Sometimes, the smallest tidbit of context can make a world of difference when it comes to interpreting art. One illustrative example that comes to mind is the powerful 1997 Derek Bailey and Min Tanaka Music and Dance album, where the listener is primarily attuned to Bailey’s guitar playing but even just a working knowledge of Tanaka’s presence helps establish a real-world setting in the mind of the listener.
Similarly, Ensemble SuperMusique’s 2019 Montreal Sonne l’image performance is also one of a multidisciplinary nature, and there is something about that framing that feels critical. Even if one doesn’t get their hands on a CD where the visual scores themselves are provided, the music takes on a new shape when the imagination can vaguely infer the imagery that is being responded to. This phenomenon speaks to a desire the spectator has to feel connected to the process itself, where the stage almost seems to disappear and the hierarchy of a concert hall vanishes. But what happens when one chooses to listen ignorantly, fixating on what we’ve been given rather than extrapolating?
The music itself has a definite determinate sway to it in terms of duration and select composed passages, but this is an inspiring display of collective improvisation. Throughout three movements, all individual elements are interwoven but there is never overt disruption. Everyone breathes together, and nobody takes a solo. Communal contributions take precedence over individual objectives. Patience and timing ensures fluidity.