Nicole Rampersaud

A Tourist In My Youth
Then Again...
...And Then
Concurrent Panoramas Pt. 1
Concurrent Panoramas Pt. 2
Concurrent Panoramas Pt. 3

Nor Foresaking
Deprogram Reprogram

Recorded by Nicole Rampersaud at home. Produced by Sandro Perri and Nicole Rampersaud. Edited, mixed, and mastered by Sandro Perri. All compositions by Nicole Rampersaud © 2022 SOCAN. Photograph by Nicole Rampesaud. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.


Having known Nicole’s playing for over a decade, I’m always in awe of how she pushes the sound of the trumpet. I’ve been attuned to her immersive sound world since we began playing together in 2008. Whether it’s on her Bb trumpet, piccolo trumpet, or flugelhorn, Nicole’s playing is an individual voice. She has always had a unique way of expressing her instrument. Her choice ofsounds and the method in which she incorporates a rich palette of texture and timbre into herplaying takes the uncommon to a new place. I’ve been an ear witness to her progression from apurely acoustic improvisor who incorporates a variety of ‘found sounds’ (one of my favourites being when she attached a contact mic to her trumpet bell and used a mini-amp as a mute), to her current explorations with granular processing, micro-loop pedals and glitch delay, a perfectextension of her sound explorations.

To be clear, her playing is not about making the trumpet sound beautiful or melodic or particularly virtuosic in a traditional be-bop jazz or classical sense but is truly about sounding the instrument - this brass instrument with long curled tubes and short pipes. Her virtuosity can sometimes be tempered and understated because it’s not predictably flamboyant. Combining extended techniques and musical gestures into a unique expression and creatively ‘playing’ with whatever she wants to hear carries her music a long way. As somebody who performs with her I find it inviting, exciting and refreshing to improvise with Nicole. Embracing a wide spectrum of sound and being undaunted by preconceptions of perfection is something I love about the trio we have together called c_RL (pronounced curl) with Toronto percussion phenom Germaine Liu. All of us share an affinity for sound exploration and Nicole is a sound explorer who enjoys being playful with what she discovers.

Nicole’s use of noise and ‘found sounds’ goes hand in hand with her fascination with effects pedals and incorporating live signal processing into her performances. With these tools she opens up new worlds of texture for her compositions. Live manipulation of the dials on the pedals extends the possibilities of her expression making real time improvisation combined with real time composition an integral part of her solo performances. Part of her process is in choosing specific pedals which include different variations of micro-loopers and glitch delay. Each of
these pedals create different degrees of unpredictability (i.e. you don’t know which part of your playing is going to be looped until the pedal spits it out). Nicole is drawn to this type of processing because she says: “it’s similar to ruminating in that you can get fixated on something and let it grow/expand into something else.”

Musically, it’s an interesting way to consider the title of her album, Saudade, a Portuguese word that captures the complex emotional state of profound nostalgia and the recollection of an experience or a feeling that has passed; a feeling of something once cherished being forever lost.

If there is a narrative arc to the album, it comes through in the titles of her pieces. The first track A Tourist in My Youth is introduced with white noise and glitch electronics followed by the inner sounds of the trumpet sampled and processed. She overdubs this with pithy single note attacks from her acoustic trumpet. The titles Then Again... and ... And Then feature a trumpet solo over gritty multilayered loops bringing out Nicole’s virtuosity and humour at the same time.

Her processes are more literal in the three part Concurrent Panoramas. Part 1 bursts out with a mesh of buchla-esque electronics laying the foundation for slow, beautiful trumpet melodies that dip in and out of the texture. By Part 3 we get a sense of what ‘saudade’ might sound like. Thick delay is used underneath two somber trumpet lines in a development of melancholic melodies.

The blended sounds of her altered micro-samples with long, low-pitched trumpet lines brings out a deeper focus on timbral explorations in a wonderful mix of polyphony and tonal ambiguity.

In Erasure, she combines visceral textures, flexing the inner sounds of the trumpet’s long, curving tube perhaps in a nod to the influence of Axel Dörner.

The title track Saudade starts as an acoustic trumpet duo soon joined by a third, then gradually a fourth voice is added that morphs into sampled and processed trumpet. Just as the sound evolution becomes clear, the electronic manipulations continue to twist and subvert a traditional sense of thematic development and become more like a distant echoing of broken trumpet melodies. The loops, the glitch and the delays all enhance a sense of recollection and altered memories.

Co-producer Sandro Perri has masterfully blended the sounds of Nicole’s acoustic trumpet and her electronic effects to achieve a new level of exquisite production, and he also helped set the durations for these compositions. These are features that, I believe, distinguish this recording from others in the repertoire of the extended trumpet.

Nicole deconstructs the trumpet as she celebrates its beauty of sound. Humour runs throughout these pieces and it appears alongside the feelings of nostalgia, intermingled.

As time passes, an emotional memory tends to become larger in our brains and seem more significant. Instead of fading, our recollection helps to distort it creating an altogether different kind of memory. Emotionally we attach more meaning to this, perhaps hoping to recover something of our lost selves from a time gone by. In our so-called post-pandemic world, we all yearn for something we’ve lost while moving towards the unknown.

- Allison Cameron, May 22, 2023