Richard Cochrane, Hollow Ear, 1 juillet 1999

Daoust has a febrile imagination. Nothing stays still for long in these electronic works which fuse samples of recognizable sounds with state-of-the-art digital processing and recomposition. He’s been making music this way for twenty years, and his depth of experience shows in his expert handling of such delicate issues as stereo panning — sounds constantly move around the field, but with a subtlety that prevents them from ever merely ping-ponging back and forth.

The disc begins with [Impromptu] a filleting of a piece by Chopin, recorded in its entirety by the composer and completely re-wired in software. While the postmodern referentially of the approach is certainly not ignored, Daoust creates something quite alien to Chopin’s melodic conception, sending notes bouncing off one another like hyperstimulated atoms and occasionally allowing them to accumulate into vast microtonal dissonance.

Il était une fois… (conte sans paroles), on the other hand, supposedly conjures up the images of bedtime stories he liked to tell his daughter. Perhaps they gave her nightmares. Certainly the combination of children’s voices, harsh timbre and squealing rubber toys terrified this listener. Atmospheric in the extreme but not for the faint-hearted.

It’s followed by the all-too-brief Mi bémol, a study in percussive tones (sounding like xylophone or marimba samples) which ricochet off one another with jaw-dropping speed and agility, accompanied by spoken word samples and other concrète bits.

Résonances uses the bells of Notre-Dame (the one in Montréal and not Victor Hugo’s) for its sound-source; a little grating but a sound he clearly likes. High-speed manipulations skid this way and that, always taking the listener by surprise.

This is a disc full of fascinating and well-realized works. It’s not just for musique concrète fans; indeed, it’s probably rather too conventionally musical for their often ascetic tastes. Far from being compilations of “real” sounds, these are musical constructions in the most conventional of senses; if they happen to also be imaginative and stimulating, to refer to the non-musical auditory world and to seem to tell a story, then so much the better.

This is a disc full of fascinating and well-realized works.