Ensemble d’oscillateurs | 4 Compositions
Under the artistic direction of Nicolas Bernier the Montréal-based Ensemble d’oscillateurs delivers some compelling sonic sinewaves. On États altérés the lows are so sunken it makes the floor quake a little. This work, composed by Xavier Ménard (2017), it reminds me of dial-up tones for internet access that we left in the 90’s. The atmosphere is minimal and quite spare – though this resonates in a sneaky way. Translated from the French this refers to ‘altered states’ and by the way in which the soundwaves are being split it does feel like an experiment on the human psyche. The final minutes shifts with a layered feedback, static, white noise – drawn in parallel lines. Testing….testing.
Kevin Gironnay‘s 2016 piece Ignis Fatuus (Solis) explores the coastering waves of a single note, a bit animated and bright. The reverb is mostly kept to a minimum as he layers two frequencies upon each other, along with a low rumbling drone. It instantly makes me think of sounds that would be associated with modern dance for some unexplained reason. The movements, up and down, slowly shrinking like a flower after sunlight. An industrial flutter enters as surface noise but slowly starts to obliterate the other layers in its mass. He’s tuning in and out from various playful frequencies, awkwardly bending tones into sinewaves that only non-human species might perceive. The sounds of falling from above, simply falling are provocative.
Next is a brand-new work from Francisco Meirino titled Shaping Things (A Simple Spectrum). Instead of falling, his tonal acoustics are rising high. The listener is made to feel both at a distance and brought right upon the velocity of the action. It reminds me some of fireworks, the type the rise and fall in droopy bright patterns across and black sky. All the microsounds here set this apart from the typical ear-splitter by balancing the ultra vibrant highs with the active muffled bottom end. This is not the record for the casual listener, best appreciated by those who can understand composed noise. Goin’ up!
Lastly is SYN-Phon by Candaş Şişman (2013-18), it’s a collective arrangement of a graphic score used with his permission. This one is a bit brassy in the low range, as in that sound made by many jazz drummers when using the very fine edge of a symbol to conjure a sound. Though here there’s this sizzling electronic wave of feedback and revved purr that is incredibly infectious. By and far my standout track of these selections as it mimics computer bleeps and controllers – keeping a certain circumstantial human vs bot feel. It’s where technology is headed, so we must face the reality of the future now. ‘Syn’ which is short for synthetic I’d guess in this case seems to be a play on artificial sounds, invented, and synthesized. The tiny sounds and silences are like explorer units set to do, or mimic for or like humans. It’s an animated, at times spat out, computated set of manufactured sounds that’s also a cerebral mix offering this unique percussive, vibrating tickle.