Review

MP, Vital, no. 69, March 1, 1997

Francis Dhomont was born in 1926 and studied under, amongst others, Nadia Boulanger and Charles Koechlin. His theoretical texts and essays are regularly published in various international journals, he lectures regularly and is the author of many radio programmes for national Canadian radio. He has received numerous prestigious awards and now divides his time between Québec and France, teaching electroacoustic composition and theory. These two releases are part of the same group of works titled “Cycle of Depths” (Cycle des profondeurs), which is comparable to his previous “Cycle of Wanderings” (Cycle de l’errance), not only available on empreintes DIGITALes but also on BVHAAST, a Dutch label partly lorded over by Willem Breuker.

Sous le regard d’un soleil noir or “Under The Glare of A Black Sun” to folks like you and I was originally produced in 1979-80, completed in 1981 and since then has won a bunch of awards for electroacoustic composition. It was inspired by the works of British psychoanalyst Ronald D Laing (author of The Politics of Experience and The Divided Self and one of the first in his profession to explore the potential of LSD in analysis), and tells the story of a slow descent into madness. The spoken texts are quoted from the works of Laing, Plato, Kafka and Buchner. The piece makes us share the anxiety, anguish and solitude of the schizophrenic, attempting to present us with a sonorous image of a (mostly) inaccesible world. Laing himself once said “I cannot experience your experience, or vice versa.” Dhomont presents the experience he thinks they (schizophrenics) have, constructing a more general myth through which the ‘normal’ man may discover his own schizoid traits. Sous le regard d’un soleil noir tells us about ourselves, about the terrifying solitude that faces every man, as if we are sitting at the end of a cavern capable only of looking ahead. There is certainly an element of underlying danger here — not from external forces but rather from those sharp, shiny, sterile, surgical razors with which we perform psychological surgery on ourselves as we lay on a ramshackle operating table constructed out of our belief systems which itself is placed in a dimly lit corner of a huge reverberant space. Bats in the belfry. Too many toys in the attic. No room to spare in this warehouse where ominous chords pace the staves… This is the domain of archetypes.

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