Maxime Michaud's debut is a masterwork. The Montreal-based electronic composer may lack a formal musical background and freely admit that "this album kind of just happened," but that doesn't matter; Essais, which translates into English as "Trials," is a great success.
"This album is about how I felt at precise moments, and how we all can feel," Michaud says of the album. "It's part of a sincere desire to try; each track has something to do with trying."
Ambition is in no short supply here. "Essai d'une musique pour essayer de faire dodo" sounds like static electricity falling from the sky. With an ambient bed track not unlike the beginning of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name," Michaud achieves the near-impossible: an easy listening noise sculpture.
His recording of Bach's "Avoir pitié, essayer, respirer, marcher" is another stunner, features up and coming Montréal mezzo-soprano Florence Bourget, whose ageless voice makes her one to watch. Rich, synthesized string accompaniment gives the piece a classical sound, without feeling out of sync with the rest of the album.
"I always wanted to record a classical piece in a maladroit and unskilful way," says Michaud. "It's not precise, it sounds a bit vague, diffuse, vaporous, too slow for what it's supposed to be, and it's what I wanted."
Michaud plans a second release this year; here's hoping his sonic lightning strikes twice. (Jeunesse Cosmique)