(Small Scale Music)

I’m a sucker for musicians who create their own instruments, those who perhaps consider Harry Partch the patron saint of experimental composition. Montreal’s Philippe Lauzier is one of them, and yes, I’m therefore a sucker for the recording of his installation work, entitled DÔME. But first, the exciting news – Lauzier performs upon a contraption that he built himself “made of bells, zithers, motors and a Korg synthesizer.” The erstwhile saxophonist and clarinetist may have stepped out of his comfort zone a little bit here – you sort of have to teach yourself every new instrument, and if you’ve created that instrument, well, you have to start at the beginning and define the very parameters of that instrument’s abilities. It’s not like you can just grab a sax and read a manual and wail away like you’re in Huey Lewis and the News or something (or, uh, if you’re, like, John Coltrane). You have to discover the very sounds you’re able to conjure, and the limitations of timbre and tone you’re restricted to. But maybe DÔME, which captures a live performance at La Passe in Montreal on July 31, 2015, is a record of that discovery. Surely it’s like nothing you’ve heard before. For 34 minutes, on “Far Side” and “Far Out,” Lauzier drones in sonic mélange, the minimalist reverberations pinging about the confines of the room until they’re constant, infiltrating the space behind your eyelids and nesting there long after the tape ends. The passages are weird and otherworldly, difficult to pin down, offering glimpses into the vast possibility of musical arrangement. You have no other choice but to get caught up in it, even as it threatens to overwhelm in a wave of telephonic cacophony. It’s restrained and chaotic at once, tentative and unhinged, threatening to coalesce its identity and mass into sheer devastating resonance. DÔME is freaky and singular, a creative high point for tinkerers of the physical everywhere. I’d love to hear it with some sax accompaniment too, actually, if Lauzier is ever up for the remix treatment.

Philippe Lauzier
Small Scale Music

--Ryan Masteller