Francis Dhomont

Foret Profonde

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At age 70, electroacoustic composer Francis Dhomont released his magnum opus, the 58 minute piece Forêt Profonde (Deep Forest). The second installment of a cycle on psychoanalysis started in 1981 with Sous le Regard d'un Soleil Noir, this album/piece was inspired by Bruno Bettelheim's book on the meaning of fairy tales, The Uses of Enchantment. The piece unfolds over 13 parts. Seven are thematic and include an important use of speech to tie up the narrative, while the six other parts (the titles playing on the word "chambre") work as instrumental bridges. Dhomont accumulates excerpts from classic fairy tales (from Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers), bits of Shakespeare and other storytellers for adults, plus segments of Bettelheim's analysis, along with various testimonies. Some voices belong to actors, others are anonymous (including many children); some speak in French, English, Spanish, Italian, and German -- the whole "libretto" is translated in English. From the opening chorus of "once upon a time..." the listener is sucked into a mesmerizing sound world that shifts from the tender to the shizophrenic from the childlike to the claustrophobic with dizzying speed. Words and acousmatic sound events are closely intertwined, stemming a number of levels of interpretation that insures hundreds of fascinating listening experiences. Such richness and poetry had never been achieved before in a genre too often categorized as academic. There is nothing dry or affected here. Forêt Profonde is essential listening for anyone interested in tape music and one of the easiest points of entry for the newcomer or the curious bypasser.

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