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CD Feature/ Vincent Bergeron: "Philosophie Fantasmagorique"

img  Tobias

Early this year, we published an interview with composer Noah Creshevsky. Shortly after anouncing it, I received a mail by Canadian artist Vincent Bergeron: If Creshevsky was of interest to us, certainly his (Bergeron's) music should be, too – and would we be interested in listening to his latest album? It was at that moment, in the very instant of reading this mail, that the background to his music suddenly became clear to me.

Which is not to say that I did not enjoy his previous offering, „L'Art du Désarroi“. A mosaique-esque program of cut-up chamber music, cyber-chansons, hickupping melodies and complex rhythmic webs of beats and counterpoints, it was equally a work of the Avantgarde and a poignant statement of individualism, a lucid manifesto of defiance and a poetic avowal of wanting to shape something new. What slipped my mind at the time was its proximity to the ideas and aesthetics of Hyperrealism, a tendency occupied with establishing supernatural instrumentalists and physically impossible performances: Bergeron was building a shining parallel galaxy of sound from snippets of what others called reality – a world, which was as alien as it was alluring.

Meanwhile, slavishly following the ideas of Hyperrealism were not his cup of tea. "I do not care for virtuosos. I really don't", Bergeron explains, "In fact, I'm only interested in the new harmonies and tempo, not the flashy aspects." Instead, he prefers the use of the term "Impossible Music!" (note the exclamation mark!) for his work, a style he has even written a sort of definition and manifesto for, posted on his MySpace account.

The exciting aspect of „L'Art du Désarroi“  was that it presented a highly complex construct in the context of what was essentially a Pop album. Bergeron's nasal voice haunted these pieces like a friendly ghost, funneling a bewildering sense of personality into otherwhise confounding compositions. This tendency has now become eve more pronounced on „Philosophie Fantasmagorique“, which may at least partially be explained by its long and impressive list of guests: Marco Oppedisano on Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Daniel Knox and Fabienne Lucet on Vocals as well as a host of others.

But foremost, the reason why „Philosophie Fantasmagorique“ has turned out confusingly accessible, lies in Vincent Bergeron's more concretised sense of song. There are memorable motives on all of these seven dream-like orchestrated tracks, parenthesised by two a capella performances. Bergeron hums along to soundscapes composed of psychedelic guitars, atonal violins and marimba sequences. More and more, quotes from classical music and contemporary music are interspersed and made more coherent by electronic echoes, groovy abstractions and technoid translations: There is a flow and fluency to this work, which had been more or less absent from his previous offerings. His melodies often appear to be derrived from his lyrics – but the words do not seem to matter in a literal sense.

The aspect of hyperrealim has waned and given way to a music which sounds like a telepathic contortion of other genres: Add beats and raps to it and it turns into a kind of proto-futuristic HipHop. Played by an ensemble, it would morph into a visionary new music statement. And deprived of its twists and turns, it nestles comfortably in a space of progressive rock. As it is, it uses these allusions to its advantage by reflecting upon them from a unique position of potentiality. Almost catchy, it is utterly detached from anything that is going on in these scenes – or any other for that matter.

Certainly, the idealistic bond with Creshevsky is still intact on some of these tracks, when the hypthetical members of Bergeron's band are lifting off on wings of obscure techniques. But for most of its duration, comparisons are out of line. Bergeron has created a style which is recognisable, polarising and yet with the potential of uniting warring factions under the same roof. If someone were to ask me for an album of demanding, daunting yet dreamy and delicate as well as utterly idiosyncratic music, I would recommend „Philosophie Fantasmagorique“.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Vincent Bergeron at MySpace

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