Jean Piché – Heliograms

Jean Piché - Heliograms LP front cover
Jean Piché - Heliograms LP back cover
Jean Piché - Heliograms LP side 1

Canadian composer and video artist Jean Piché, born 1951, studied at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University with Barry Truax (see previous post). A pioneer of digital technologies in the late 1970s, Piché created music using the PODX interactive compositional system (especially the POD 6 and 7, programmed by Truax) and, since the 1990s, turned to interactive works for computer, digital graphics and live instruments. Piché is also a noted software designer (the Cecilia and Tam Tam programs) and a teacher at Montreal University.

♫ This LP (coincidentally, Melbourne’s last release in 1982) collects 4 electroacoustic works for computer, digital synthesis and live instruments (vocals and percussion). The music is based on long-held electronic notes morphing into one another like tiles to form dense textures of enveloping sounds. These textures have an organic, almost liquid quality and, somehow, the music seems wrapped in uncanny digital harmonics. Far from New Age, the density of electronic sounds sometimes reach powerful levels.

On #1 Ange, Joanna Anonychuk’s ethereal vocals magically blends with the synthetic sonorities. The title and music of #2 La Mer à l’Aube seems inspired by Debussy’s La Mer’s 1st movement “De l’aube à midi sur la mer”, from the famous symphonic poem describing a day in the life of the ocean. #3 Rouge is the most lively and agitated of the LP and is build on rhythmical sequencer programming and live percussion. The sublime Heliograms is possibly the greatest achievement here, with its quasi-symphonic synthetic washes alternating with minimal electronic bleeps. Constantly eschewing resolution, the entire track recalls Wagner’s Infinite Melody concept.

  1. Ange (12:07)
    Joanna Anonychuk, voice
  2. La Mer à l’Aube (11:43)
  3. Rouge (10:20)
    Paul Grant, percussion
  4. Heliograms (13:49)

Jean Piché, musiques électroniques

Total time 48:00
LP released by Melbourne Records, Waterloo, ON, Canada, 1982


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17 Responses to “Jean Piché – Heliograms”

  1. 1 dead corporate eyes January 20, 2011 at 1:32 am

    been meaning to leave a comment…discovered your site a couple months ago and I love it. Keep it up!

  2. 2 continuo January 20, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Thank you. Keep the comments coming.

  3. 4 RTC May 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    This is stunning!

    Thank you for the discovery…

  4. 5 continuo May 22, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    You’re welcome.

  5. 6 Brian June 5, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I’m in ‘electroacoustic’ heaven: first I find an LP by The Canadian Electronic Ensemble I have been looking for since 1980. Now I find Jean Piche’s ‘Heliograms’ which I have only as a very noisy/scratched LP I found a few years ago in a used vinyl shop. This will surely be a much more satisfying listen. Many thanks continuo, many thanks!

  6. 7 continuo June 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    For some reason I developed a strong Canadian tropism along the years and blogged about many of these country’s avantgarde musicians. The MusicWorks journal and cassettes are references to me, for instance.
    Thanks for your comment.

  7. 8 RTC July 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    For those who loved this LP, I would suggest checking out this collaborative video between JoAnn Gillerman & Jean Piché from 1983:

  8. 9 continuo July 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you very much for this link. The video is wonderfully elusive and erotic. I was not aware Piché had uploaded so many films on his Vimeo page.

  9. 10 continuo July 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Just been watching his 2011 HD film Hémisphères, which is breathtaking.

  10. 11 RTC July 17, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I will check it out!

  11. 12 Rodney September 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Nice!! “Rouge” was used for years as the theme to CBC’s “Two New Hours” and I never tired of it. The underlying pulse is entrancing…

  12. 14 +971 March 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    anyone have a copy of this still, the site seems to be dead

  13. 15 continuo March 13, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Have a look at the 2012 Re-ups page.

  14. 16 brad rose April 25, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    We’re reissuing this on vinyl next month on Digitalis, newly remastered. More info (+ stream “La Mer à l’Aube”) here:

  15. 17 continuo April 25, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Hi, Brad. A vinyl reissue of this masterpiece is wonderful news.
    I removed the free download links from this blog and will point readers to Digitalis Recordings when they request a re-up. Keep on the good work.

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