Traces is an interesting album that slipped through the radar of the avant-garde community, mainly because it is the fruit of an unusual project. Percussionist Julien Grégoire and flutist Guy Pelletier both have a background in classical music and have been members of many Montréal-based classical and contemporary orchestras (both play in the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, for instance). It means that, like most musicians from this field, their names rarely come up in the public sphere. Traces was recorded for Mario Gauthier's Radio-Canada program L'Espace du Son, usually turned more toward sound art, and came out on XXI's very short-lived Actuel series. The five pieces presented here are multi-tracked compositions. Grégoire and Pelletier explore many acoustic sound effects, from creative sound diffusion (i.e., busy stereo panning) to the overlaying of microtonal flute parts in "Rêve de Thrace." The flutist uses some extended techniques pioneered by Robert Dick. The percussionist digs up the strangest sounds on this disc from a wide array of concert and "ethnic" percussion instruments. Each piece explores specific sonorities, but the experimental nature is harnessed to melodic and rhythmic developments. The playing occasionally locks up into contemporary classical rigidity, but the duo can "let go," as in the frivolous "Docteur Smith." All in all, an elegant and pleasant album that explores uncommon instrumentation.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture