Hémisphère son, the end of a utopia

Editorial 28.03.2024

Hémisphère son was born of a desire, a utopia, to build a free, simple, online editorial space to bring together sound artists and those who listen to them. A digital space where we write, question, reflect, analyze, propose and encourage musical life, with taste, experience and passion as our only compass.

"Music criticism is an essential component of the ecosystem of musical creation. But however necessary it may be, it is also utopian, since it seeks to put words to the unspeakable. Writing about music, or getting musicians to talk, is an attempt to say, in a different way, what music alone can express... It's like having a compass in the desert. You can do without it, but it's better with it . Didier Aschour, musician and director of Gmea-CNCM Albi.

Launched in March 2021, after three years of a youthful, enthusiastic, dense and feverish existence, after three years in which the challenge of audience, recognition and esteem was, I believe, rewarded by a large readership, I have taken the difficult decision to have to bring the editorial adventure of Hémisphère son to a close for personal reasons.
Our physical strengths are not always commensurate with the challenges we face, and the difficulties of maintaining the independence and financial soundness of this high-quality machine with our own funds have also added to the daily strain and made its future development uncertain.

"I remember Sandrine's enthusiasm when she convinced me to join the Hémisphère son adventure (which didn't yet have a name), even though I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't go back. For me, as a journalist and an attentive (if not exhaustive) observer of developments in the music world, Hémisphère son was both a bubble of air and a zone of utopia. This adventure reminded me of the days of Octopus (then Mouvement), when there was hardly any other medium - other than Revue & corrigée - that paid as much attention to "free and inventive" music, while also ignoring schools of thought and labels. During its existence, Hémisphère son also remained singularly alone in its own "segment": that of all forms of musical experimentation, whether written or unwritten, improvised or ambient, traditional or technological, approached in this case rather from a "scholarly" musics perspective (where Octopus came rather from "pop" - improvised and experimental musics). At least it's good to see that at CNCM, as at certain "contemporary" music festivals (they'll recognize themselves), this breaking down of boundaries finally seems to be translated into action - where experimental music festivals such as Sonic Protestwhich has sadly just announced that its 20th edition (to be held until March 30) will also be its last, had long since embraced it. But that's another subject. I'll remember the editorial committee meetings, the friendly, enthusiastic faces, happy to be part of this adventure, and being paid to do so. Thanks be to Sandrine for making it all possible, and long live her! David Sanson, author, programmer, musician, journalist.

It's true, as David points out, that we're often left on our own to face up to the challenges of quality, consistency, audience, profitability, sustainability, and the (often inappropriate) competition that weighs down our small teams. I deeply regret that the Sonic Protest festival is taking place for the last time. For 20 years, it was the crucible of experimental music, both cutting-edge and wandering, and the source of thousands of concerts and encounters between artists whose playground is becoming ever smaller, and an adventurous, orphaned public.

"Music helps me to live. It opens up unheard-of imaginary landscapes and touches subtle areas of the unconscious. To listen. Comes from the Latin auscultare. To auscultate. To listen with attention, with care. I like to think we're entering the age of sound, the age that connects us to the powers of sound. The era of listening. Thanks to Hémisphère son for its listening links." Laëtitia Pitz, director.

Indeed, the only downside is, and remains, the subject of the economic model - or rather, the impossible economic model - for online music magazines, a model that can both preserve independence while ensuring sufficient profitability to remunerate its members, while we are caught between exacerbated consumerism, ultra-specialization or disguised institutionalization. I'm talking here about modest projects that have had to close down after laudable efforts, such as Syntone, created by Juliette Volcler, or L'oreille absolue, the fanzine launched by Richard Robert.
Although Hémisphère son was able to develop for three years thanks to the personal financial contribution I was able to maintain, we would have gained in visibility and, above all, relieved my workload, if I had found additional support from certain public funding providers. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Outside the competitive field, Hémisphère son could have been a tool for ... public service. This was not to be, and remains my only regret.

"Hémisphère son has managed to steer clear of the infantilizing didacticism of music criticism, escape the false pretenses of simplifying storytelling and defy the obsession with packing everything that seems out of the ordinary into boxes. Hémisphère son has succeeded in combining a taste for bringing together disparate sonic vitalities with an open hospitality to the troublemakers of sound. May we stay connected and keep all the radars switched on by Hémisphère son, which remains and will remain for the communities of liberated sounds a unique rallying point." David Christoffel, poet, radio personality, composer.

We were a rallying point, much to my delight. Meeting artists has always been a great joy and a source of infinite knowledge, ever since I started out as a producer, agent and programmer 30 years ago.
With Hémisphère son, the job of editor-in-chief was a new apprenticeship that I was able to approach and develop thanks to and with a team of journalists and musicologists far more knowledgeable in their field than I could ever be, and their guidance was tremendously formative. If the project and the vision of what a welcoming, diversified and demanding musical review could and should be was mine, their talents, erudition and experience of the press, production and creation were invaluable to this editorial adventure.
I will therefore mention them all: Anne-Laure Chamboissier, Bastien Gallet, Suzanne Gervais, Guillaume Kosmicki, Jean-Yves Leloup, François Mardirossian, Anne Montaron, David Sanson, Txema Segler, Michèle Tosi.
As well as those who took part from time to time: Tristan Bera, Pascale Cassagnau, David Christoffel, Thea Dercks, Camille Domange, Lambert Dousson, Ludovic Florin, Vincent Lhermet, Franck Marguin, Céline Pierre, Elmer Schönberger, Makis Solomos, Joep Stapel, Kasper T. Toeplitz, Mark van de Voort, Mirjam Zegers.

A retrospective in pictures and music :

Hémisphère son", in those two words already, a whole program; first and foremost an openness of field rather rare in a country that cultivates specialization. Thanks to Hémisphère son, I've been able to write about all the music I care about, whether written or improvised. And as a supreme luxury, I've been able to move from one exercise to another: concert reviews, interviews, postcards on festivals and events, more personal texts (in the famous dossiers), playlists... A big thank you to Sandrine, for letting this wind of freedom blow through all our collaborations, with constant gentleness and passion. Bravo above all for this colossal and magnificent job!" Anne Montaron, radio personality, musicologist.

It's also worth pointing out that it was not only a space for the free circulation of artistic creativity of all kinds, but also a space of freedom for the expression of journalists, musicologists and writers, who were able to exercise their pens with equal rigor and sensitivity, in registers ranging from concert and record reviews, through the orality of sound portraits, the philosophy of sounds, lighting, interviews, connected news items and so on. And since I was also in charge of preparing, illustrating and putting the articles online, together we invented as many columns and formats as we needed to express this diversity in content and form.

"Hémisphère son arrived at a key moment in my career as a musicologist, journalist and music lover. This medium immediately and perfectly coincided with what I was advancing in my writings at the time, most notably in the three volumes of Musiques savantes, published between 2012 and 2017, where I placed Arnold Schoenberg, Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Helmut Lachenman, Gérard Grisey, Kaija Saariaho and Xu Yi on a par with Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Meredith Monk, Naked City, Aphex Twin and Björk. For my part, since university, I had already made a significant progress based on my convictions, in opposition to an education where styles and schools were still very segmented and where elitism was still the order of the day, despite all the fine words and all the good will. I knew a thing or two about this, having focused my research on techno music, raves and free parties, and having finally given up on finding a position in this institution. The members of the Hémisphère son team had done the same, each in their own way, along the way. I remember that our first meetings were aimed at finding a name for the music we were talking about and that we wanted to continue to bring to light. Of course, it was the debates and their failure that were far more exciting than the concrete results, as no satisfactory definition could emerge from them: neither "contemporary music", nor "learned music", nor "experimental music", nor even "creative music"... Sandrine Maricot Despretz, our editor-in-chief, founder and director of the project, had all the flair and confidence needed to bring together a team of cheerful listeners and committed editors, who ultimately stuck to a single intuition: to believe in what they were listening to, and to share it sincerely. What's more, Sandrine has put together a team with equal representation, in a world that is still far from being equal! It's also an aspect that spoke to me a lot, and which again proved to be in phase with my more recent research and writing projects. The sauce took. The small team grew, the exchanges became more intense, the dossiers richer and richer, led by our conductor who knew how to let our individual sensitivities express themselves so that they could play in concert. What a team! We fed off each other. Free from networks of influence, petty chapels and stylistic wars, Hémisphère son has emerged as an independent, analytical reflection of the music of our time. At least, that's what I believe. And I still do." Guillaume Kosmicki, musicologist and author.

Artistic encounters were taken a step further through commissions and co-commissions that I wanted to carry out directly, and which were moments of joyful intensity, where I saw music, spectacle, connection and humanity replayed.
Thanks to Floy Krouchi, José Río-Pareja, Eve Risser, Raquel García-Tomás, Elsa Biston, Aurora Bauza and Pere Jou.
And a special thank you to Olivier Maurel and Ayako Okubo, of the ensemble HANATSUmiroir, for creating an original score perfectly suited to the Rétrospective en image (see above). This slightly melancholy slideshow was created with Annabelle Oliveira, who has been successfully managing the site's communications and social networks since November 2021, without which it would be impossible to expand audiences in the online world.

"Curiosity, challenge, motivation: Hémisphère son (HS) gave me the opportunity to discover a world of sound that I'd hardly explored until now: contemporary music and its different faces. And to do so, above all, alongside colleagues who, through their professionalism, helped me to navigate this space with richness and learning. HS was a courageous and risky project, committed to a unique way of experiencing music. A window on sound. HS is like that friend you love who leaves, but leaves you everything. Even the smile on your face . Txema Seglers, author, journalist, musician.

So it's with all these words and emotions that we bid you farewell, and tell you how much we've enjoyed our three years on the airwaves and on the music scene with you and for you.
Hémisphère son ceases its editorial activities, but doesn't disappear from the digital world. The website will remain online, and all this "colossal work" will remain accessible for many years to come, with our living archives and sound recordings hosted on the new Paysages Humains website.

"Two or three things I know about Hémisphère son (HS)
HS is a feast for the eyes and ears: the golden yellow that greets us, the orange-red in which the titles of the columns are inscribed, and the text that is always bursting with sound and images.
HS is demanding: clear, precise and fluid.
HS is all about commitment to creation, parity and societal issues through sound: turning our backs on the old-fashioned, cold-hearted and specialists, "old crabs who only have a claw closed to an immobilizing vision", as Claude Ballif was fond of saying.
HS, finally, is the radiant smile of Sandrine Maricot Despretz when the title, short and sharp, is found and the new article turns on the carousel...
It's youth, rhythm and the strength of life."
Michèle Tosi, musicologist, journalist and author.

I'd also like to thank all those who took part in this adventure: Camille Domange(CDO Avocat), Frédéric Perrin(Le contact moderne with Anthony Pho and Fabien Morvan, developers and Audrey Gance, SEO), Emilie Zawadzki (site developer), Atelier Irradié (graphic designers), Guillaume Ladvié, Gestuelle and Andrea Fernandez.

Sandrine Maricot Despretz
Publication manager

buy twitter accounts