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CD Feature/ V.A.: "Montreal Sound Matter"

img  Tobias

Just like Classical music, the experimental scene has a bit of a marketing problem. It gets worse the more that pieces are made up mainly of sound instead of melodies and harmonies. After all, most people like to hear the character of the composer shine through in his art and popular myth has it that this is impossible in genres such as musique concrete, field recordings, noise or even drones. This collection of pieces from eight different Montreal-based musicians does away with this kind of prejudice and offers ways to circumvent the problem – simply by being more personal than the rest.

It all begins with the basic concept set up by composer Francisco Lopez, who was born in Spain but to whom Montreal has become a second home over the last couple of years. All artists invol ed were asked to contribute to a pool of sounds by wandering through the city and recording its breathings, mutterings and utterings, hollers and whispers. Later on, this source provided the basic building blocks for their music. It would have been easy to simply aim at an aural representation of their surroundings, to capture what sourrounds them sound-wise and to merely reconstruct it in the studio. Yet what Lopez was looking for went deeper - a project, which would tap into the town’s sonic potential and create short episodes of birth, life and death, a sort of miniature model, which could emulate Montreal’s abilitiy to establish some kind of reality. On the other hand, by transferring this task to several independently operating artists, the individual was suddenly given the opportunity of freely selecting these audio-objects and of guiding them in a distinct direction – or of making them follow a certain set of rules and of observing their behavious. The result is a diverse disc, which touches on almost all of the styles mentioned in the opening paragraph, yet never weighs heavy on the listener and manages to bring us closer to the personalities of their creators without saying a single word (or boring one with page-long biographies). Helene Prevost loves bathing in the lively commotion of the streets, while Steve Heimbecker enjoys a relaxed break with the sounds of nature never far away. Louis Dufort and Thomas Phillips are both fascinated by the mystery behind the facade, even though Dufort is obviously tempted by sudden signs of significance and Phillips by more general moods. The list goes on, with each track offering new surprises and insights. And at the end of each one, the shutter of the lense closes for a few seconds just to open up again and zoom in on yet another world.

Through listening, you feel closer to the city and its people, even though what you’ve heard will neither show up in any tourist’s guide nor wait for you when you come to visit. Yet, thanks to the experiment’s parameters, this is in no way a disadvantage nor a contradiction in terms. “Sound Matter” stands firmly as a testimony of the town’s ability to spark creativity, of its artists’ expressiveness and of the benefits of a personal approach in experimental music. And even though it may not solve the marketing problem completely, it is an extremely enjoyable disc by all means.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Pogus Productions

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