Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 9 octobre 2008

“Cinema for the ear” is a much exploited expression in the acousmatic field — including the description of Gilles Gobeil’s work on the liner notes of this DVD — yet there is no doubt that few artists are able to challenge the Quebecoise’s visionary aptitude when it comes to assembling materials that fuse concrete matters and ethereal essences in such a masterful fashion. Trois songes was entirely realized in Karlsruhe, Germany over the course of four residencies between 2005 and 2007, the designer of these complex, often breathtaking architectures inspired both by literature (Jacques Lacarrière, Dante Alighieri) and an unemployed scenario by mythical movie director Andrey Tarkovsky. The most graceful piece on offer is Entre les deux rives du printemps, an impressive consecutiveness of events characterized by large quantities of nocturnal ambiences, crickets underlining unfathomable secluded reverberations, and a magnificent recurrence of echoing ghosts of early polyphonic music. The latter element is indeed a foundation for various circumstances in the record, whose aura is repeatedly wounded by distressed utterances (usually equalized until they become unrecognizable), natural elements — an example being the storm at the beginning of the splendidly exciting Le miroir triste, complete with different species of birds, bells and additional voices — and, last but not least, the surprising presence of René Lussier’s daxophone, a disembodied timbre sounding at times like a voice from the netherworld (the composer describes the instrument as “stunning and rather frightening”). The initial Ombres, espaces, silences… is more or less self-explanatory while trying to sonically describe the life of the “Desert Fathers” at the beginning of the Christian age, strikingly dramatic for the large part with a disquieting closing chorale that might give you the urge to cry. Needless to say, sacred music is again an essential tool in Gobeil’s compositional method for this chapter, but it’s the whole album that deserves to be eulogized for poignant substance and sheer brilliance of the overall result. The best of 2008 for the Canadian label, together with John Young’s Lieu-temps.

The best of 2008 for the Canadian label, together with John Young’s Lieu-temps.