Philip Raffaele, Absorb, 1 juillet 2001

Highly acclaimed Canadian electronic composer Robert Normandeau makes his rephlex debut with Sonars, keeping in line of general weirdness from the label, but not truly fitting into the braindance category. Instead, it is a highly experimental composition that relies on the concept of “sound” and every possible distortion available, all orchestrated into a bizarre soundscape of random click-click-clicks to sweeping echoes, and then cluminating in loud waves of sound. Like I said, this is highly experimental, in a way that might not please the ears of Rephlex’s general audience. A lot of the more experimental releases that Rephlex prides itself on all maintain some semblence of actual music, in that there lies some kind of structure, no matter how “out there” it is. But there is no such structure on this release, it is more of a sound photograph, a way of listening to life, in various applications.

Boasting a huge discography, and an incredible list of awards and commissions, Normandeau is definitely in the canon of musicians that rely on heavy experimentation and abstract musique concrète pieces. After listening for a while, the most bizarre thing about the album, is the fact that it’s on Rephlex at all. So began the deliberations whether or not the man really exists; it could be an experiment in sound perpetrated by one of the Rephlex crew, but after some careful investigations, Normandeau is in fact legitimate.

It is difficult to judge a disc like this, by what criteria does one compare or contrast it to? It exists on its own plane of weirdness, that calls for a very specific time and place for listening. Perhaps this marks the maturation of Rephlex as a label, and its desire to branch out and showcase other types of electronic talent. So the fine line of electronic composition becomes a little wider here, where Sonars lies at the polar opposite end of the spectrum to what is generic mainstream electronic music, and I suppose that Rephlex lies somewhere in the middle, when compared to Normandeau.

Sonars lies at the polar opposite end of the spectrum to what is generic mainstream electronic music…

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