Bernard Gagnon, Musique électronique (1975-1983)

Born in 1953, Bernard Gagnon is a product of Quebec’s late 1960s underground music scene. In 1973, the Montreal-based musician turned to music theory, studied with Iannis Xenakis and met John Cage. That year, his band Mergélèpe-Guorismogue joined Montreal’s Atelier de musique expérimentale (AME), an organization created by Raymond Gervais, Michel Di Torre, Yves Bouliane and Robert M. Lepage to promote improvised music. Two years later, Gagnon began experimenting with electronic sounds as a member of Kevin Austin’s MetaMusic. At the turn of the decade, he studied under alcides lanza, Mariano Etkin and Paul Pedersen. It is then that he composed and recorded his first electroacoustic pieces using the electronic music studio at Mcgill University. In 1981, he was awarded both the CAPAC Hugh Le Caine Award and Radio-Canada’s Prix national de composition électro-acoustique. Gagnon then joined Cham Pang, a multimedia electro collective, and reconnected with Lepage with whom he recorded and performed. The 1980s saw Gagnon turn to musique actuelle explorations which culminated with groups such as Stylo (with Lepage and Jean Derome) and La Flore Laurentienne (Lepage, Derome and Guillaume Dostaler among others).

Tenzier is proud to announce the release of an album dedicated to Bernard Gagnon’s electronic music (1975-1983).

Format: LP, 180 gr – Limited edition
Bernard Gagnon: Music
Félix Morel: Artwork

“Gwendoline Descendue!” – Excerpt

“Sea Lunch” – Excerpt

“Totem Ben” – Excerpt

“Improvisation” – Excerpt

“Dictée” – Excerpt

“Nous sommes tous des Cré Basile” – Excerpt

“Gololo-Mashta” – Excerpt

“This lovingly produced and gorgeously packaged LP contains seven previously unreleased electronic pieces that Gagnon realized at McGill University’s Electronic Music Studio. Leading off the proceedings is “Gwendoline Descendue!,” an electronics/tape piece crafted from snippets of Moog modular tones and a variety of instruments created by Hugh Le Caine. It’s a dramatic sample of sci-fi movie elements and jarring bursts of sound that heighten the tension. “Sea Lunch” was created with the not-quite-modular Arp 2600 analog synthesizer, while Gagnon utilized the Synclavier II to realize “Totem Ben,” “Improvisation,” and “Nous Sommes Tous des Cré Basile.” This instrument was one of the earliest modes of digital synthesis/sampling, and Gagon does his best to wrangle some diverse and downright weird tones from the beast. “Dictée” is probably the most abstract piece featured – the phrase “le boa mange Léo” is manipulated and modified into non-existence, disappearing into the sound of a pencil scraping on a desk before reappearing in the midst of a synthesizer war. The final piece presented is “Gololo-Mashta,” in which Gagnon presents the sound of a four-piece rock band being treated to the effects of a Moog modular synth. This song veers close to experimental post-punk with its exhilarating rhythmic intensity. Such near-cacophony is the perfect way to close out an epic LP of way-out sound!” – Bryon Hayes (Foxy Digitalis)

“The multi-part Moog suite “Gwendoline Descendue!” leads things off with a series of brain-tickling passages self-dubbed “musical giallo”, but to these ears sounding closer to a Gristleized El Topo. “Dictée” warps a harried vocal phrase and scribbling pencil into mutant concrete, while closer “Gololo-Mashta” refigures rock group samples into rhythmic shards presaging the sound of Zs. Best of all is “Totem Ben”, an aqueous outernational head-nodder created on Synclavier II that bangs like proto-Hobo Cubes. Stylish b&w cover art from the hyper-talented Felix Morel makes this a must-grip.” – Jesse Locke (Weird Canada)

“Bernard Gagnon démarre ses cultures de plantes électroniques en 1975. Entre concordances et similarités on pourra le rapprocher d’un autre Bernard, Parmegiani de son nom. Il faut cependant déployer la liste de l’attirail utilisée pour en circonscrire la mixité : arp 2600, bandes magnétiques, basse, batterie, clarinette, guitare, synclavier II, synthétiseur modulaire moog, vocodeur et divers instruments conçus par Hugh Le Caine. La musique électroacoustique dans ses coutures connues est présente, quoique plus libertaire. «Gwendoline Descendue!» fait ainsi voyager le spectrogramme du côté des spirales, du granuleux et des sons étirés. Est aussi présente la déconstruction du langage apte à la disjonction des synapses (Léo mange le Boa, le boa mange Léo). La rétrospective se termine par un démentiel «Gololo-Mashta» qui révèle un précurseur oublié d’Autechre.” – Eric Deshayes (Neospheres)

“Gorgeous set of 70’s & 80’s archival electronic music from quebecois composer Bernard Gagnon, assembled on magnetic tape utilizing an array of the era’s more salacious gadgetry (moog modular & “vocodeur”, several of Hugh Le Caine’s designs, arp 2600, synclavier ii, etc.) … skirting between “classic” whiz-bang synthesizer filigree, deep musique concrète ruminations, quite noisy stuck-ring-modular klang-blatt, and some rather nice linear rhythmic work (yes, i’m sure you’re all dying to ignore those first few concepts & head right for the “usable” tack ; so there you have it via the sound-sample) things never stay the same for too long … it’s interesting to hear Gagnon’s work evolve through this particular era, as the rapid shifts in technology (straight analogue through purely digital constructions in only a few short years) contribute heavily to the complexity & elegance of his work … gorgeous recording, both sound & vision, coated in vintage typography & some rather apropos collages (from the hands of “Félix ”) ; highly recommended !!!” – Keith Fullerton Whitman (Mimaroglu Music)

“Between 1975 and 1983, Gagnon spliced together a series of compositions in the McGill electronic music studio. This was the pre-Schulich Hall days, when the studio was located on the fifth floor of the Strathcona Building, the nightly bat sightings perhaps influencing the music’s ominous nocturnal feel. The LP provides not only a period survey of analogue and early digital synthesis hardware, but seven varied and creative tracks (…). Gagnon’s overall aesthetic remains similar across technologies, a dark pulse and continuously shifting textures pervading all pieces. Vinyl fetishists will appreciate the 180-gram pressing and cover art dominated by a duo of dizzying collages by Félix Morel, whose themes oddly match the content of the disc.” – Lawrence Joseph (Cult Montreal)

“Mais ce que Tenzier nous offre sur ce trente-trois, c’est un florilège de compositions qui vont de 1975 à 1983 et des bandes magnétiques aux rewinds invraisemblables à des collages électroacoustiques qui chassent en territoires Schaeffer, Parmegiani ou Genesis P-Orridge, à quoi on ajoutera encore une free noise quand il rejoint un groupe constitué de Michel-Paul Aussant, Jean Bourque, Jean-Pierre Gratton et Michel Courcy. Ce qui fait pas mal de noms à apprendre, je vous l’accorde… L’autre face, c’est encore autre chose… Gagnon prend une phrase d’une dictée de son souvenir (« Le boa mange Léo ») et joue avec elle, la retourne dans tous les sens, la chante, la plonge en rythmique prépostindus et la noie pour couronner le tout (son œuvre, ce disque) dans un bruyant mélange krautelectro. Qu’importe si cette plage sonore est en fait plusieurs pièces mises bout à bout (je ne cherche pas à savoir) : son effet est immédiat ; d’ailleurs, à en reparler, voilà que j’y retourne.” – Pierre Cécile (Le Son du grisli)