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Vivianne Asselin


1. [4] Daniel Feist - Diptych: Auxferd Nightburr'd November 2 a.m.; Our Child - 2'50"

This highly original piece explores the relationship of spoken text, the meaning of words, as reflected by their metamorphosis/translation into sound. A bird’s chirping introduces itself as the initial, central character. Next, the human narrator is added, his words alluding to the "crazy old bird singing in the middle of the night". The voice is processed to reproduce sonically the meaning of its words, as the man refers to the bird as "disconnected", his own voice experiences disconnection, as it is truncated into multiple sound entities then put back together with intersections of silence. Repetition is also heavily used, of the same voice and words, yet with different effects applied to each sample, such as pitch shifting and panning. After one minute, silence is introduced as a bridge into a different section, which is characterized by the presence of a wider variety of sounds and higher simultaneous activity. The voice is new, and its modulations are more extreme, and new sounds are superimposed upon them, such as the rippling music of a rain stick. Interaction between the different voice elements is gradually increased, as these evolve yet never reach the critical point where they may merge as one mass structure. The composition is terminated quite simply, with the voice of the child expressing disinterest and restlessness in face of the monologue of which she was the main subject. To conclude, a very interesting composition, with a clearly defined structure and just the right amount of subtlety.

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2. [12] Er Polen - .TRANse.SEPTem. [Machina Mundi In Septem SÊc¸lum] - 3'

Definitely the darkest piece of the DISContact! II compilation, Er Polen’s TRANse.SEPTem. is a disturbing composition communicating extremely apocalyptic religious tones. Obviously focusing on voice as its primary sound source and medium to communicate its message, the piece utilizes different types of voices to convey different human emotions. From the child haltingly reading a text, to the deep, expressive male voice preaching with the intensity of a madman a dark message of dread. This voice is intermittently interrupted by a heavily processed voice, which possesses a metallic, inhuman quality, and serves to emphasize the words of the preacher. Throughout the piece, deep reverberations of ominous thunder are layered over the ever-present atmospheric music, as well as a low, echoing gong, and the occasional ripping and distortion. Panning is used to give the impression that the listener is surrounded by these menacing voices, with no escaping their message of doom.

3. [17] Pascale Trudel - Le Poisson qui cache l'oiseau - 2'53"

Le Poisson qui cache l’oiseau is a walk through two very different yet similar slices of life. Consisting entirely of recognizable sounds recorded by Pascale Trudel in public parks and zoos, we can distinguish that three different environments are explored. A storm can be heard brewing in the background as the soon-to-be-soaking composer, walks, then runs, on the gravel path of a city park, startling a cat, whose plaintive meows seem to lament its lack of a decent refuge to escape the elements. Very subtle insect sounds in the background would hint that we are nearing night time. Next we hear the cries of animals, monkeys and birds, which possess that sound quality given by an enclosed space, echoing off the cement walls of zoo cages. A waterfall just adds to the evident human attempt at simulating the animals’ natural environment. Immediately after, we enter another kind of zoo, what sounds like a cafeteria, with dishes and kitchen instruments clashing, and a homogenized din of human chatter. The author then seems to exit and end her journey at seaside, with the crashing of waves moved by the wind. Overall, this is a piece, which focuses on a journey, the sounds used barely processed to create a sense of movement and of reality.

4. [18] John Winiarz - Jack in a (Music) Box - 2'55"

Although not as common a toy these days, the jack-in-the-box is as obvious a symbol we can find for childhood, with all it’s joy and innocence. The overall quality of the sounds uses in this piece is clear, clean and free of any distortion or confusion. Our memories are awoken with the bright tinkling of a metal xylophone, played with carefree abandon, as a child would play. The tapping of a plastic drum is also heard in the background, as well as a toy harmonica or accordion, the high notes of a flute and the subtle twinkle of a metal wind chime. The beauty and hope of youth is thus proclaimed in this short and incredibly sweet piece.

5. [20] Gustav Ciamaga - Possible Spaces No. 1 - 2'42"

I positively loved Gustav Ciamaga’s Possible Spaces No.1, a very airy, uplifting piece, with just the right amount of intrigue. Each sound occupies its own space, hardly ever juxtaposed with another, giving a very clean feel. The way the sounds were placed, panned, also creates a sensation of distance, as of jumping from one floating solid point to another in a limitless void. The notes are dissonant with respect to each other, refusing to follow any recognizable melodic structure, yet at the same time never inharmoniously clashing. The basic sound source can be recognized as being the piano, with some higher notes possessing the qualities of a harpsichord. A deeper, cymbal-like sound occasionally resonates in the background, as well as the rarer wooden percussion sound. This is a piece which simply seems to exist for itself, and which could go on forever without ever reaching an obvious ending. I’d like to add that towards the ending it reminded me of one of my all-time favourite movies, Blade Runner, whose soundtrack possesses the same dreamlike quality.

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