Vincent Bergeron

Casse-Tête de l'Existence (2003-04)

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No matter how versed you are in experimental music, you have never heard anything quite like Vincent Bergeron's Casse-Tête de l'Existence (Puzzle of Existence). Imagine, if you will, plunderphonics coupled with progressive rock, and sample deconstruction and sound collage used as techniques to assemble hiccupping operas. What Bergeron does is rip samples from every possible source, including but not limited to records of free improvisation, musique concrète, contemporary music, folk music, and world music. He slices and dices them into tiny pieces, then, like a mosaic artist, glues these tiny pieces together into jagged but very well-structured songs, for which he writes lyrics and melodies. To make sure that the vocals fit in with the rapid-fire musical claudication, he also chops up and reassembles his voice. Since he sings in a half operatic, half mock-theatrical voice, and his music is rich in strings, percussion breaks, and a certain grandeur, the result sounds a lot like a bloodbath at a prog rock convention -- or the digital bastard child of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and Fantômas. "La Naissance," for instance, is mostly a reorganized string quartet with a stuttering lead melody strongly reminiscent of French prog rockers Ange, while the main source for "Spiritualité-Profanité" seems to be Alan Stivell fighting back a fit of Parkinson's with his Celtic harp. On the other hand, "Rêve-Réalité" contains a lot of free jazz samples. If the basic material tends to give a unique orientation to each piece, it seems there is no limit to what Bergeron can make his samples do. Profoundly disturbing but ceaselessly fascinating, Casse-Tête de l'Existence is oddness to the umpteenth degree. Obviously, the world is not ready for this. The album is available for free from the net label Webbed Hand.

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