The Squid's Ear Magazine

Martel, Pierre-Yves: Engagement & Confrontation (Ambiances Magnetiques)

A solo session of Pierre-Yves Martel on prepared double bass with no over-dubs or post-processing.

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product information:

UPC: 771028114825

Label: Ambiances Magnetiques
Catalog ID: AM_148
Squidco Product Code: 6171

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2006
Country: Canada
Packaging: Cardstock foldover
Recorded at Happyrock International in Chelsea, Quebec, Canada, on October 4th-6th, 2005, by Ross Murray.


Pierre-Yves Martel-prepared doublebass

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"When asked once why he played the guitar in such an unorthodox way, the now late Derek Bailey simply proclaimed that he wanted to find out what the instrument could do. Over the four decades he devoted himself to the cause of non idiomatic improvised music, this unique artist never backed down from his uncompromising vision of pushing the boundaries of music-making beyond the tried an true. Not unlike John Cage for that matter, Bailey was just as much a philosopher-king, in his case of free improvisation rather than composition. Even if both men approached music from entirely different directions, each one was as averse to old ideas as they were welcoming of new ones, however far-fetched they appeared to be.

To do that requires a singular sense of determination (or "engagement" as one would say in French), but also a willingness to challenge or to confront, be it oneself, fellow musicians, even listeners. And therein lies the meaning of the title of this debut recording of Canadian double bassist Pierre-Yves Martel.

Nowadays, solo recordings are by no means exceptional, even for the contrabass. But what makes this side stand out from the rest is his concept of "preparing" the instrument in numerous ways, and to find out what it can do in such "altered" states. Beyond the bow and fingers, there are assorted paper-clips, rings, sticks, some directly put on the strings, others on the bridge. But what counts here is not so much the hardware, but the results, and these are no less than fascinating.

But the sounds reproduced here, with no overdubs, by the way, were captured via a multiple-miking system (ten in total), designed in conjunction with the session's soundman Ross Murray. With various mixes and pannings of signals, the listener is afforded a kind of auditory "trompe l'œil" (or "oreille", in this case), providing a variety of aural perspectives.

Inasmuch as its portent is conceptual, its intent is totally improvised. Indeed, the musician wanted to surprise himself during the recording, and let chance occurrences happen, something he refers to as "happy accidents."

Like any recording of improvised music, this one stems from a process (which evolved over a year and a half of experimentation), but one should not view it as an outcome, even less a final product. Quite to the contrary, this is but a first step for a musician of distinction as a player, accompanist and composer, and whose musical range extends from classical, to jazz and improv, and even to baroque and ancient music through his practice of the viola da gamba. And with his musical pedigree, who could doubt his commitment to music (i.e. the aforementioned "engagement"), and his readyness to confront all kinds of musical situations. But beyond all words, it is the music that best speaks for itself. Don't head off the confrontation, folks: this is one thoroughly engaging side of music."-Marc Chénard

Artist Biographies

"Pierre-Yves Martel. Born Vanier, Ontario, Canada, 1979. Residence: Montréal, Québec. Composer, Performer (viola da gamba, double bass, objects)

Following a unique artistic path, Pierre-Yves Martel is constantly renewing his musical identity and practice. Though a instrumentalist, he identifies himself first and foremost as a sound artist whose work oscillates between perpetual research and experimentation. It is in this spirit that he has revisited the viola da gamba, utilizing this traditional instrument in new contexts and thus reengaging it with the contemporary world. Having created an authentic musical language through non-conventional techniques and instrumental preparations, he also works outside of instrumental music altogether, using a variety of objects rife with new sonic possibilities, from contact-mics and speakers to motors, wheels, surfaces and textures."

-ActuelleCD (

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Track Listing:

1 Felt Clips 4:30

2 Cages 2:44

3 Fromage en crottes 2:48

4 Seems... far too... familiar 3:20

5 Benibraun 2:13

6 For D/C 3:54

7 Paper Clips, Please 3:40

8 Interlude no 1 :35

9 Monsieur Carignan 2:17

10 Eczema 1:52

11 Interlude no 2 :40

12 Correspondances domestiques 3:16

13 Mulo: Primo segmento 2:55

14 Mulo: Secondo segmento 2:31

15 Pneus semi-pneumatiques 2:04

16 L'atelier à Lamario 4:20

17 Dresser 1:17

18 Arrivals and Departures 3:28

Related Categories of Interest:

Ambiances Magnetiques
Musique Actuelle
May 2006
Improvised Music
Instruments with Preparations
Canadian Composition & Improvisation

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