Champ (10 opérations) is the solo work of a pillar of Montreal’s 1970s free improvisation scene. A skilled improviser, this piece is indeed a composition, recorded in 1977, and stands as a momentous and perplexing document of that time. This suite of compositions is a shockingly singular exploration of experimental extended technique for the cello. Despite being solo compositions, one can hear the influence of years of free improvisation, of the dialogue between artist and his instrument. A remarkable documentation of Bouliane’s creativity and endurance as a performer and improviser.
“Champ (10 opérations)” – Extrait (Excerpt)
As a young man in the early 1970s, Yves Bouliane studied double bass with Roland Desjardin at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, though he’d already had a few years improvising on the scene with Robert M. Lapage (clarinetist/saxophonist, musique actuelle composer, as well as cartoonist). Bouliane briefly performed with the Jazz libre du Quebec ensemble (see TNZR 51), and along with some comrades founded Montreal’s Experimental Music Workshop, an important node in Montreal’s vibrant creative scene of that period. Though Bouliane switched gears to study painting (the artwork of this album is his), he never abandoned music. In 1985 Bouliane recorded a bass/drum duo Masse au 1/3 contrôle with John Heward, who is still gigging and is without a doubt one of the best improvised drummers I’ve come across.
In 1977 Bouliane composed Champ (10 interventions) and Champ (10 opérations), for bass and cello, respectively. The former will see a release interpreted by Ensemble SuperMusique in the near future. The history of the latter is something a bit different. Rather than wonder how to realize such unique compositions, we have Bouliane’s original 1977 recording. At the time, it was released in an edition of only 10 handmade cassettes. Tenzier, with some help from Los Discos Enfantasmes tape label, has paid tribute to this fact with a limited tape release of their own. Tenzier invited two contemporary Montreal musicians, J-S Truchy ( Fly Pan Am, Set Fire To Flames, most recently Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche), and Alexandre St-Onge (Shalabi Effect, Feu Thérèse), to contribute their own reinterpretations and presented a limited edition of 54 cassette facsimiles of the original to accompany the release. Their reinterpretations capture the intensity and spirit of the original, but coaxing rather different sounds from their instruments.
Champ (10 opérations) is truly remarkable as a sustained exploration of a limited field. The term “extended techniques” associated with free improvisation conjures what by now seems a recognizable (if not codified) idiom, but the playing on display here is incredibly restrained despite the fact that Bouliane never ceases moving, and there always seems to be multiple sounds occurring at once. Rarely, however, is a string bowed or plucked. Scraping, banging, implications, constant movement are harassed and directed, spreading out into a fertile field of sound. (Joseph Sannicandro)
« À propos (de) »; a musical homage prepared by Alexandre St-Onge and Jean-Sébastien Truchy (in collaboration with the Montreal label Los Discos Enfantasmes) is now sold out, but you can listen to two excerpts at the links below.