Mecha Fixes Clocks (Michel F. Côté)
& Records ET 09 (www.etrecords.net)
Atmospheric and ambient, but also audacious, Montreal percussionist/keyboardist and electronic manipulator Michel F. Côté uses a variety of sonic strategies to construct an exuberantly original nine-part sound world on “à l’inattendu les dieux livrent passage.” Accomplished in transforming directors’ and choreographers’ ideas into sound, as well as leading ad hoc bands such as this one, which generate a new meaning from his initials, the composer/arranger pushes and pulls the textures in a multi-stylistic fashion so that seemingly bland surfaces turn out to contain tough, multi-faceted cores.
Case in point is a track like ferveur fossile, where chunks and clicks from signal-processed timbres splutter and shrill while commenting upon Gordon Allen’s irregularly vibrated trumpet lines and the twangs from Bernard Falaise’ guitar. Arco string runs maintain the theme, although variants become looser, more strident and discordant as they come in contact with the buzzing electronics. Other pieces offer interludes of pseudo classicism via Pierre Yves-Martel’s viol de gambe or Jean Derome’s harmonized bass flute, only to have them sabotaged by Lori Freedman’s harsh bass clarinet slurs or abrasive wood scrapes from the percussionist. Overall it seems that sonic disruption is as much a part of Côté’s compositions as legato continuum.
This post-modern strategy is sardonically confirmed on au-delà de l’espace des petits oiseaux and more obviously on the concluding entre idéal et mental. On that track, string-laden samples, likely sourced by turntablist Martin Tétrault from Gone with the Wind composer Max Steiner LPs, are interrupted by plinking from live string players, motor-driven whines and clanks plus the percussionist’s cross pulses and opposite-sticking beats.