Viviane Houles debut solo release, Treize,
is an intense, subversive and highly submersive album that documents the
artistry of this vocal improviser through collaborations with members
of Vancouvers rich creative music scene. Through Treizes (produced
by Jesse Zubot) thirteen improvised duets, Houle takes
the listener on a rigorous, but gorgeous journey of dense textures, tender
melodic fragments, hypnotic tensions, abstracted texts, restrained chaos
and silent refuge. The simmering intensity and unveiled rawness of Houles
voice acts as a guidepost through the release. As a vocalist and improviser,
Houle displays a chameleon-esque quality, moving effortlessly between
abstract free-improvisational textures and hauntingly beautiful soundscapes.
Bel canto beauty and lush melodic phrases give way to intimate whispers,
deep guttural bellows and decibel defying vocal squelches as Houle and
her collaborators transform voice and instrument into highly evocative
sonic environments. Lyrically, Houle offers fragmented tales of unspoken
loss, faltering attempts at love and forgiveness, fragile hopes and cautious
dreams. Her texts emerge and are submerged within each improvisation.
Houle spans genres, combining extended vocal techniques with a melodic
improvising style derived from her diverse performance background. Known
for her riveting live performances, Houle has performed with leading talents
in the worlds of creative music (Peggy Lee, Wayne Horvitz), opera/classical
(Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra), and new music (Louis
Andreissen, Cristina Zavalloni). Her voice is heard in works for dance,
animation, and theatre. Yet, it is in the improvisational setting where
Houle is most at home and where she performs in a variety of ensembles.
Houles collaborators on Treizes duets represent a cross section
of Vancouvers finest improvisers: Peggy Lee (cello),
Lisa Miller (piano), Coat Cooke (saxophone),
Kenton Loewen (drums), Ron Samworth
(guitar), Chris Gestrin (analog keyboards), Jesse
Zubot (violin), Jeremy Berkman (trombone), Paul
Plimley (piano), Jeff Younger (guitar), Clyde
Reed (bass), Brent Belke (guitar), Stefan
Smulovitz (laptop kenaxis). The pieces on Treize embody
the latest in a series of musical conversations between Houle and a group
of musicians with whom she regularly collaborates. A shared language,
mutual respect, curiosity and fearless abandon mark each of the thirteen
duets. An intense and passionate journey, Trieze also offers the listener
exquisite moments of rest, of play of hope.
"Houle warbles and scats like some
demented cross between Yma Sumac and Slim Gaillard, but also does the
Phil Minton thing of squeezing non-musical grunts and sighs from a closed
larynx." - The Sound Projector
"...an auspicious debut recording
from an attention-riveting artist." - Exclaim!
"Houle not only owns the many avant
vocal styles on display here, she has something unique sometimes
stunningly brilliant to bring to each of them." - The
"A great set, well worth checking
out." - Paris Transatlantic Magazine
"...Houle's performances are deeply
satisfying." - Cadence Magazine
"The Vancouver avant-jazz singer plays
hide and seek with a few phrases and a lot of fragmentary vocal sounds..."
- The Globe and Mail
"Seldom does a debut release display
such self-assured artistic confidence and solid breadth of vision;...
A spellbinding listening experience." - Exclaim!
out of windows, the sound of a trombone digging up a grave, ripping out
everybody's larynx with your bare hands...a genius example of this audacious
approach to music...one of the years best albums." -
"...one of those rare gems of total
improvisation that works on every level... the kind of album you could
play at a Halloween haunted house to terrify or in a concert hall to mesmerize."
- The Province
"...free improvisations that transcend
the ordinary and provide sonic experiences unlike anything else."
- Sequenza 21
"...a bold recording that's equally mesmerizing and
riveting." - Textura
Houle finds a way to challenge herself and her partners... on this spontaneous
gem" - Downtown Music Gallery
"...a very original, multifaced and
fulfilling statement." - Vital Weekly (Dolf Mulder)
Review: The Squid's Ear
Review: Sequenza 21
Review: Cadence Magazine
Review: All About Jazz (Italia)
Ten (2009) Destination Out: Exclaim!
Review: Eye Weekly
Review: Paris Transatlantic Magazine
Review: FFWD Weekly
Review: Sound Projector
Review: Rafter Lights