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pierre-yves martel viola da gamba, harmonica

continuum is a project aiming at the spontaneous creation of elemental music, that is, music devoid of any aesthetic form or linear narrative. the idea is to impose rigid strictures on the initial creative perimeters in order to maximize freedom and fluidity during the performance. in part, they take the form of a steadfast commitment to the maintenance of restraint, observation, and control, in such a way as to transcend the instinct to play a piece of music in order to let the music play both the performer and the listener.

continuum a pour objet la création spontanée d'une musique élémentaire dépourvue de forme préétablie ou de narration linéaire. l'idée est d'imposer des restrictions rigides sur les périmètres créatifs afin de favoriser la liberté et la fluidité du jeu lors de la performance. dans un exercise de retenue, d'observation et de contrôle, l'instinct de jouer une pièce de musique cède la place à une musique qui joue l'interprète et le public.

ross murray recording
harris newman mastering
fabrizio gilardino design
pierre-yves martel production

tour de bras records TDB9011cd


past concerts
02.05.16 innovation en concerts, montréal [canada]
03.03.16 le cabinet, geneva [switzerland]
27.01.16 daïmôn, hull [qc]
07.11.15 merge, vancouver [canada]
28.10.15 plattfon, basel [switzerland]
10.05.15 neue musik in st-ruprecht, vienna [austria]
07.05.15 festival umlaut, église saint-merri, paris [france]
01.11.14 naada yoga, montréal [qc]
14.10.14 dawawine, beirut [lebanon]
02.09.14 mardi spaghetti, montréal [qc]
08.08.14 festival écouter pour l’instant, bourgnac [france]
07.08.14 festival écouter pour l’instant, bergerac [france]
06.08.14 festival écouter pour l’instant, saint-avit-de-vialard [france]
05.08.14 chapelle de l'orangerie de mont-royal, montréjeau [france]

stuart broomer, the wholenote [canada]
montréal sound artist pierre-yves martel creates dauntingly minimalist improvisations contrasting single tones on a viola da gamba and a harmonica with silences on continuum. it’s demanding work, an experience in which the act of listening may be dissected and stitched back together, the music developing a severe and icy beauty in the process.

ed pinsent, the sound projector [uk]
a solo release from canadian player pierre-yves martel, last heard by us playing his viola da gamba with philippe lauzier in the duo sainct laurens, and has been heard in various group combinations also. he’s by himself on continuum, of which the main event is a single 26-minute track ‘augmentare’ where martel performs and improvises non-stop. what’s noteworthy here is the precision and deliberation with which he releases each note; he’s spending every string pluck and scrape as if it were marked currency. right away, this tends to give the performance a lot of weight and tension, as the listener sits expectantly waiting for the next crystal-clear drop of water to be released from the spigot. it also means martel is centred, calm, and focussed; no need for haste or careless doodling. small wonder the label use the tag “meditative” somewhere on a web page to help steer the listener as to the content of this minimal music. high degree of concentration required, both for playing, and for listening. haven’t heard similar playing of a stringed instrument since the guitarist taku sugimoto, who also tended to produce lengthy statements which, at first listen, sounded “disconnected”. think of it as a short essay where every word has been parsed and isolated from its neighbour, as if the writer lived in dread of being misunderstood and didn’t want to present too many joined clauses or vague words.

second piece ‘diminutio’ comprises longer tones, and very high-pitched ones at that, perhaps produced by bowing the instrument. it sings like a pair of catbirds in full spate. i think there are probably just two notes in the whole 6 mins and 20 secs; but there are ghostly notes, harmonics, produced by martel’s insistent actions, and he’s clearly determined to wring every last drop of musical information he can from this restricted, simple, performance. if i was going to extend my “essay” metaphor, this would be a piece of writing comprising two well-chosen words, repeated (and perhaps even underlined) over and over across several pages. at end of reading, the audience may achieve some form of sublimation or deeper recognition of a particular subject, through this strenuous mental exercise.

three technicians are credited with the recording, mixage and mastering of this record; clearly, accurate capture and rendition meant a lot to pierre-yves martel in the production. the efforts have all paid off, because playback of this record is more than just detailed and accurate, it’s vivid; you can practically see the grain of the instrument, the detail of the strings, every vibration created by the performance.

david cristol, improjazz [france]
il n’est pas tous les jours question de viole de gambe dans improjazz. avec continuum, pierre-yves martel livre un court et bel album, empreint d’une pondération zen que l’on n’associe pas forcément à cet instrument aux origines anciennes. car il y a presque autant de silence que de musique ici. chaque geste est soigneusement pesé, chaque mouvement de l’archet est suivi par une pause, permettant à la résonance des cordes d’atteindre leur terme avant qu’une autre corde soit sollicitée. voici donc une belle occasion de se défaire de quelques préjugés et de se laisser hypnotiser au passage. cette approche n’est d’ailleurs pas sans évoquer le travail de l’accordéoniste jonas köcher ; les soupirs et sifflements que les deux créateurs tirent de leurs instruments respectifs affichant de troublantes ressemblances.