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«Complètement marteau»

The Canadian. Montréal-based prolific and innovative composer-guitarist-sonic alchemist René Lussier collected four commissioned compositions that were never documented on disc for «Complètement marteau». These compositions were dug out of Lussier archive during the Covid-19 lockdown and all express his unconventional compositional gifts and strategies. These experimental, eclectic compositions were composed over a twenty years period, and were handcrafted, patiently and laboriously, with Lussier’s self-taught tools. All reflect his out-of-the-box musical thinking and imagination, sound fresh and inventive even today and are full of enchanting surprises and sonic wonders.

The four-movements suite «Burletta» (2009) frames «Complètement marteau», opens and closes the album and links the other compositions. It was composed for the theater clown show Burletta and relies on cartoonish but infectious dance moves, produced by homemade percussion instruments (mouth noises, cake spatulas, barbecue skewers and styrofoam on a wet window), layered with sparkling colors and seductive sounds, including nostalgic nods to tango and imaginative usage of the daxophone, invented by the late Hans Reichel. This merry, Fellini-esque composition slowly tempts the innocent listener to take the uplifting leap into its kaleidoscopic universe.

«Pour modifier vos options personnelles appuyez sur l’étoile» (2019) is a suite for four guitars and electric toothbrushes, commissioned by Tim Brady and his quartet Instruments of Happiness, and recorded anew by Lussier (who played in Fred Frith Guitar Quartet and Les 4 Guitaristes De L’Apocalypso-Bar). Lussier coaxed this twisted kind of bluesy cocktail out of Bell’s Canada automated female voice and used this neutral feminine voice to punctuate the internal logic of this eventful and restless composition. The electric, resonant toothbrushes were placed on a metal plate above the guitar’s pick-up and employed to extract distorted and noisy nuances out of the electric guitar choir. Fortunately, nowadays the listener does not have to press on anything in order to be launched into this clever orchestration of voices, sounds and noises.

«Le clou» (1999) was composed for a double bass quartet, but, unfortunately, Lussier was not able to attend its performance due to his busy touring schedule, so he decided to record it with double bass player Hugo Blouin and finally hear it. This witty composition employs the full spectrum of the bull fiddle, plucked and bowed, with many eccentric and unpredictable turns and detours.

«BanQ» (2015) is a soundtrack for an architectural projection on the outside walls of the Grande Bibliothèque in Montréal (the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec or BAnQ) for an anniversary of the library. The projection itself was gigantic but the soundtrack was disappointingly broadcasted with only a small and shabby loudspeaker that stood no chance of silencing the noise from the nearby de Maisonneuve Blvd. Lussier wanted to do justice to this wonderful piece, which orchestrates guitars, daxophones and human voices into a rich, child-like soundscape.

One can wonder how many more magical gems like the ones of «Complètement marteau» may be in the archive of Lussier.

Eyal Hareuveni

René Lussier (g, daxophone, v, homemade perc, electric toothbrush, objects field recordings), Hugo Blouin (b)


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