Jean Routhier

Endurance

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The electro-acoustic works of Jean Routhier belong somewhere between the music produced by academic circles and the quote-heavy, debauched experiments of avant-garde DJs and electronicians. In short, Routhier's works have depth without becoming dead serious. Endurance summarizes a decade of activity as a composer. First listeners are treated to two highly dynamic pieces featuring Ambiances Magnétiques drummer Michel F. Côté and Christof Migone, one of the strangest musical beings living on this earth. "Sous les Décombres d'un Brève Hémorragie Champêtre" ("Under the Ruins of a Short Pastoral Hemorrhage," title says it all, right?) packs a lot of punch within its three minutes of duration and opens a sequence of seven short pieces, each an enigma in itself, each a jewel of precision and whimsicality -- like painter Salvador Dalí's miniatures. In contrast, the 29-minute "Écran de Fumée (NurgeRemix)" appears like a hazy, overstretched piece. Casual conversations are sampled, recombined, and embedded in a musical frame that seems to go nowhere. The voices are often mixed very low, making it difficult to follow a possible plot (there is none, really, and most voices speak French). Of course, the title which translates to "smoke screen" can explain the composer's intentions, but in any case the piece takes too long to make its point. The last two pieces are better, especially "Coco le Hujolote"; what appears to be manipulated train whistles weave a strange but very tangible atmosphere. Endurance is not your usual CD of electro-acoustic music. It has originality and something maverick in its approach, both of which make it very appealing, despite its flaws.

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