible inside this veil of mist and luminosity reminds me starkly of the 2-week trek I just made in Northern Lapland, across rock deserts and round the slopes of glaciers, for nowhere that I’ve been is the light so many-facetted as in Lapland, changing in intensity and nuances and corpus all the while, magically — just like the lucid and sometimes grainy sounds of Dhomont’s shimmer audio.

Dhomont bring jingly jangly light reflexes out of rock and water here, wringing it out of shape, as it escapes to hit a steep wall of black gneiss across the valley with the sharp ring of spear heads, breaking up the light/sound in the specter of a prism.

Yes, behind the misty, layered veils of soaring, white/gray audio a myriad of grainy bells at the threshold of perception keep sifting time and sand. Long, winding temporal shifts run like strains of incisive inkjets in and out of the cracks of old time, staining it with winding black lines, and somewhere deep in a glacial crevasse inside Miroitements I breathe down my own neck…

Track 4. (Chroniques 2). Artifices [10:24]

A sharp beginning, someone striking a match perhaps, and the cracking sound of firewood being cut apart: someone building a fire — but all this just remotely comprehensible, with a lot of imagination. A rhythmic sound keeps tracking along at different levels, and percussive as well as woody, naturalistic — concrete — sounds, are more apparent here than in earlier works on this CD. The rhythms keep building, only to fall apart, and children’s voices form a sound that is equally as fit to dance in Dhomont’s music as any other sound. The sounds of trees breaking up and falling — splintering — remind me of Swedish sound artist Hanna Hartman and especially a new CD of hers called Ailanthus. You hear sounds of trees falling and/or splintering throughout Hanna’s CD, but especially in a piece entitled (my translation): Felling Big Trees Is Associated With Risks!

Dhomont’s Artifices evolves from the tree splintering towards and through more sophisticated sounds that pick up warp speed and form curvatures through all the time and space there is, in effect catching up with itself in whisking, whispering, wheezing and finally rickety racketing and bouncing motions, slowly embellished in bellish beauty and hypnotic roundabout connotations in the periphery of mind: beautiful; full measures of beauty! Light whispers out of the prisons of diamonds or reflecting off of the gaze of an 18th century princess at Versailles.

Track 5. (Chroniques 3). Météores (Meteors) [10:43]

The title justly refers to celestial mechanics, as the sounds wisp by in cometic velocity, like tumbling rocks of loneliness in a sordid void — while close-by showers of sharp edged debris cut the moment in splintering diamond litter, all but surrounding the Planetary Dream Collector that Terry Riley sent out, and whom desolation embraces, from eon to eon: a spirit kindred to the depressed robot Marvin of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy…
The music continues in a glassy, bead-like manner, thousands of glass spheres falling onto a time made of marble and through a space lost in amnesia, so vulnerable, so untouchable, so unaware if itself! A mischievous game between Here and Now!

Track 6. Voyage-miroir (2004) [14:55] (To Robert Normandeau, the composer and friend)


Voyage-miroir is a replica of …mourir un peu (1984 — 87) and uses — in reverse order — the same themes (departure, fleeting, exile) since this mobility has always been with me. […] …the form selected […] is the wave […] …the ebb and flow, an image ‘always reinitiated’ of our desires, actions, experiences and hopes. Of life itself, and of death.”

Infinitely small occurrences on the sonic topography of Voyage-miroir make me think of something Edgard Varèse once said, about sound being an atmospheric disturbance, and music being organized sound. In this case of Dhomont, these disturbances evoke the innermost energies of imagination, shifting as you listen, and changing apparitions each time you listen again: immensely rich, bursting with hypothetic worlds frozen at the horizon of events, just waiting to materialize in someone’s visions: those are some of the characteristics of Francis Dhomont’s oeuvre; Gaudi’s Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus and Dali’s melting clocks; architecture as frozen music; time crumpling and dissolving into the jerky mysteries of quantum mechanics, where someone breathes a sigh of relief and sits back in an armchair at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe…

The wave motions in Voyage-miroir that Dhomont described arrive on many levels in the music, and recede on just as many, sometimes retorting to brief moments of real natural water touching a shore at nightfall, but instantly transforming into rock-clattering thunder and desperate, compressed and sped-up multi-dimensional cries of anguish from entities lost in time as well as space, with an eternity of all aspects to keep on losing themselves in.

The sonic havoc is relieved by the utter-most beauty of many-layered drones that fall out like solar flares and recede back into the crunching melting pot at the center of thought once more. It’s both beautiful and ominous; someone else at the center of everything calling the shots, and no matter how many times you look over your shoulder; sometime, sooner or later, Elvis Presley’s Flaming Star will call upon you to end this one and start another. (Life)

As the piece comes to a close, events calm down into a fluttering, grainy, moraine rattling, touching upon the one really visible aspect of matter and matters: erosion.

Track 7. Corps et âme (2001 — 02) [7:40] (To the enthusiasm of Florence Gonot and Alexandre Yterce)

According to Dhomont, this work deals with the dualism of body and soul, which, however, can be seen as two sides of the same thing — and he also says that the piece is self-reflective in a sense. The piece also, says Dhomont, reflect the expression “body and soul”, i.e., to involve oneself completely in something. Let’s leave it at that, and listen.

Applause at some big event recedes into an alien soaring notion, into which are introduced acidic, acrid and rancid sonorities — threatening, in a way — until the sounding objects stand out of the background and gain their own states of tumbling density: the flapping of angel wings and the grumbling of outcasts of the Earth: vain concretisms in an existence constructed om illusion and imaginary imagery. Beautiful and pensive, like this falling asleep and this waking up routine of our bodies, our prisons of gravity and mass. As they say about the body: Never leave home without it!


Jos Smolders, Earlabs, 26 juin 2007

Francis Dhomont discovered, separately from the experiments of Pierre Schaeffer, the potential of electroacoustic music while working with magnetic wire. Since 1963 he only composes electroacoustic music. More than 40 years of experience shows itself in the compositions of course. His music is more balanced and not as turbulent as much of the music of younger composers.

Although Dhomont, much alike his confrères, seems to dislike quitetude. His music is in constant flux. After listening to the whole set I noticed that low frequency sounds are not abundantly present in Dhomont’s music.

The first composition, Here and There, is dedicated to Darren Copeland and Daid Eagle. The work’s principle body is whirl of granulations. The piece’s intention is to present different models of progression in a three-dimensional space. Starting with a clearly discernable motive it dissolves soon and starts wandering only to solidify after 10 minutes and 9 seconds.

The second piece is dedicate to Christian Calon: Je te salue, vieil océan!. Central is an excerpt of the Les chants de Maldoror by 19th century poet Lautréamont. Dhomont’s work has more often relations to text, like his Forêt profonde where a psychoanalytical version of the Hansl and Gretl story plays a central role. This piece has literal connotations with water and the sea/ocean but also dives deeper with edited (granulated) concrete sounds. This work reminds me much of the better works of Michel Chion: a clear literal motive around which the music circles supporting and indeed enhancing and deepening the atmosphere.

Chroniques de la lumière is dedicated to Annette Vande Gorne, yet another acousmatic master. Three parts which in total take up more than 29 minutes. For more than 15 years has the work been in and out of the studio. The final part, Météores, was earlier released in 1991 on the Mouvances~Métaphores 2cd release and in 1996 on Les dérives du signe of empreintes DIGITALes. In 2005 the whole composition has been reworked.

The sixth composition on this disc, Voyage-miroir is dedicated to Robert Normandeau. The work starts traditionally with a swirl of sounds, but most times the motives and the motions are much clearer. This makes it an ‘easy’ work, because the listener gets a better grip at what he hears. Voyage-miroir is rework of … mourir un peu, a work of 1984-1987 which also was released on the Mouvances~Métaphores 2cd.

Corps et âme, the final work, deals with the balance between body and soul. Psychology is a central theme in Dhomont’s work which he works out in many different forms. In this work he juxtaposes sounds that he regards as ‘fleshy’ with those that are ‘ethereal’. This is of course highly subjective which is exactly what an artist is supposed.

Francis Dhomont presents his intellectual preoccupations with the air of the experienced artist who is in total control of his sonic material and thus is capable of concentrating on his subject.

Francis Dhomont presents his intellectual preoccupations with the air of the experienced artist who is in total control of his sonic material…


Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 1 juin 2007

The alteration of sound is also the alteration of our perception, and no one better than Francis Dhomont can explain this parallelism while obtaining the most astonishing artistic results from it. The extremes of a studio manipulation have never sounded more effective: Dhomont’s ability to transform inorganic materials in something that sounds biotic — even natural, like in the virtual marine elements of Je te salue, vieil océan! — is the basis of his greatness. The five compositions of this CD present, in the composer’s words, structures that “attempt to avoid traditional music codes, disregarding their imperatives”. The subtle transformations and sudden changes of dynamics related to the sonic continuum of a piece like Chroniques de la lumière - almost half an hour of evolutions that range from the vague presence of aural symptoms to the imaginary representations of astral bodies - are enough to keep our fascination at full steam, just like kids left with their mouths agape when meeting something unexpected and wonderful. In that sense, the mechanism that links Dhomont’s music to our physical response is one that explores a system working through very simple principles, and for that very reason achieving the most important conclusions. These soundscapes satisfy both an aesthetic canon and the need of moving forward and finding new life in the creative dismemberment of a source which, at 81, this man still does with the cultural and scientific enthusiasm of a young student. Music with a high rate of emotional value in one of the best acousmatic releases of 2007.

Music with a high rate of emotional value in one of the best acousmatic releases of 2007.


Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy, no 54, 1 mai 2007

Francis Dhomont, der 2006 80 geworden ist, gehört mit den ein Jahr jüngeren Pierre Henry und Bernard Parmegiani, die wie er in Paris geboren sind, zu den unverwüstlichen Repräsentanten der guten alten Musique concrète, Acousmatic oder Electroacoustic Music, wie immer man es nennen mag. Für mich sind die 7 auf … et autres utopies (IMED 0682) versammelten Paradebeispiele für Sonic Fiction nomadische Streifzüge durch phantastische Klangwelten, die auf keiner Land- oder Sternenkarte verzeichnet sind. Imaginary Landscapes, die sich hinter eyes wide shut auftun, ein ganzer Ocean of Sound, den man als Walfisch oder Manta Ray durchtaucht. Speziell ‚Je te salue, vieil océan!‘ (1998, 2000-04) lässt einen in den schwarzen Abgrund eines von Lautréamont besungenen Maldoror-Meeres versinken. Zuvor hatte Dhomont, der sich in Avignon niedergelassen hat, nachdem er von 1978-2005 zwischen Frankreich und Québec gependelt war, mit ‚Here and There‘ (2003), einer präzisen, aber unprätentiösen Studie, den dreidimensionalen Hörraum ausgemessen. Zentral sind dann die halbstündigen ‚Chroniques de la lumière‘ (1989, 2005), die in den Teilen ‚Miroitements‘, ‚Artifices‘ und ‚Météores‘ Aspekte des Lichts in klanglichen Äquivalenten reflektieren. Zuerst das Dämmern und Schimmern des Tageslichtes, dann künstliche Lichtquellen und schließlich Lichtphänomene am Himmel, Kometen, Sternschnuppen, Meteoritenschauer. Für das dem Kollegen Robert Normandeau gewidmete ‚Voyagemiroir‘ (2004) kehrte Dhomont sein eigenes ‚… mourir un peu‘ (1984-87) um und griff dabei erneut die Motive Abschied, Flucht & Exil auf, mit dem Strudeln von Ebbe und Flut als Sinnbild der Wechselfälle des Lebens. ‚Corps et âme‘ (2001- 02) schließlich kreist um die Dualität von Körper und Seele, die letztlich eine Einheit sind, aber auch um die Intensität, mit der man ‚mit Leib & Seele‘ sich einer Sache oder Person hingibt. Die Stärke dieser Klangwelt ist die Plastizität in der Abstraktion, eine ausgreifende, suggestive Topographie, die in sich morpht und die gleichzeitig ständig überschüttet und durchzuckt wird mit granularen, polymorphen Klangmolekülen.


Andrea Ferraris, Chain DLK, 26 mars 2007

The more I think to labels like empreintes DIGITALes the more I think these people deserve a monument, not just for the fact they put out top notch material with beautiful packaging but also for the fact they’re not afraid to release contemporary music with a strong “experimental accent.”

For those of you who’ve never heard of Francis Dhomont, you’d better give a check to his biography since it looks like this man is one of the beginners of “musique concrète” that itself makes real the “history’s what’s happening” in the way the Ex meant it back in the days. This collection of compositions ranging from 1998 to 2004 will bring your hear into a contemporary - classic - electronic dimension. I’m writing that for those more confidential with the genre, therefore while being really different, who’s friendly with some electronic composition of people like Maderna, Berio, Stockhausen, Schaeffer, I think what we’re talking about. This “collected works” present the most introspective and abstract side of Dhomont and the title … et autres utopies (… and other utopias) is quite explicit in this sense and more than ever in a dark age like this there’s no dichotomy with “abstraction” and “introspection” it’s almost like talking about the same thing. While forging / choosing every single sound accurately the French composer didn’t forget to keep his mind fixed on the construction idea that’s why even when abstraction gets high we’re far from hearing “random noise.” I think some passages betrays an incredible taste for tension/release like in Voyage-miroir, not to speak about the title track where dissolution casts the listener in a sort of house of mirrors. It’s hard to get deep in the complexity of such a work but I suggest you to look for a way out from the synaptic labyrinth of Dhomont.

This “collected works” present the most introspective and abstract side of Dhomont


Jan Willem Broek, De Subjectivisten, 22 mars 2007

De eerste keer dat ik musique concrète of elektro-akoestische muziek beluister heb ik er niet zoveel mee. Ik heb ook niets tegen dat genre, mijn beste vrienden zijn elektro-akoestische muzikanten, maar het raakt me niet. Dat wil zeggen, totdat ik in 1997 de Frankenstein Symphony hoor van Francis Dhomont. Het kwartje valt dan met terugwerkende kracht. Het blijkt een aangrijpende en boven alles avontuurlijke geluidswereld met toevallig gevonden en bewust geluid, die te pas en te onpas opduiken en verdwijnen. Deze muziek is haast fysiek en daarom ook zo indrukwekkend. Klassieke thema’s verpakt in elektronica, samples, noise en andere geluiden. De grote, in Parijs geboren, meester is nu ondertussen bijna 81 en woont vooral in Canada. Daar heb je Empreintes Digitales, het elektro-akoestische label bij uitstek, waarop Dhomont ook de meeste van zijn werken uitbrengt. Dat is ook nu weer het geval met de cd … et autres utopies, die zoals de titel al doet vermoeden gaat over zaken die niet horen bij bepaalde locaties behalve bij de denkbeeldige. Dhomont maakt gebruik van haast driedimensionaal geluid waarmee hij het heelal lijkt weer te geven met alle zwarte gaten erbij. Ook laat hij een duivelse oceaan vol ongrijpbare geluidsgolven de revue passeren en elektro-akoestische dagdromen. Dat lijkt allemaal heel vaag, maar als je de composities beluistert krijg je deze zaken gewoonweg opgedrongen. Kabbelende klanken, acceleraties vol elektronica, dreigende ambient en drones, liefdevolle stiltes en een bevreemdende atmosfeer, wisselen elkaar in afwisselend tempo af. Van natuur tot surrealisme. Dhomont weet als geen ander te spelen met emoties en geluid, waarin hij en passent ook nog thema’s als vertrek, vlucht en ballingschap verwerkt. Schitterende nachtmerries op klaarlichte dag. Dhomont levert zijn zoveelste monumentale werk af!

Kabbelende klanken, acceleraties vol elektronica, dreigende ambient en drones, liefdevolle stiltes en een bevreemdende atmosfeer, wisselen elkaar in afwisselend tempo af. Van natuur tot surrealisme.


Modisti, 7 mars 2007

Totalmente inmerso en la composición acúsmática, estas obras incluyen diversos intereses en relación a lo espacial, textual y concreto expresado mediante una postura lingüística coherente con la literature del campo aunque mostrando una exquisita coherencia en la composición y manejo del sonido, resultado de una afinada imaginación y profundo conocimiento del medio.

… exquisita coherencia en la composición…


Jérôme Provençal, Les Inrockuptibles, 5 mars 2007

Musicien de formation classique — il a notamment été l’élève de la compositrice Nadia Boulanger –, né à Paris en 1926, Francis Dhomont s’est, au sortir de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, décidé à plonger dans l’inconnu électroacoustique: datant de 1947, ses premières expériences sur fil magnétique sont exactement contemporaines de l’invention de la musique concrète par Pierre Schaeffer.

Ce n’est pourtant qu’à partir de 1963, et de l’installation de son studio personnel en Provence, que Francis Dhomont va véritablement entamer sa carrière d’électroacousticien. Celle-ci connaîtra son moment de plein épanouissement dans les années 70 et 80 lorsque, invité à donner des conférences puis des cours à la faculté de musique de Montréal, l’auteur de Forêt profonde, splendide mélodrame acousmatique inspiré par les écrits de Bruno Bettelheim sur les contes de fées, va devenir la figure de proue de ce qui fut baptisé «l’école de Montréal». Depuis cette période de grande fertilité, marquée par la parution de plusieurs enregistrements clés, Francis Dhomont jouit d’une importante reconnaissance au Canada, dont l’une des manifestations les plus concrètes réside dans la scrupuleuse entreprise d’archivage menée par le label Empreintes DIGITALes.

Dernier volume en date, … et autres utopies rassemble cinq pièces relativement récentes qui, sans atteindre l’ampleur des œuvres majeures, offrent cependant de privilégiés instants d’écoute — ainsi l’oreille se baigne-t-elle avec profit dans le quart d’heure polyphonique de Je te salue, vieil océan!, lyrique antienne, ô combien fameuse, captée dans Les Chants de Maldoror.

… ainsi l’oreille se baigne-t-elle avec profit dans le quart d’heure polyphonique de Je te salue, vieil océan!


François Couture, AllMusic, 22 février 2007

Released just in time for Francis Dhomont’s 80th birthday, … et autres utopies (… and other utopias) is not the awaited third installment in the composer’s Cycle des profondeurs (Cycle of Depths) triptych. Instead, it collects various autonomous works, picking up where Jalons had left three years earlier. A little bit stronger as a whole, the album still does not match the enrapturing level of fascination exerted by Dhomont’s large-scale works. However, the man’s unique touch and audio plasticity are as keen as ever. The strongest piece is Je te salue, vieil océan! (15 minutes), driven by excerpts from Lautréamont’s Maldoror, recited by Marc-Henri Boisse and treated in ways strongly reminiscent of Forêt profonde and Sous le regard d’un soleil noir. It creates a gripping evocation of the French pre-Surrealist poet’s tortured universe. Here and There (10 minutes) and Voyage-miroir (15 minutes) are also very strong compositions. The first one features Dhomont’s trademark swooshes of sound hiding subtler carefully-placed materials. The other piece revisits his mid-‘80s work … mourir un peu about exile and departure - after more than 25 years spent between Canada and France, the composer has now elected to live permanently in the latter, his native country. The longest work of this set at 29 minutes, the three-part Chroniques de la lumière is also the weakest. Esthetically pretty and very well done on a technical level, it remains cold and non-engaging, like some of the pieces on Cycle de l’errance and Les Dérives du signe. It contains nice moments of grandeur (especially in the third part), but offers little new in terms of sonic materials and figures. Nevertheless, … et autres utopies will surely satisfy Dhomont’s followers. On the other hand, newcomers have more essential releases to first sink their ears into.

… the man’s unique touch and audio plasticity are as keen as ever.

L’événement Dhomont

Réjean Beaucage, La Scena Musicale, no 12:3, 1 novembre 2006

On n’a pas tous les jours 80 ans, aussi l’anniversaire d’un grand créateur comme Francis Dhomont ne passe-t-il pas inaperçu. Coup d’œil sur les productions qui le soulignent.

Computer Music Journal (30:3). La revue américaine publiée par MIT Press consacre sa page couverture au compositeur. Rosemary Mountain, qui enseigne l’électroacoustique à l’Université Concordia, y publie sous le titre «From Wire to Computer: Francis Dhomont at 80» un excellent entretien avec le compositeur.

Circuit, musiques contemporaines (16:3). Le plus récent numéro de la revue publiée par Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal présente un échange épistolaire entre le compositeur Maxime McKinley et Francis Dhomont sur l’évolution et le devenir de la musique acousmatique. Dans le même numéro, un portrait de la société de concerts Réseaux, présenté par Réjean Beaucage.

Portraits polychromes no 10: Francis Dhomont. La série publiée par l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel consacre le 10e de ses Portraits polychromes à Francis Dhomont. Entretien détaillé avec Évelyne Gayou, analyses de François Bayle, Jean-Christophe Thomas, Stéphane Roy, Andrew Lewis, Anna Rubin et Katharine Norman, catalogue [d’œuvres] commenté par Annette Vande Gorne, discographie, souvenirs du compositeur et photos. La totale.

Francis Dhomont: … et autres utopies (Empreintes DIGITALes, IMED 0682). Le plus récent disque de l’étiquette montréalaise consacré à Francis Dhomont présente cinq œuvres: Here and There (2003), Je te salue, vieil océan! (1998, 2000-04), Voyage-miroir (2004), Corps et âme (2001-02) et Chroniques de la lumière (1989, 2005). Le compositeur y démontre, une nouvelle fois, son étonnante maîtrise du genre.

Le compositeur y démontre, une nouvelle fois, son étonnante maîtrise du genre.