Urban Cuts

Fortner Anderson, Ned Bouhalassa

Programme notes

This is a work where I explore urban spaces in Montreal, Las Vegas, and Berlin — 3 very different cities, with truly unique soundscapes. I gathered many recordings of spoken phrases, and used them as natural reference points for the listener. Cars are everywhere in these cities: a continuous drone in the background or right in front of my microphones, ready to roll.

While I have incorporated sampled drums and loops in my electroacoustic music for many years, with this piece I wanted to collaborate with two talented musicians from Montréal. Christian Olsen’s drumming is both explosive and subtle, while Delphine Measroch, who is also a composer, transforms the sound of her cello into a metro turnstile, a cricket, a hovercraft.


Urban Cuts was realized in 2005 at the composer’s studio and premiered [fixed-media original version] on November 19, 2005 in Berlin (Germany). An initial 15-minute version entitled Espaces urbains 1: Las Vegas — Montréal — Berlin was presented on May 14, 2005 during the Elektra festival at Usine C, Montréal. This mixed version (for cello, drums, and tape) premiered on December 10, 2005 during the Akousma (2) festival presented by Réseaux at Espace GO in Montréal. Urban Cuts was commissioned by Sabine Breitsameter of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin (Germany), with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), and Andreas Hagelüken of RBB/Klanggalerie. Thanks to Brenda Keesal, Fortner Anderson (recorded voice), Sabine Breitsameter, Andreas Hagelüken, Michael Rüsenberg, Carla Spies, Bernard Schütze; programers: Rick Scott (rachMiel), Colin Fraser (Biomechanoid).


  • November 19, 2005, Premiere of fixed-media original version: Concert, Akademie der Künste — Hanseatenweg, Berlin (Germany)
  • December 10, 2005, Premiere of the mixed version: Delphine Measroch, cello; Christian Olsen, drum • Akousma (2): Rhapsodie urbaine, Espace Go, Montréal (Québec)

About this recording

This recording was realized on February 26 & 28, 2007 at Studio Sygma in Montréal by Alain Girard and mixed at the composer’s studio.

  • Composer(s): Ned Bouhalassa
  • Writer(s): Fortner Anderson
  • Year of composition: 2005
  • Instrumentation: cello, drum kit and 5.1-channel fixed medium
  • Commission: Sabine Breitsameter, Akademie der Künste (Berlin, Germany), with support from the CALQ and from Andreas Hagelüken of RBB/Klanggalerie
  • ISWC: T9017350402
  • Publisher(s): Yul média
  • Duration: 34:06


Montréal 1

My city. This is a trip through quintessential Montréal, visiting a soundscape that envelopes, shakes and rocks me. It mixes the hot tam-tam jams (drumming) on the Mountain with student protests, captures the big Friday night on Crescent street, spies on the outdoor lunchers at Place Ville-Marie; the hurried Orthodox Jews of Outremont, and the patrons at Café Olympico.


  • ISWC: T9017497904

Montréal 2

  • ISWC: T9017427348

Las Vegas

The greatest American mirage, Las Vegas is evoked by Fortner Anderson (recorded voice), through the words of his poem, Vegas. He revisits the dry hills and desert nearby, the chimeric streets, the trompe-l’œil architecture. He spins an internal tale involving melancholic feelings and fresh questions. I weave field recordings of desert walks and cacophonous casinos.


  • ISWC: T9017433237

Berlin 1

German composer and radio-producer Michael Rüsenberg was kind enough to record a large number of Berlin ambiences: the kites and flyers of Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), the Turkish markets, a hovercraft race, birds in cages, a woman’s charming laugh. I added my own recordings of Berlin trains as they are an integral part of that city’s sound.


  • ISWC: T9017378551

Berlin 2

  • ISWC: T9017480705