Stéphane Roy


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Seven years after Kaleidos, Stéphane Roy released his second album for empreintes DIGITALes, Migrations. The title provides the general theme for the three pieces and marks the end of a self-imposed exile for the composer, who after five years in St. Louis, Missouri, came back to Montreal. "Appartenances" ("Belongings") relates directly to this return home. Its composing was triggered by a rediscovery of the multiculturalism of the city. Its three movements hint at three different cultural groups (Celtic, Latin, Oriental) and its base material is subsumed from soundwalks in the streets. But "subsumed" is the key word here: "Appartenances" is not a soundwalk. Its textures are as electronic as they are acoustic, multiculturalism being reinvented through a use of real and synthesized sounds. Readings of excerpts from two well-known French poems -- Joachim du Bellay's "Heureux qui comme Ulysse" and Charles Baudelaire's "L'Invitation au Voyage" -- add a more tangible element of journeying and peregrination. The piece, 27-minutes long in all, holds a lot of secrets that unfold only through many listens. The element of travel is weaker in "Trois Petites Histoires Concrètes" ("Three Short Concrete Stories"), a suite dedicated to Pierre Schaeffer and composed for the 50th anniversary of musique concrète (in 1998). These are more immediate to grasp, and the first one, "Ruptures," shows the same kind of supple plasticity in sound found in Kaleidos. "Masques et Parades" ("Masks and Parades") is the strangest and most dynamic piece of this set. Inspired by the circus and the American pop culture, it draws on the transgressive emotions that are at the heart of the circus performance. Overwhelming in its first two movements, the music subsides in the third one, inspired by the art of the trapeze. Because of the French text in this third movement, some listeners will feel like they are missing something, but it actually adds little to the significance of the work. And it is a powerful work.

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