Frankenstein Symphony

Asphodel
ASP 0978
1997
CD
1 disc
Out of print
4 December 1997
By MP in Vital #106 (Netherlands), December 4, 1997

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“I doubt if it will ever be surpassed in its excellence.”

Certified hard chill for those with big maracas, the Frankenstein Symphony was constructed in true DJ-style by Francis Dhomont, an undisputed leader in electroacoustic music and an undeniable influence on so many working within this fjord. Franky (for it is he) sourced much from some of the best contemporary electroacoustic music to create this ‘hybrid thing in four movements.’ Works by 22 composers, some of whom are or were Dhomont’s students, were put onto the chopping block, sections were selected, severed and then spliced together with all of the frightening tools that science has made available. Some layering did occur, but Franky NEVER even got close to the racks of processing gear, LEDs blinking so invitingly, which probably line his living room, so no additional filtering, transpositions or internal editing was used.

Regular scanners of this screensheet may be aware of how close electroacoustic music lies to the heart of my ear. Many of the composers whose compositions were incorporated in this sublime CD are heroes of mine; Ned Bouhalassa, Annette Vande Gorne, Claude Schryer, Roxanne Turcotte, Yves Daoust, Stéphane Roy, Robert Normandeau and Mr Dhomont himself. Most of the composers’ works have appeared at one time or another on that very definitive Canadian label empreintes DIGITALes. A short while ago Asphodel released one of the best drone compilations ever titled, A Storm of Drones, a triple set, the first of which contained excerpts from works released on empreintes DIGITALes.

The idea behind this exciting, effective and most cunning stunt, the Frankenstein Symphony will no doubt now be copied by cats trying to be cool and even spooky; I doubt if it will ever be surpassed in its excellence.

blogue@press-255_1 press@255_1
17 November 1997
By George Zahora in Splendid E-Zine (USA), November 17, 1997

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“Suffice to say it’s amazing.”

Yes, this disc is full of music inspired by Mary Shelley’s famed novel — but not in the typical manner. Rather, the four pieces here have been assembled, à la Frankenstein’s creature, from bits and pieces of other, in this case musical, entities. To extend the metaphor somewhat, these newborn creations have a thoroughly different set of perceptions than music birthed by more conventional means. The works of 22 composers have been visited, sampled and juxtaposed here. The results are varied. Allegro the opener, is full of wet, mechanical noises interspersed with haunting, sustained harmonic tones; it later dips into a deep, dark cellar of doom, emerges into the evening air and drifts warily across the sonic landscape, interacting with the beings it finds there. Andante combines drumming, gamelan bells and other environmental sounds into a palpable island of intermittent mechanical serenity. Scherzo combines instruments, spoken words, city sounds and animal noises into a nightmare ballet of distended perceptions and misbegotten beings, dying slowly amidst birds and frogs. And the Finale is even more nerve-wracking, full of brilliant stereo imaging and sonic confrontations that defy description. I can no more do justice to these works within a few sentences than I can claim to truly appreciate the juxtaposition of artists, works and compositional statements. Longtime Splendid readers will notice some familiar names — Stéphane Roy, Robert Normandeau — among the source material, which is a nice bonus. But really, writing about this disc is like combining the pieces from a dozen jigsaw puzzles and trying to describe what you assemble. Suffice to say it’s amazing.

blogue@press-249_5 press@249_5