AKOUSMA @ EMPAC
Sometimes known as “cinema for the ear,” acousmatic music is a compositional form traditionally presented in the dark to help focus and intensify the hearing of the audience. Using dozens of loudspeakers hung in a ring surrounding the listeners, composers and performers manipulate the pieces in real time for an all-encompassing experience as electronic sound is moved around the space.
Highlighting composers from the 2012 AKOUSMA festival, now in its ninth year in Montréal, AKOUSMA @ EMPAC will explore both the traditional acousmatic musical style, as well as a more hybrid version with performers on stage.
Featuring performer/composers Nicolas Bernier, Richard Chartier, Jean Francois Laporte, Martin Tétreault, and Louis Dufort.
AKOUSMA is produced by Réseaux, a composer-run organization dedicated to presenting and commissioning electroacoustic music since 1991. Montréal is the North American hub for electronic music, offering a wide range of festivals spanning dance music, acoustics research, and everything in between.
Martin Tétreault, an internationally renowned Montréal DJ and improviser, originally came from the milieu of the visual arts. His path has been marked by various productions on compact disc and live performances with a range of collaborators: Diane Labrosse, René Lussier, Jean Derome, Michel F Côté, I8U, Otomo Yoshihide, Kevin Drumm, Xavier Charles, Ikue Mori, and many more. He explores the intrinsic qualities of the turntable like the sound of the motor and interference. He also uses needles, prepared surfaces (with thanks to John Cage), and small electronic instruments. The bruitiste approach of remaining analogical has allowed him to leave behind the question “But what about copyright?” When he feels the need for a break from music, he goes back to the visual arts, where he sands, scrapes, and cuts up books and magazines.
Nicolas Bernier flows from musique concrète to live electronics, post-rock, noise improv, performance, installation, and video art, while also working with dance, theater, and moving images. His focus is on the balance between the cerebral and the sensual, and between organic sound sources and digital processing. His sound is somewhere between the old and the new. It is electronic music made from objects of the past: typewriters, old machines, tuning forks, soundscape memories, and musical instruments.
Bernier’s works have been of interest for Prix Ars Electronica (Austria), Sónar (Spain), Mutek (Canada), DotMov Festival (Japan), and Transmediale (Germany), and have been published on labels like Crónica (Portugal), Ahornfelder (Germany), leerraum (Switzerland), and Home Normal (UK).
He is currently working on a PhD in sonic arts at the University of Huddersfield (UK).
Richard Chartier is considered one of the key figures in the current of reductionist electronic sound art, which has been termed both “microsound” and neo-modernist. Chartier's minimalist digital work explores the interrelationships among the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception, and the act of listening itself. His sound works/installations have been presented in galleries and museums internationally including the Whitney Biennial, and he has performed his work live across Europe, Japan, Australia, and North America at digital art/electronic music festivals and exhibits. In 2000, he formed the recording label LINE and has since curated its continuing documentation of compositional and installation work by international sound artists/composers exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism.
In 2010, Chartier was awarded a Smithsonian Institution Artist Research Fellowship to explore the National Museum of American History’s collection of 19th-century acoustic apparatus for scientific demonstration.
Jean-François Laporte’s music is the result of working closely with the raw materials of sound, which come from the everyday environment or from both traditional and invented instruments. Drawing on this diversity of sound sources, Laporte works in multiple musical languages—from instrumental to electroacoustic—and also ventures into the exploration of random and improvised sounds.
Laporte also develops and makes musical instruments that produce unconventional sounds. He recently added robotic and computerized controls to some of his invented instruments (the Tu-Yo and the Bowls), giving them new autonomy and increasing their possibilities. In addition to works for invented instruments, he has composed a large number of works for conventional instruments including À l'Ombre d'un murmure, le Chant de l'inaudible, Êkhéô, and le chant des baleines.
Montréal composer Louis Dufort developed his style through electroacoustic music, and then turned his attention to mixed music and multimedia art, and has worked with a wide range of organizations, including the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ), the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM), the Quasar saxophone quartet and Bozzini string quartet, the Ensemble de flûtes Alizé, Réseaux, the Quebec Association for Creation and Research in Electroacoustics (ACREQ), and Chants Libres.
In 2001, Dufort received a mention from Prix Ars Electronica (Austria). In 2005, he was invited to work at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM) in Germany, and in 2007, he was a guest of Recombinant Media Labs (RML) in San Francisco. He has worked with choreographer Marie Chouinard since 1996, and their collaborations have been regularly acclaimed, including Body_Remix, which premiered at the Venice Biennial in 2005.
Dufort teaches at Montréal's Music Conservatory.