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CD Reviews


by Grant Chu Covell

This article first appeared in the Lafolia reviews. Reprinted with permission

Absolutely brilliant and balanced anthologies and collections are put out by the CEC (The Canadian Electroacoustic Community/Communauté Electroacoustique Canadienne). New are Cache 2000 and Presence II. They're distributed by the CEC at https://cec.sonus.ca/ or through alternative vendors (try to use Netscape to browse their site, Internet Explorer doesn't seem as happy with it for me).

What makes these discs special is that a lot of diverse works are put into one package. Some of the more established anthologies have a maximum of five or seven composers and works (I'm thinking of the Wergo or CDCM series), but the CEC's anthologies go for distinctive shorter works, accompanied with terse notes which leave little room for aggrandizing commentary. The CEC's publications also have to be bilingual which promotes an effective use of space.

I have only one minor problem with the CEC and that is that the booklets fall out of the paper CD billfolds too easily. But I am grateful for the considerate and compact packaging. Fortunately all the details are up on their website.

I could go on extensively about each of the four sets here, but I will be brisk. These are all good anthologies, and any of them are worth snapping up.

Cache 2000 is a single disc of 14 varied works, just part of a larger CEC effort to support young and emerging sound artists of Canada. The composers and their works are presented alphabetically: David BEREZAN: Gathering; Nicolas BORYCKI: Le Diable au Teint Orageux; Christian BOUCHARD: tonicité; Jef CHIPPEWA: Duo; Yves GIGON: Crickpet; Michael GUREVICH: Soft White; Mark J. HANNESSON: Burdizzo; Christien LEDROIT: Miasmata; Mathieu MARCOUX: Corporation; Daniel ROMANO: Cosmos; Julien ROY: Rémanence (Remix); Warren SPICER: Singing of a Speaking Summer Swelter; Ian STEWART: Surveillance; Ivan ZAVADA: Relation Diplomatik.

From the beginning you will notice how these composers have a commanding use of the sound spectrum. Sounds and gestures appear all over the stereo spectrum, and the variety within each piece is diverse. And yes, these pieces don't seem to dwell exclusively in either the pure computer or pure concrete domain. I really like this disc, so if I don't mention every piece on it, it's purely for reasons of space. The opening three pieces make and excellent set: Berezan's Gathering, Borycki's Le Diable au Teint Orageux and Bouchard's tonicité. Gathering and Le Diable au Teint Orageux describe intriguing spaces. tonicité starts with the recognizable sound of a large truck maneuvering, and the whole piece seems to dissect this sound pulling out a deep drone and making the truck's horn into a saxophone (or maybe I'm being tricked into hearing this). Gurevich's Soft White begins a casual poem with saxophone plus multiphonics and assorted electronic processing which turns kind of R-rated all of a sudden. The longer works by Roy and Zavada are entrancing as they course though textures and places effortlessly, and the appearance of text in Zavada's Relation Diplomatik is effective and surprising. Not all of these works are easily explainable: Ledroit's Miasmata starts with a handful of sounds and creates a set of expectations that are thwarted by the remainder of the piece. This is a great disc, and we should look forward to more work by these artists and the continuance of this CEC series in the future.

Presence II is a 2CD anthology of 34 works from 32 composers from 11 countries. The diversity is overwhelming and it's hard to single out individual works. They're all arranged alphabetically: Jorge ANTUNES: La beauté indiscrète d'une note violette; Alastair BANNERMAN: In th'air or th'earth; Peter BATCHELOR: Velocity; Steve BRADLEY: "volalle melodie vi to trot" or "fowl melody to trot"; Chin-Chin CHEN: Points of No Return; Jef CHIPPEWA: DUO; Ian CHUPRUN: To many moments passed and Reading Allowed (PA 11); Gordon FITZELL: Zipper Music II; Martín Alejandro FUMAROLA: ARGOS and SET IN; Thomas GERWIN: 6 Aphorisms; Yves GIGON: Éphémère; Barbara GOLDEN: Whipping the Boys; Martin GOTFRIT: A Palaver with Procrustes (ex.); Otto JOACHIM: Three Electronic Sketches; Suk Jun KIM: sudden cry (ex.); Sylvi MACCORMAC: Spirit Wheels: Journey (part 1 of a puppet opera); Kevin MACLEOD: pacific; Diana MCINTOSH: Climb to Camp One; Dugal MCKINNON: Horizont im Ohr (ex.); Adrian MOORE: Soundbodies: Bodypart; David PRIOR: Somewhere Submarine (5th Movement); Jean ROUTHIER: Stereotyped Latter-Day Opinion; Antti SAARIO: B-Side; Dave SOLURSH: We; Jørgen TELLER: H a e i o u y æ ø å pt. 2 (ex.); Ben THIGPEN: step, under (ex.); Todor TODOROFF: Voices Part I (version stéréo); Pascale TRUDEL: Ce n'est pas ici; Hans TUTSCHKU: extrémités lointaines (ex.); Annette Vande GORNE: Amoroso: Vox Alia, 2e mouvement; Chris WIND: to be led; Daniel ZIMBALDO: Au-delà du miroir

Where to start? Bradley's "volalle melodie vi to trot" or "fowl melody to trot" is very, very disturbing: under or over a text that seems to be foreign language instruction we hear parents of young children at their wits end. Fitzell's Zipper Music II (an earlier version is on DISContact II below) is a nifty exploration of the sounds a zipper can make. McIntosh's Climb to Camp One is built from the sounds of climbing equipment being used inside an amplified piano but it doesn't recall ostensibly similar works by Cowell or Cage. I'm partial to the 3 short works by Joachim (the oldest works in the set) which explore the filtering of computer generated sounds. Solursh's We extracts some neat noises out of water, while Teller's H a e i o u y æ ø å pt. 2 (ex.) gets mileage from laughter. Of course I like the seemingly random collage effects of Trudel's Ce n'est pas ici and am wonderfully at a loss to explain what the crowd noise, fire, marching band and nature noises are all about. There are many works here, and this is an easy anthology to pop in the CD player and savour.

Stepping back to 1997, Presence is a 2CD anthology of 23 composers. Some of the many good pieces that jump out are Tape Measure in which Steve BRADLEY has played a Verdi LP with a sewing machine needle attached to a tape measure. No, you can't hear the Verdi, but it's with childlike fascination that you will hear some micro-level gurgling and rumbling. James HARLEY contributes a long work, Voyage, a grand arc of sound, intricate and spacious. Monique JEAN's If finds an essay in a simple spoken phrase, and in Squeaky Chair Christopher K. KOENIGSBERG finds a symphony in, yes, a squeaky chair. Jean ROUTHIER's Face à claques is a deviant piece of assemblage, something to do with things overheard we shouldn't be privy to.

Also still available is DISContact! II from 1995 that offers 51 short works on 2 CDs. The CEC makes somewhat limited quantities of their productions and this one was reissued in 1997. This is an enriching anthology filled with works created by members of the CEC. The brief works pack in variety and contrast, as well as varieties of technique and sound worlds. Spoken political pieces, song settings, inscrutable noise works, musique concrète and collage are well represented and thriving in the hands of these composers.

Written by Grant Chu Covell - LaFoliaEd@aol.com

© 2002

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