Out of Montréal’s electroacoustic/acousmatic spearhead in sound art, empeintes DIGITALes, comes Chantal Dumas’ debut, Oscillations planétaires [Planetary Oscillations]. With a press kit that reads like a science textbook, the album explores some of Earth’s more intimate phenomena. Some of these oscillations are familiar: quakes and geysers. Other naturally occurring geo-drama such as Earth Tides and Geomagnetism have a more educational resonance. Since its radio premiere in July and concert premiere in December (both 2018), the commissioned work was revised in August of this year.
Each of the nine tracks accepts a title and conception of a geological process. Several address plate tectonics. Instead of an expected dominating sub bass and thundering drone, the frequency-blending often includes higher ranges. Formation de montagnes for example sounds reminiscent of a vintage sci-fi movie soundtrack. Marée crustale sweeps with delicious stereo panning as minimalist dynamics translate the briny shiftiness. Some of the work (which features Ida Toninato on baritone saxophone) is more easily conceptualized. There are obvious sonorous tidal and bubbly references.
Contributions come also from Daniel Áñez (piano on Dorsale médio-atlantique) and Claire Marchand who contributes flute on Geysers. Christian Olsen adds sparse, yet powerful drum kit performance on Dorsale médio-atlantique and Ondes sismiques. Fiona Ann Darbyshire contributed as scientific advisor. The predominant presence of electroacoustic effects, which define the album, are none more prevalent than during Magnétisme terrestre. Desired or not, the overall take-away affect of the album is a concrete eco-consciousness. There isn’t an ounce of proselytism herein. With subtleties and cool thematic structures Oscillations planétaires offers a grounds for legit conceptualization of ‘secrets of the deep,’ daftly demystified.