Miniatures concrètes Various artists

Couverture: Luc Beauchemin, c, l, z (1998)

… a more focused, homogeneous approach… AllMusic, ÉU

I must applaud the daring nature of DIFFUSION i MéDIA. Nightwaves, Canada


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Miniatures concrètes

[24 compositeurs]

Électro clips 2

Various artists

Jacques Tremblay, Paul Steenhuisen, Kim Hedås

Notes de programme

Cinquante et plus

Un peu plus de sept ans après la parution du premier compact Électro clips qui a de plusieurs façons «forcé l’électroacoustique à se dépasser», voici un jeu de 24 nouvelles pièces de courte durée par autant de nouveaux compositeurs d’un peu partout à travers le monde occidental. Le présent disque est le 37e de notre collection empreintes DIGITALes et paraît en 1998 — l’année du 50e anniversaire de la musique concrète —; notre façon de célébrer son développement.

Jean-François Denis, Montréal [ii-98]


Quelques articles recommandés

La presse en parle

  • François Couture, AllMusic, 23 septembre 2001
    … a more focused, homogeneous approach…
  • Gary Flanagan, Nightwaves, no 8, 1 avril 2001
    I must applaud the daring nature of DIFFUSION i MéDIA.
  • HM, Adverse Effect Fanzine, no 2:4, 24 octobre 2000
    … a terrifically enjoyable journey through 24 tracks…
  • Linas Vyliaudas, Tango, no 8, 1 août 2000
  • Geert De Decker, Sztuka Fabryka, 1 juillet 2000
    … for those who seek ultimate compositions of sounds.
  • Felix Klopotek, Spex, 1 mars 2000
  • Stefan Hetzel, Bad Alchemy, 1 février 2000
  • Jesús Gutierrez, Hurly Burly, no 12, 1 janvier 2000
  • Alistair MacDonald, SAN Diffusion, 1 décembre 1999
    … a hugely enjoyable CD and a fascinating snapshot of just some of the composers working in the late nineties…
  • Garth Cheddar, Stridernews, no 8, 1 avril 1999
    All are uniformly excellent…
  • Troy Date, KSVR: Air Force Nun, 1 mars 1999
    … a fantastic introduction…
  • Canary Burton, Alternate Music Press, 31 décembre 1998
  • Tom Schulte, Slug, 1 décembre 1998
    … exquisitely recorded collection of musique concrète and other avant forms of experimentation.
  • Dan Warburton, Art Zéro, no 13, 17 août 1998
  • Kenneth P Goldsmith, New York Press, no 15, 10 juin 1998
  • Bruce Russell, Musicworks, no 71, 1 juin 1998
    One great thing about such music here in Canada is the empreintes DIGITALes label.
  • Michael D Hogan, Ici Montréal, 21 mai 1998
  • Noah Wane, Splendid E-Zine, 11 mai 1998
  • Ear Magazine, 1 mai 1998
    The Best — Highly Recommended + Third Ear Mention: Most Impressive!
  • Dimitri DF, États limites, no 3, 1 mai 1998
    … à écouter avec un casque sur un système de haute qualité!
  • François Tousignant, Le Devoir, 22 mars 1998
    Le résultat: une véritable fiesta pour l’oreille, 24 petits clipsparfois amusants, parfois plus angoissants, mais qui, tous, témoignent de la diversité et de la vitalité des esthétiques.
  • Catherine Perrey, Décibels, 23 février 1998
    … l’état de la galaxie électroacoustique.


François Couture, AllMusic, 23 septembre 2001

Seven years after the release of Électro clips by the same record label, and flat on the 50th anniversary of musique concrète, empreintes DIGITALes released Miniatures concrètes, its second collection of three-minute works. Big names are cruelly absent this time, leaving only lesser-known composers in the roaster. Most were in their late 30s/early 40s, an up-and-coming age in the field of electroacoustic music. Some, like Jacques Tremblay and Ned Bouhalassa, were about to have their “big break” — solo albums released by the same label — while others would continue to go unnoticed. Yet, the average quality level is higher than on the previous CD, an impression probably resulting from a more focused, homogeneous approach (for example, there is no computer music this time). What is good about shorts like these is that good ideas don’t get exhausted, while bad ones don’t last too long. Highlights include Mark Wingate’s Pufferfish, Elainie LilliosAu deuxième étage (“On the Second Floor”), the almost ambient Aquaéra 1 by Stephan Dunkelman, and Ios Smolders’ playfully enigmatic Manga pour l’oreille (“Manga for the Ear”). Stand-out tracks are not as striking as the ones in Électro clips, and Miniatures concrètes does not hold the same historical importance (its vision of a short electroacoustic piece having been copied a few times since the 1990 CD), but it provides a more satisfying listening experience.

… a more focused, homogeneous approach…


Gary Flanagan, Nightwaves, no 8, 1 avril 2001

This is a lovingly produced tribute to musique concrète. According to the liner notes, this disc features twenty four short works by as many new composers from around the Western world. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of musique concrète and its subsequent development. I have never been a huge afficionado of noise and/or musique concrète, but for those of you who enjoy the more experimental aspects of sound and recording, then you really must give this fine compilation a try. Noise artists from countries as diverse as Canada, England, Australia, Sweden and France are featured, and the results are a veritable mixed bag of sound sculpture. Some of the tracks are frightening, others are mysterious, while others seem to hold no emotional content at all. I must applaud the daring nature of Diffusion i Media . Their releases are consistently unique and bold. Also, it must be said that the packagaing for this CD is absolutely gorgeous… some of the prettiest, most colorful liner notes and inserts that I have ever seen! Very well done.

I must applaud the daring nature of DIFFUSION i MéDIA.


HM, Adverse Effect Fanzine, no 2:4, 24 octobre 2000

The convoluted world of musique concrète is on occasion somewhat baffling. Trawling through the piles of albums available by names only vaguely familiar even to east Europeans makes picking up a goodie a hit and miss affair. And that’s where the compilations come in. They ought to be informed, coherently assembled, albums that provide a way through musique concrète’s many blind alleys. Sadly, few work beyond the “interesting.”

This one, however, is a terrifically enjoyable journey through 24 tracks assembled to be just 3 minutes long each. The 3 minute stipulation tightens up the inclination to sloppiness and, strangely, brings a playfulness to the works. There’s a very high standard here, representing some of the better constructors around (Tremblay, Hoffman and Lillios in particular are fabulous). As important as the recordings, the album comes (in a fold-out cardboard box) with an enormously useful 32-page booklet (in French and English) detailing the resumés of the artists concerned.

… a terrifically enjoyable journey through 24 tracks…


Linas Vyliaudas, Tango, no 8, 1 août 2000


Geert De Decker, Sztuka Fabryka, 1 juillet 2000

For us it is a completely new form of music, never heard by us before. But it is a very surprising one. It is putting together all kinds of sounds and a search for the most strange sounds that surrounds us for creating very delicate compositions. These compositions does not stress rhythm or music, but the beauty of how sounds can appear when you start to compose with it. To understand this kind of music we quote from the enclosed booklet about the composition Aquaéra from Stephan Dunkelman (Belgium):Aquaéra constitutes my first attempt at composing with sonic elements sampled from reality whose morphological substance infers or moulds the movements of other acting elements.” We recommend this CD for those who seek ultimate compositions of sounds. Musique concrète is the alchemy of sounds.

… for those who seek ultimate compositions of sounds.

Alles Wahre ist artikuliert

Stefan Hetzel, Bad Alchemy, 1 février 2000

Das offenbar elementare menschliche Bedürinis, elektroakustische Musik zu fabrizieren sowie das statistisch überdurchschnittlich häufige Vorkommen dieses Bedürfnisses in frankophonen Gefilden zwang impresarlo Jean-François Denis aus Montréal (das liegt in Québec, nicht etwa in Canada, wie wir belehrt werden!) offenbar zur Veröffentlichung der CD Miniatures concrètes mit nicht weniger als 24 Dreiminütern von 24 verschiedenen Komponisten. Einzig der Niederländer Ios Smolders ist mir davon durch seine amüsante “Music for CD Player” bekannt (die demonstriert, dass tatsächlich 99 I.D.s auf eine CD passen!). Laut Denis feiert Miniatures concrètes den 50. Jahrestag der “Erfindung” Konkreter Musik. So klingts denn auch: eine unbeschwerte Geburtstagsfeier im vertrauten Kreise. Man ist unter sich, keiner will dem anderen wehtun, ästhetische Debatten sind nicht zu erwarten, man hat sichs in seiner jeweiligen Schrebergarten-Parzelle so gemütlich wie möglich gemacht und das bürgerliche Publikum ist mit Froschquaken als Ernster Musik immer noch ein klein wenig zu schockieren. Nicht, dass man mich missversteht: Miniatures concrètes ist klasse gemacht (Ich habe alle Stücke angehört, ich schwore es, wenn auch ohne Kopfhörer [kann deswegen über die Behandlung des Stereopanoramas nix sagen].) und Liebhaber des Genres werden die Vergabe des Attributs “Meisterwerk” kaum unterdrücken können, nur geht mir diese ständig perfekte, immer virtuose, stets anspieiungsund geistreiche akustische Alchimie, besser (schobder): akustische Datenverarbeitung a la Schaeffer derartig am, pardon, Arsch vorbei, dass ich mich weigere, hier auch nur einen weiteren Namen eines Beitragers zu nennen. Stattdessen hier noch einrnai drei Argumente gegen Konkrete Musik (d. h. gegen das Gerücht, aus Geräuschen zusammengebaute Musik sei irgendwie ästhetisch brauchbar), die ich schon vor drei Jahren in einem (unbeantwortet gebliebenen) Brief an die Testcard Redaktion formulierte:

1. Es gibt keinen sound ohne Struktur, sehr wohl aber Struktur ohne sound. Das “apollinische” Strukturelement ist also, meiner Meinung nach, der “dionysischen” akustischen Einkleidung (Klangoberfläche) vorgelagert. Nicht, dass man sich von sounds nicht inspirieren lassen dürfte, doch führt diese Inspiration doch wieder nur zur Schaffung quantifizierbarer musikalischer Strukturen (Rhythmen, Melodien etc.). Die Apotheose des sounds zeugt von einer rein fetischistischen Haltung zu Musik, von der ich mich ganz instinktiv abgestoßen fühle. Die Suche nach dem “Urgeräusch” in der Konkreten Musik ist in etwa so abwegig wie die Suche des späten Heidegger nach den “eiementaren Phonemen” der Philosophie.

2. Alles Wahre ist artikuliert. Eine Ästhetik, die das Geräusch zur ur-eigentlichen Quelle musikalischen Ausdrucks erklärt, betreibt damit eine “Umwertung aller (platonischen) Werte” und kommt sich subversiv vor. Natürlich hat die (mehr oder minder) subtile Apotheose des Des-Artikulierten jene Art regressiven Charmes, der zivilisationsmüde Ästheten besonders anspricht. Doch sollte man dabei nicht vergessen, dass man mit dem Feuer spielt. Der Verzicht auf das Streben nach Artikuliertheit (in der Kunst) bedeutet in letzter Konsequenz den Verzicht auf das Streben nach Kommunizierbarkeit, das Transportieren von “Inhalten”. Damit raubt man der Kunst das Potential, transversale Vernuft zu reprasentieren: die Menge an Artefakten expiodiert zwar, doch inspirieren diese keine außer-künstlerischen Gedanken mehr.

3. Der/die Hörer/in hat einen Körper. Konkrete Musik verabschiedet, stärker noch als Elektronische Musik, den Zusammenhang zwischen Körpermotorik und Klangerzeugung (= Musik entsteht, wenn ich ein Instrument (das können auch meine eigenen Stimmbänder sein!) spiele) und leistet damit einer Entwicklung Vorschub, die ich “schlechte Virtualisierung” nennen möchte. Unter “guter Virtualisierung” wäre in diesem Zusammenhang die konstruktive Erweiterung menschlicher Handlungsmöglichkeiten durch digitale Technologie zu verstehen (E-Mail, Internet), ohne dass dieser dabei die Technik dazu missbraucht, sich von sich selbst in seiner kontingenten Körperlichkeit und Sterblichkeit abzulenken (destruktive Computerspiele, Cybersex). Sicherlich kann man sich von den auf Miniatures concrètes (und Dutzenden anderer, ähnlicher Kompilationen) präsentierten Hor-Spielereien zu Tagträumereien verfuhren iassen, doch wenn der Trip vorüber ist, bleibt ein Gefühl dumpfer Leere, das nur durch: — noch mehr Konkrete Musik stillzustellen ist.


Jesús Gutierrez, Hurly Burly, no 12, 1 janvier 2000

All the pieces seem to have a very similar making: something that explains why these composers gathered to jointly present a product. Since it seems carried out by a group of composers sharing the same essence or perhaps developed by just one of them, as long as we carefully observe what does their homogeneity of intention consist in through the individual character that emerges as compositional style in ecch of the pieces.


Alistair MacDonald, SAN Diffusion, 1 décembre 1999

Miniatures concrètes is a CD of 24 three-minute works by 25 composers and is a very worthy successor to the same label’s excellent Électro clips (25 pieces by 25 composers) which appeared in 1990. Miniatures concrètes, however is quite different from its predecessor. More than simply a collection of short pieces it’s a strangely coherent ‘suite’ lasting for over 70 minutes. How much this was the conscious intention of the label’s artistic director, Jean-François Denis, is unclear, but for me it certainly works like this. The CD is both fascinating and fun. All of the works repay repeated and closer listening, whilst most are also immediately attractive.

Although there is no explicit information in the CD booklet on the ideas behind the project, it is apparent from individual composers’ notes that each was given (the same) three recorded sounds and asked to divide their piece into two sections of 15 seconds and 2 minutes 45 seconds. I have to admit to being initially sceptical, but the quality of the pieces and the variety of styles and approaches, along with the additional sound materials chosen by each composer, mean that the results are wonderfully varied. And the ordering of the tracks, itself an act of (unaccredited) composition, gives the whole disc a level of structural interest which I hadn’t expected.

Listening to the pieces, the ‘given’ sounds start to become obvious, sometimes apparently untreated, often transformed, extended and mixed. But even when we hear them clearly, just what the made the sounds is never certain, and different composers suggest different solutions to the riddle through their contextualisation. As for the added materials, some composers play with recognisable, ‘real’ sounds, others with more abstract colours; some pieces seem to suggest narrative, some make reference to other musics, and others occupy more surreal landscapes. Successive pieces fluctuate between beautiful and frantic, severe and humorous, enigmatic and filmic (including Sylvia Eckermann and Mathias Fuchs’ contribution to the ‘Horror and Suspense’ genre!), and the range of possibilities from music to sound-art is thoroughly explored so your ears are forever jumping between different sorts of listening.

In the end it’s difficult to pick out pieces or composers for special mention. Perhaps there are pieces which are better than others, but it is the combination of pieces and the threads which link them together which make this CD such a success, and none of the pieces is superfluous to it. The following brief descriptions, then, just give a taste of the variety.

In Jacques Tremblay’s fiery opening, Le Vidoir, sounds spin and collide, manic echoes of a dozen different musics viciously intercut. Kim Hedås’ piece, Princess Bat with the Underground Stars, has a wonderful clarity of layering, sudden changes in pacing and extremes of space marking out a landscape which is inhabited by surreal creatures — close-up metal insects giving way to larger life forms in huge imaginary spaces.

Andrew Yencken’s ‘day job’ as a sound editor for film is reflected in his choice of materials for Balanço which is a succession of superbly articulated transitions between vivid realities. Roger Doyle, on the other hand, throws melodic fragments together with a sampler to create a hectic, crazy musical world like a wild fairground organ in The First Spirit Level, a headlong rush to the sudden three minute cut-off.

Natasha Barrett’s gestures in Racing Through, Racing Unseen, are distinct and powerful and there is a real sense of control of materials from the naturalistic to the synthetic. Monique Jean’s Lacrimous, on the other hand, plays much more with ambiguity, her subtle mixing and transformation allowing sounds to surface then dissolve gently back into textures.

From Le Vidoir to the final piece, Justice Olsson’s gently rhythmic and melodic A Man is a Delicate Flame, the composers have left their distinctive prints (and in at least two cases, echoes of yet other composers!), yet, however different, the trail of shared materials links them powerfully together.

In teaching I found Électro clips invaluable, and Miniatures concrètes too is a rich resource. It is immediately useful as an introduction to those new to the technology or new to working with recorded sound, showing how fairly ordinary sounds can be put into a number of musical contexts in some pretty extraordinary ways. And to have these distillations of so many styles for comparison gives a powerful incentive to dig further into other pieces by some of the same composers.

Miniatures concrètes, is a hugely enjoyable CD and a fascinating snapshot of just some of the composers working in the late nineties, which I would thoroughly recommend.

… a hugely enjoyable CD and a fascinating snapshot of just some of the composers working in the late nineties…


Garth Cheddar, Stridernews, no 8, 1 avril 1999

The logical ‘in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of musique concrète’ follow-up to 1994’s Électro clips CD, Miniatures concrètes contains three-minute long musique concrète compositions by 24 different composers. The name recognition quotient of this one is similar to that of your average techno sampler, with the only names I can remember having ever been mentioned aloud being Jocelyn Robert and Åke Parmerud, but then again I suspect most ‘big name’ electroacoustic composers probably aren’t in much danger of being mobbed by throngs of adoring fans when they go to the mall, even in France. Miniatures concrètes thus serves as a fine young persons guide to what (and who) is new in electroacoustics throughout the western world at the end of the century. While not-too-many years ago it was forgivable to believe that all ‘serious’ electroacoustic music was confined to the French-speaking world, a whole 3/4 (!) of the artists included here reside outside of France and Québec. Also, the fact that a good share of the composers here are not tenured faculty should hopefully help dispel the idea that musique concrète is purely an academic art form. Heck it even includes two artists associated with the ambiguous music ‘underground’ including Ios Smolders of the acclaimed (by somebody) Dutch group THU20; and, bless my soul, Roger Doyle, who will no doubt be remembered by corporate historians of the future as Bono’s piano teacher, and to the rest of us as the mastermind behind the excellent sound collage album Rapid Eye Movements released by United Dairies all the way back in 1981-under the moniker ‘Operating Theatre’ (it was the ‘industrial’ era after all). Good to see him still alive and releasing numerous unheard-by-anyone albums in the interim.

If there is any sort of unifying thread to Miniatures concrètes (other than the musique concrète thing), it appears that each artist was given three sound sources to manipulate in the realization of their piece, though they were allowed to use any additional sound sources. In at least one case, these sounds were the sole source of the work (Katharine Norman’s oddly clunky Squeaky Reel) and in other cases they sound as though they were tacked on as an afterthought (as in Ned Bouhalassa’s piece, where they appear, unmanipulated, following a short period of silence at the end). Given the cut-and-paste nature of the genre, this compilation has a high degree of continuity (if that is important to you), and on a casual listen it is hard to pick out individual pieces, but the outstanding feature of this collection is its diversity. Miniatures concrètes serves as a fascinating primer of the electroacoustic world as it is today.

The first few pieces are fairly busy sound collage which vary in density and development, and at times gives the impression of some kind of strange, undanceable alien techno. Jacques Tremblay’s opening Le vidoir is particularly dense and nearly as manic as a Carl Stallings cartoon soundtrack. Other memorable pieces include Daniel Toussaint’s La chasse au pougablunk boumeu, an imaginary short film for the ear documenting the ritual hunt of a cruel tarmac-devouring bird, and Robert’s Prélude à «des dieux en conserves», a humorous collage of stock sound clips which is probably the high point of the first quarter of the disc.

The pieces on the second quarter are more spacious, take a little longer to develop, and to me are slightly more satisfying. At times, this stuff approaches what we used to call ‘industrial ambient’ 15 or so years ago, without the cultural baggage that term implies. All are uniformly excellent, though the eerie vibe of Elainie Lillios’s Au deuxième étage and Natasha Barrett’s unsettling Racing Through, Racing Unseen are particularly tasty.

The second half of Miniatures concrètes becomes more abstract and ungraspable and consequently difficult to describe. Textures and moods vary from the dense and noisy (Doyle’s The First Spirit Level) to dark and somber (Sylvia Eckermann & Mathias Fuchs’s Bad Room) to Trente oiseaux-like subtle acoustics and silence (SmoldersManga pour l’oreille). The album concludes with the unique nearly song-like A Man is a Delicate Flame by Justice Olsson, which sounds vaguely like a remixed Wyatt-era Soft Machine tape cut into a thousand pieces and scotch-taped back together.

All are uniformly excellent…


Troy Date, KSVR: Air Force Nun, 1 mars 1999

Miniatures concrètes was released in 1998 as a celebration of 50 years of musique concrète. It is a compilation of 24 short works by composers from around the Western world. These works range from glorious pops and squeaks to luscious textures all exquisitely captured with a crisp preciseness. I highly recommend this disk for anyone who seeks unusual music. It is a fantastic introduction to some of the artists on empreintes DIGITALes.

… a fantastic introduction…


Canary Burton, Alternate Music Press, 31 décembre 1998

This album of 24 short electroacoustic pieces is compiled by Jean-François Denis as the 37th in the empreintes DIGITALes collection and in celebration of the 50th anniversay of musique concrète.


Tom Schulte, Slug, 1 décembre 1998

A friend once looked through my CD collection and asked ‘what sort of songs’ were on a certain [empreintes DIGITALes’] DIFFUSION i MéDIA release. “Well, it is more a collection of sounds than songs” I offered. [empreintes DIGITALes’] DIFFUSION i MéDIA put out exquisitely recorded collection of musique concrète and other avant forms of experimentation. A few releases are slimline packaged, but most are in handsome cardboard packaging with thick booklets (text in French and English) and attractively cuts sleeves for the disc itself.

An excellent introduction to their vast catalogue is the compilation Miniatures concrètes. Blips, environmental sounds and strange loops flit across the stereo range on this recording. It is best to climb right it and experience this strange world through a pair of headphones. Two dozen short works from a many composers are presented here. This also marks the fiftieth anniversary of musique concrète, the French name for the creative sequencing of tape recorded music and natural sounds. A thirty-two page booklet offers text on every track.

… exquisitely recorded collection of musique concrète and other avant forms of experimentation.


Dan Warburton, Art Zéro, no 13, 17 août 1998

Les vieilles différences idéologiques entre la musique électronique — les sons purement electroniques, «complètement calibrés» (Ferrari) — et la musique concrète — au debut créée à partir des sons déjà existants, des objets trouvés — sont aujourd’hui presque complètement oubliées. La musique électronique sérielle a évolué dans les années soixante — surtout dans les studios de Princeton (Babbitt, et al.) aux États-Unis — jusqu’à l’utilisation quasiment obligatoire des ordinateurs; d’autre part, l’omniprésence des échantillonneurs, en révolutionnant le travail sur l’objet trouvé, a également amené les concrets européens au même point de croisement: l’informatique.

Le concept de Miniatures concrètes, 24 morceaux de trois minutes de 24 compositeurs, chacun devant utiliser les trois mêmes sons comme matériel de base, est fascinant. Écouter comment chaque compositeur incorpore ou non les sons est en-soi intéressant: de la poésie presque campagnarde de Natasha Barrett, en passant par la (nouvelle) complexité de Paul Steenhuisen et Roger Doyle à la ‘musique d’horreur’ de Bad Room de Sylvia Eckermann et Mathias Fuchs. Certes, il y a des morceaux moins prenants (soyons patients… trois minutes passent assez vite), mais cette compilation est fortement recommandée aux gens qui cherchent un bon aperçu de genre de musique.

Music Xtra

Kenneth P Goldsmith, New York Press, no 15, 10 juin 1998

There have been two iconic pocket symphonies written in the 20th century: Érik Satie’s Vexations and Brian Eno’s Windows 95 Startup Sound. Both are concentrated miniatures, both are resistant to familiarity and both stand up to countless repetitions of enjoyable listening (the big difference is that Satie never got thousands of bucks to write his). Today both hold up so well because of the precise way that each sums up their respective moments’ tiny, eloquent statements. Sandwiched between these two works have been numerous attempts to commission or compile pocket symphonies on record, the most outstanding being The ResidentsCommercial Album and Miniatures: A Sequence of Fifty-One Tiny Masterpieces edited by Morgan Fisher from 1980.

Now two new attempts have caught my attention: Four Years in 30 Seconds and Miniatures concrètes. Both deal in extremely experimentaf music, but one reeks of nostalgia while the other catches our moment with precision. Miniatures concrètes celebrates the 50th anniversary of musique concrète by commissioning 24 electroacoustic musicians from around the world to create three-minute works. The composers, all born after the invention of musique concrète (the oldest is 49, the youngest 26), stick close to the stock vocabulary of tweaks and thumps, whooshes and echoes that was defined by pioneers of the genre half a century ago. And although most of the work is composed on computer, there’s precious little recognizable sampling, appropriated or plundered sounds.

In this way, the disc is disappointing in its traditionalism, as radical as that tradition might be. I wish these composers would break some rules. However, there are a few exceptions: Roger Doyle’s The First Spirit Level uses manipulated organs and voices to achieve a cut-up action-flick soundtrack feeling. Justice Olsson’s A Man is a Delicate Flame boils down 1500 samples to create something that sounds like a three-minute vocal outtake from The Pet Sounds Sessions. The most interesting track, by far, is Richard Karpen’s Mass which embeds tiny sampled riffs from Hendrix’s Little Wing into a mass of mantric electronics. With this sly use of music history samples, Karpen seems to be the only one on the disc bringing electroaoustic music up to date. […]


Bruce Russell, Musicworks, no 71, 1 juin 1998

1998 marks the 50th anniversary of musique concrète. I was able to see a few Paris concerts celebrating this in the winter, and was in awe at the audience turnouts for electroacoustic and experimental music. One great thing about such music here in Canada is the empreintes DIGITALes label. If you want to know what’s going on in the scene, check out their releases. Their 1990 Électro clips disc was groundbreaking in its use of 25 exactly three minute tracks by 25 composers with a photo backing each loose page of liner notes (too bulky for the jewel case). As a document of electroacoustic music, it is invaluable.

Now it has a sequel, this time with only 24 new composers, but from all around the globe. Again, the music is telling. There seems to be less variation in style than with the earlier CD. perhaps because the label has cultivated a more well-defined aesthetic since then. With most of the pieces, the scale is reduced to the level of microscopic detail, appropriate to their three-minute length. Most gestures are brief. sound sources are disguised (whereas musique concrète composers only thought they disguised them, right?); the upper frequency range tends to predominate; many relate a small history. And what’s the fascination with little bird sounds present on one too many tracks? Was this a soundbyte given in advance to all the participants?

My favourite piece, Pufferfish by Mark Wingate, pulsates with moving water, and fully uses both the frequency spectrum and pan potential. Monique Jean’s Lacrimous is a darkly hued descent to the underworld. Roger Doyle’s The First Spirit Level is a closet door-opening sonic entities pouring out. With a self explanatory title, Katharine Norman’s Squeaky Reel, provides some tongue-in-cheek content. Mass, by Richard Karpen presents nicely contrasting ethereal and visceral materials. In Bad Room, Sylvia Eckermann and Mathias Fuchs work with refreshingly unprocessed sounds which evoke a strong, if squeamish response. The packaging is inventive, with only one quirk: the loose flap of cardboard which cradles the disc. Overall, a very cohesive CD experience with many levels and layers for ambient / not-so-ambient listening. Kudos to empreintes DIGITALes, but I could do without the damn squeaky birds, or whatever they are!

One great thing about such music here in Canada is the empreintes DIGITALes label.


Michael D Hogan, Ici Montréal, 21 mai 1998

Sept ans après l’excellent Électro clips, LA maison de diffusion de la musique électroacoustique à Montréal renoue avec l’idée de faire une compilation de courtes pièces créées par de jeunes compositeurs de partout en Occident. Moins heureuse que la précédente, on y fait toutefois quelques belles trouvailles. Pour souligner les 50 ans de la musique concrète.


Noah Wane, Splendid E-Zine, 11 mai 1998

Miniatures concrètes celebrates the advent of musique concrète 50 years ago. It contains 3-minute pieces from 24 different composers. Each composition is constructed from three provided sound sources — yet the results are truly diverse.

Jocelyn Robert’s Prélude à «des dieux en conserves» is fraught with a sort of intrinsic conflict created by the cunning juxtaposition of sounds from the world of human-kind (riots, bombs, etc) and sounds from nature (birds, water, wind, etc). It is a truly stunning example of the way sounds have the power to stir emotion.

Another highlight of the disc is Randall Smith’s Collision. This work has a linear/narrative aspect to it in the sense that the body of the piece is the logical extrapolation of the big sonic gesture that happens at the beginning (like a collision and its aftermath). In terms of nuts and bolts, I find Smith’s skill in the subtle manipulation of his sound sources to be praiseworthy.

Ned Bouhalassa’s Éclipse is wonderfully programmatic as well. His aural painting allows the listener to hear the moon as it moves across the face of the sun. The sonics in this track are outstanding — crisp and clear and capable of cutting to the bone.

empreintes DIGITALes is one of the premier propagators of serious, late 20th-century electronic music and CDs like Miniatures concrètes are the reason why.


Dimitri DF, États limites, no 3, 1 mai 1998

Pierre Schaeffer. Stop.
1948. Stop.
Musique électroacoustique. Stop.

Cette compilation dédiée aux 50 ans de la musique électroacoustique présente 24 morceaux de 3 minutes chacun. Il y a de tout il faut avouer, mais c’est bien ici du matériel de très haute qualité, tant pour la composition que pour le traitement du son. La majorité des morceaux s’éloignent assez brillamment des poncifs du genre. Quelque part entre Main et Stockhausen, de cette compilation se dégage une étrange homogénéité.

Cet ensemble met en avant 24 artistes essentiellement européens et nord-américains tous à écouter avec un casque sur un système de haute qualité!

… à écouter avec un casque sur un système de haute qualité!

De la bien bonne musique bien faite

François Tousignant, Le Devoir, 22 mars 1998

Jean-François Denis, le brave initiateur de cette collection consacrée à la diffusion de la musique électroacoustique, ne pouvait passer sous silence discographique les célébrations entourant le demi-siècle de cette forme d’art. En effet, c’est en 1948 que le Français Pierre Schaeffer proposa – entre autres – à un public parisien plus que surpris son Étude aux chemin de fer. Un événement qui allait avoir sur l’art du siècle le même impact que L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat des frères Lumière près de 50 années plus tôt.

Pour garder un petit caractère populaire et démocratique à la fête, il a proposé à 24 compositeurs électroacousticiens de composer une courte pièce de trois minutes. Pourquoi trois minute? Car telle était la durée de la première création de Schaeffer. Sur ce canevas, nos artistes se sont mis qui à son microphone, qui à ses bandes, qui à ses ciseaux, qui à ses ordinateurs, chacun choisissant ce qui lui convient dans le vaste attirail de lutherie disponible.

Le résultat: une véritable fiesta pour l’oreille, 24 petits clips parfois amusants, parfois plus angoissants, mais qui, tous, témoignent de la diversité et de la vitalité des esthétiques.

On peut suivre le parcours tel que proposé, ou encore, après une première écoute, mieux apprivoiser en variant la succession des plages (les lecteurs se programment, ne l’oubliont pas) et écouter juste ce qu’il faut pour ne pas se lasser, ou encore revenir sur ce qui intéresse le plus.

J’ai mes favoris, bien sûr, mais je vais vous les taire afin que vous partiez mieux équipé, c’est-à-dire avec le moins de préjugés possibles, dans l’exploration de ces horizons stimulants.

Le résultat: une véritable fiesta pour l’oreille, 24 petits clipsparfois amusants, parfois plus angoissants, mais qui, tous, témoignent de la diversité et de la vitalité des esthétiques.

Du bruit tombant sur des feuilles de choux

Catherine Perrey, Décibels, 23 février 1998

La musique concrète a cinquante ans. Habituellement, cinquante ans, c’est l’âge de la maturité. Pourtant, cette musique a encore tout à faire dans l’immense territoire qu’elle occupe et semble tout juste sortie de la puberté. Ses ingrédients de prédilection sont des sons que l’on pourrait qualifier de familiers, qui sont enregistrés, puis ensuite manipulés et transformés. La musique concrète rassemble des artisans qui travaillent le matériau sonore, le dissèquent, changent sa densité et son apparence première, pour le magnifier et provoquer des rencontres inouïes entre éléments apparemment disparates.

L’étiquette montréalaise empreintes DIGITALes, sous la direction artistique de Jean-François Denis, vient de lancer un disque compact présentant l’état de la galaxie électroacoustique. Miniatures concrètes, concentre vingt-quatre œuvres [de trois minutes] de vingt-quatre compositeurs issus de douze pays différents. En quelque sorte, c’est un état des lieux de la musique électroacoustique, l’héritage légué par Pierre Schaeffer et Pierre Henry, pionniers du genre en 1948.

Dans le domaine des arts plastiques, on dit de la miniature qu’elle est un «genre de peinture délicate de petite dimension». Un univers pictural en dimensions réduites. La miniature concrète, pièce électroacoustique de trois minutes, doit livrer en un temps bref, un univers concis qui doit porter la marque du compositeur et donner les éléments de définition d’un certain paysage sonore, sa texture et son odeur. Il ne s’agit pas d’œuvres tronquées, mais bien de pièces parfaitement autonomes dont le but avoué est de faire entrer l’auditeur en électroacoustique comme on entre en religion. La musique électroacoustique demande à ce que l’on déplie et déploie ses oreilles pour les transformer en d’aimables feuilles de chou prêtes à recevoir la quintessence des sons. Elle demande l’offrande et la disponibilité de l’auditeur, qui voyage au cœur des éléments, enveloppé par eux, et finit par être capturé par d’étranges spirales sonores.

Les vingt-quatre pièces de Miniatures concrètes forment un tout presque curieusement homogène, qui cherche à montrer ce qui unit les compositeurs sur le front de la construction des œuvres, au delà des disparités. Paru sept ans auparavant sur la même étiquette, Électro clips [IMED 9604] semblait cependant célébrer un mouvement contraire, et célébrer les disparités au delà d’un terreau commun.

… l’état de la galaxie électroacoustique.

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