Now Hear This 2004

by PopMatters Staff

1 January 2004

NOW HEAR THIS 2004   Can’t figure out what to listen to? Listen to us. Once again, PopMatters’ music team presents a highly opinionated, undoubtedly superlative but ultimately revelatory examination of 18 artists that demand your attention. NOW.
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:: Best Lullaby For Those Too Scared to Sleep

Like guitar strings being replaced with computer wires and USB cables, or silence orchestrating the sounds of a forest into a concerto, Desormais is a band that abolishes the division between the natural and the technological, the subtle and the palpable, and the laptop and the guitar.

In reality, Desormais exists as a duo who piece together and write music between two countries (Mitchell Akiyama lives in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Tony Boggs resides in Cincinnati, OH) by uploading MP3 files, trading CD-Rs, and communicating through email. Although they abolished this method with their breathtaking 2003 release Iambrokenandremade…, working jointly in Cincinnati, Desormais utilizes technology to create music that finds its heart in nature by resting somewhere between a midnight’s rainy skies and the fragile life of a flower in bloom.

Sonically, Desormais’ music is a patchwork of processed guitars, austere string sections, digital drones, sampled sonic debris, treated cellos, fluorescent torrents of feedback, and decayed acoustics layered so delicately that it radiates the warmth of a homespun quilt stitched together with the electronic circuitry of a laptop. It’s digital music with a soul, a way of employing the electronic to interpret the natural.

Listening to either of Desormais’ records—be it their 2002 debut Climate Variations or last year’s Iambrokenandremade…—proves to be an experience entirely unto itself. It is music that is not without its reference points—Fennesz, Steve Reich, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor come to mind—but it transforms them into something else entirely.

Fittingly, Akiyama states that, “I don’t spend a lot of time listening to music. I’m into silence.” However subtle of an influence silence may be, Desormais translates this pinpointed inspiration into an intense sensory experience where euphoric soundscapes make your ears feel as if they have leapt into an entirely different dimension. In that space, bleak overcast clouds sound like a choir, radiant bursts of color sing and leaves fall like a symphony.

— Ryan Potts

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