Francis Dhomont

Jalons

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Unlike most of Francis Dhomont's previous album (including Forêt Profonde and Cycle du Son, his last two), Jalons is not comprised of a single cycle -- it's not even a theme-related collection. The composer's talent for telling a tale through sound and voice manipulation was crucial to the impact some of his earlier records made (Sous le Signe d'un Soleil Noir, Forêt Profonde again). One needs to approach Jalons differently. Well sequenced, thanks to a succession of long (11 to 15 minutes) and short pieces, it still isn't the captivating, immersive listening experience its predecessors provided. Furthermore, Dhomont's followers will most likely already have one or two of these pieces, as many first appeared on compilation albums. And yet, Dhomont remains a first-rate storyteller and all the pieces included here deserve a place on one of his solo discs, even though they somehow fell through the cracks of earlier projects. In addition to their avian titles, Vol d'Arondes" (1999) and "Drôles d'Oiseaux" (1985-1986) have been revised in 2001. The first shares base elements with the second, a rare example of exclusively electronic music by Dhomont (it was also a first exploration of the "forest" theme developed in his masterpiece already mentioned twice in this review). "En Cuerdas" uses classical guitar sounds contributed by Arturo Parra. A self-standing piece, it also exists in a rewritten form as a tape-and-guitar concerto (see Arturo Parra's album Parr(a)cousmatique). The best work in this set is "Lettre de Sarajevo," a moving piece on "the horror and the shame" (quote the liner notes) that represented the Yugoslavian war in the mid-'90s. Only Dhomont -- and maybe two or three more composers from within the academic sphere -- could have broken out of concerns of plasticity and esthetics to tackle a political issue and come up with music so profoundly human.

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