Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fiori-Seguin - 1978 - Deux cents nuits a l'heure

Fiori-Seguin 
1978
Deux cents nuits a l'heure




01. Deux cents nuits à l'heure 8:21
02. Ça fait du bien 8:28
03. Illusion 7:27
04. Viens danser 6:01
05. Chanson pour Marthe 4:20
06. La moitié du monde 6:31
07. La guitare des pays d'en haut 6:20


Serge Fiori
12 string acoustic guitar, 12 string electric guitar, acoustic guitar, fender rhodes electric piano, tambourine, vocals, producer
Richard Séguin
12 string acoustic guitar, vocals, producer

Harmonium's Serge Fiori and Séguin's Richard Séguin were already aware of each other's talents, several years before their sole album as a duo. The pair appeared side by side as backup singers for Gilles Valiquette's album "Valiquette est en ville" in 1976. Already, the two's voices blended magnificently. It was during this same year that Séguin (the group) packed it in for good, and Richard participated as backup singer for Harmonium's "L'Heptade". Harmonium, in turn, sees things slow down to a full stop in 1977. Both Fiori and Séguin were looking for other outlets which could sustain their creativity, resulting in "Deux cents nuits à l'heure" in 1978. This album, marrying the pair's progressive and balladeer sides, sees the continuous participation of the majority of Harmonium's most recent line-up. Of all the album's tracks, the ones composed as a duo would be the most adventurous, with songs seeing tempo, rhythmic, and even stylistic changes throughout their length. Séguin's personal numbers foreshadow the compositional style he would continue to follow for his first solo album.
An extremely excellent album, they would be compensated for their efforts with several hundred thousand copies in sales. Séguin would next decide to go acoustic for his first solo album, before returning to a sound similar to Fiori- Séguin (minus the progressive aspects) for his second solo album. Fiori would cull songs and segments from the album for the live set of a reunited Harmonium, summoned by Québec premier René Lévesque for a Californian tour of Québec artists. (Jeff Fisher, one of Fiori- Séguin's keyboardists, would replace Serge Locat within Harmonium, and dominates the latter group's version of Fiori-Séguin's radio hit "Viens danser" as presented in the short film "Harmonium in California" by the National Film Board.) Fiori would soon retreat from the music world for several years, returning in the mid-1980's with a sound reflecting the era. Fiori-Séguin's sole album is the only remaining document of the brief time when the two singer-songwriters succeeded in marrying progressive notions to popular music, all the while being heralded by the Quebec public.

Harmonium - 1980 - En Tournee

Harmonium
1980
En Tournee





Disc 1:
01. Introduction (1:30)
02. Comme un fou (7:08)
03. Chanson Noire
.. Le bien, Le mal (4:22)
.. Pour une Blanche Cérémonie (4:10)
04. Le premier Ciel (20:52)

Disc 2:
05. L'Exil (11:58)
06. Le Corridor (3:50)
07. Lumière de Vie
.. Lumière de Nuit (4:17)
.. Lumière de Jour (2:38)
.. Lumière de Vie (0:51)
.. Lumière de Vie (2eme Partie) (3:12)
.. Lumière de Vie (3eme Partie) (4:44)
.. Lumière de Vie (Finale) (2:43)
08. Comme un Sage (15:30)



- Libert Subirana / flute, saxophone, vocals
- Serge Locat / piano, organ, Mellotron, synthesizers
- Monique Fauteux / Rhodes piano, vocals
- Robert Stanley / electric guitar
- Serge Fiori / acoustic & electric guitar, vocals
- Denis Farmer / drums, percussion
- Louis Valois / electric bass, Taurus (bass pedals)

Stunning, remarkable, beautiful, brilliant! I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe this album. Simply perfect, easily one of my favorite live albums. Harmonium takes L'Heptade and gives it a complete rebirth, with extended jams, and content that was impossible in the studio format. Serge Fiori's voice portrays emotion that can rarely be found and even is improved in the live format. Immediately after finishing this album I want to hear it again. I recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially those fond of acoustic music, keyboard music, and those hoping to find raw emotion through vocals. Basically the album takes the main songs from "L'Heptade" and extends them with very good results. Le Premier Ciel for example is extended 9 minutes with a wonderful sax solo and longer equally impressive keyboard solo to the studio version. This album is a masterpiece of Symphonic Progressive music and definitely deserves 5 stars.

Okay I know I'm just sounding like a fanboy but really, those who like live albums should really give this a shot, if you like "Les Cinq Saisons" you should really enjoy this album. And the good news is its now legally downloadable on iTunes and thus no longer a rare commodity.


Harmonium - 1976 - L'heptade

Harmonium 
1976
L'heptade





01. Prologue (4:20)
02. Comme Un Fou (7:50)
03. Sommeil Sans Rêves (1:25)
04. Chanson Noire (8:12)
 I) Le Bien, Le Mal
 II) Pour Une Blanche Cérémonie
05. L'Appel / Le Premier Ciel (11:12)
06. Sur Une Corde Raide / L'Exil (12:54)
07. Le Corridor (8:10)
08. Les Premières Lumières / Lumières De Vie (14:11)
 I) Lumière De Nuit
 II) Eclipse
 III) Lumière De Jour
 IV) Lumière De Vie
09. Prélude d'Amour / Comme Un Sage (14:03)
10. Épilogue (2:52)


 Progressive rock is literally littered with super-ambitious albums exploring well beyond the boundaries of the three- to four-minute pop song. Some of these albums fall well short of their mark. Some are very pleasant but not earth-shaking. And very few achieve the transcendence their creators aimed for. This is one album that does.

Harmonium was a Quebec-based band operating in the mid- to late-seventies, led by Montreal singer, guitarist and songwriter Serge Fiori. The Quebec music industry is very interesting. The province is a French-speaking one lodged in the middle of Anglo North America and hence has a distinct language and culture of its own. This distinctness has been the subject of much tension and controversy in Canadian politics for many decades, but I have no intention of getting into that here. The reason I mention this is Quebec’s language isolation has produced a very strong, self-contained and successful arts culture. Bands can go platinum and make a living just by releasing albums aimed at the 8 million or so consumers in the province (with presumably some outreach to other French-language nations). While English-speaking artists find themselves buried under an avalanche of competing American and UK content, Quebec artists find a supportive culture able and willing to give their works a chance.

The seventies saw the development of a proud Quebec-based French-language music industry, and this album is the jewel in its crown. The reason I point out all this is that if this album were in English, it likely would have achieved much wider listenership and acclaim, mentioned in the same breath as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, The Wall and other classic double albums.

Harmonium had given little sign that something like this was coming. The first album was a collection of jazzy folksongs, very pleasant but unembellished. The second album, Si on avait besoin d’une cinquième saison, is considered a Quebec classic and expands the group’s palette to include mellotron, longer and more dramatic songs and arrangements, and even the use of the fabulous ondes Martenot oscillator. But the overall style is still pretty folky. After that album, Fiori conceived of an extremely ambitious suite of songs that became L’Heptade. Essentially he’s the R. Waters of this album, taking control and directing the proceedings, but with the help of other former, current and supplementary members.

Instead of telling some personal family story as Waters tended to, Fiori is aiming much higher on this album: “evoking the journey of a man in one day through seven levels of consciousness”, according to the Wikipedia entry, levels which, it seems, contain sorrow and anguish, love and happiness, spiritual awakening and ultimate transcendence. I interpreted all that with what’s left of my broken high school French! I can only imagine how much more I’d enjoy it if I could truly appreciate the nuances of the lyrics.

1243343403_5Fiori retired to a country house with a big cast of musicians, including classical composer Neil Chotem, whose participation was integral to the album. The recording is a suite of songs linked with orchestral interludes reminiscent of Debussy or Ravel’s impressionistic works. They lend the album an elegant air and contrast with the jazzy/proggy and folky songs. I cannot emphasize how much Fiori is going for it on this recording — each song has several sections with elaborate, meticulous arrangements and some truly mind-blowing playing from all the musicians. And yet despite it all there’s an earthy earnestness to the proceedings — no pretense at all. This guy was laying it all on the line here, his very musical soul, and I’m happy to announce that he nailed it.

Fiori himself is a musical monster, possessed of one the most magical voices I’ve ever heard, moving from a smooth baritone to an unbelievably rich falsetto that Brian Wilson would die to possess. It’s also incredibly expressive, to the point where in a few places it appears to be breaking from emotion. Whether that was for real or an affectation, I don’t know, but it’s moving either way. He also is a great acoustic player (specializing in 12-string) and his songs are upliftingly melodic at all times.

But musical skill aside, it’s the naked, unashamed longing for higher things that provides the emotional pitch to this album and makes it so compelling.

Here’s how the album unfolds:

After a lengthy orchestral prologue by Chotem, “Comme un Fou” starts in a jaunty, French-jazzy way not dissimilar to Harmonium’s compadres in Beau Dommage (the other famous Quebecois group of the period) with Fiori’s voice swooping over virtuosic backing (the bass playing in particular is quite something, and there’s a ton of amazing synth work on this album) and choral backing vocals that set the tone for the entire double album. The song goes through Genesis-y sections to an aggressive gang-vocal midsection, resolving in an impressive synth solo.

“Chanson Noir” is possibly the cheeriest piece, a super-jazzy song more reminiscent of Harmonium’s first album.

It’s in the heart of the album, wherein presumably the soul in question is in its darkest phase, that we find the really beautiful stuff. “Premier Ciel” starts as a delicate folksong with string section and Fiori in ultra-dramatic vocal mode as the song builds gradually to a giant prog-rock synth freakout over the end — with horns and orchestra! An impressive way to spend eleven minutes.

Now things get really melancholy — perfectly so. “L’Exil” (“Exile”) is based around lovely broken 12-string chords and moody, magisterial organ. Fiori truly sounds like a broken angel as he sings this lament. In the centre of the piece is lengthy and very haunting solo on what has to the be ondes Martenot, accompanied only by the strings. It is, no foolin’, one of the most beautiful sections of music I’ve ever heard, unabashedly so. This is one of my favourite pieces of music.

Harmonium+liveThe second LP starts just as auspiciously with “Le Corridor“, a ballad sung by Monique Fauteux over tinkly, bubbling Rhodes. Again Fiori astonishes us in the second half of the tune with a hypnotic closing section based around repetitive acoustic guitar chords and a string pad sound I didn’t even know existed back then — there’s even proto-ambient music on this album!

And then we have the pièce de résistance, “Lumières de Vie“, wherein all the stops get pulled out. Solo classical-style piano moodily leads the track in, building up to a Romantic climax and leading into another broken-chord ballad, this time based around delicate nylon-string parts and swirling strings. A positively avant garde section that would do Morton Feldman proud takes up the middle section (eerie atonal voices and waves of electronics) before a truly astonishing lengthy section of solo piano that leads into the missing element so far: a tasteful harmony electric guitar lead to end the piece. All of our art-rock dreams come true in this one slab of music.

The wistful but happy-sounding “Comme un Sage” leads our soul to the light with its repeated, infectious chorus intoned joyfully by many heavenly voices. There’s one more surprise in store as Fiori and Estelle Ste-Croix ecstatically duel in gospel-style vocalise before the song’s crescendoing finale for full band and orchestra. After a final section of quiet strings, it’s over.

Talk about a labour of love! This is truly one of rock music’s most astounding achievements. No doubt each of these wonderful musical sections I’ve described has its place in the narrative, but honestly, I don’t even need to know what that might be. The music speaks for itself. What this album proves to me (other than that musical ambition can be truly glorious when it’s achieved) is that you don’t need to fluently understand a language to comprehend an album’s intended message. L’Heptade has had a profound emotional effect on me as a listener and will always be one of my very favourite albums. Do me and Monsieur Fiori a favour and have a listen to these links. Then get the album, which is quite available. I can say especially that any Canadian who considers him or herself a serious student of our musical culture should take the time to enjoy this essential contribution to our heritage.


Harmonium - 1975 - Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison

Harmonium 
1975 
Si On Avait Besoin D'une Cinquieme Saison





01. Vert (5:34)
02. Dixie (3:26)
03. Depuis L'Automne (10:25)
04. En Pleine Face (4:51)
05. Histoires Sans Paroles (17:12)

- Pierre Daigneault / flute, piccolo, Soprano saxophone, clarinet
- Serge Fiori / guitar, flute, zither harp, bass drum, vocals
- Serge Locat / piano, mellotron, synthesizer
- Michel Normandeau / guitar, accordion, vocals
- Louis Valois / bass guitar, electric piano, vocals
- Judy Richard / vocalisations (5)

This is an absolute masterpiece! Perfection! This is probably the most "beautiful" I have ever heard, and easily the best folk album I own. The progress from the debut to here is astronomical. They have piano, mellotron, 2 more musicians, even a song as long as Close to the Edge! They transformed from a simple melodic folk band into a progressive rock-folk one. For now, this album gives me more goosebumps than any album from Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and the Flower Kings. Here, you have the mellotron used at the best way possible, beating Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks and Fripp. This record is the definition of beauty. Anyways, the songs are the seasons and the last one something else (who knows, I don't know french)

Vert (Spring) begins the album with a wonderful flute melody. This is a song not very different from a song in the first album, yet superior in every aspect. The vocal harmonies are at their catchiest (think about the opener of the debut), the instrumentation is complex, accessible, and magical.

Dixie (Summer) sounds like a pop tune, but it is not a generic one. IT has some jazzy touches, yet keeps the folk. It is very upbeat, joyous, and makes you wanna dance to it! The piano playing is excellent here, especially the main riff.

Depuis l'automne (Autumn) is the song I heard in progarchives. This song is a bit darker than the previous two, and proggier. After the first verse/chorus (great simple folk), there's a short part where you hear a wonderful mellotron. After the second time, you get a much longer instrumental break where you hear a mellotron just impossible to describe in terms of how pretty it sounds. You don't only have the mellotron, you have other instruments, including a simple bass line and acoustic guitar that has both "echo" and "sustain" effects. The result is probably a passage that surpasses anything from Yes, Genesis, and this band itself! After that, a theme is repeated but then another theme is repeated which changes melancholia into pure euphoria!. This theme has some of the warmest, happiest, and most addicting vocals I have heard in a long time.

En Piene face (Winter) is another gorgeous short song, but a bit more melancholic. The last two minutes of the track features a wonderful repetitive theme with a great use of vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and accordion.

Histoires Sans Paroles is the epic of the album after the four seasons. The first movement is very uplifting and has one of the best flute melodies I ever heard. The next one is introduced by a wall of mellotron. It makes you think as if it is God playing the mellotron. I rarely heard such a wonderful use of the mellotron. Later, an electric piano plays with a multitude of guitars in unison. The theme continues with minor variations that make it even more gorgeous to listen to. A somewhat bizarre musical break follows and is faded eventually when the mighty mellotron takes over again until it is alone. Here, it sounds similar to the one used by Wakeman during Tales of Topographic Oceans. Strong musicianship that keep giving me goosebumps continue and the lonely mellotron passage is repeated. Brilliant music with with sax follows and Im still wondering what this song is about. Is it a fifth special season as a reference to something? Is this a musical version of heaven? of an utopia? What is this? This theme lasts for about 5 minutes as it grows and shape shifts into a much needed climax (mellotron freaks: here you have some beautiful flute-like mellotron). A very uplifting and upbeat section that brings back the intro of this composition concludes this gorgeous disc of heaven.

What are you waiting for? Even if you don't like folk nor prog, I think it is impossible to not get moved by the beautiful passages making up the 41 minutes in this album.


Harmonium - 1974 - Harmonium

Harmonium 
1974 
Harmonium





01. Harmonium (6:30)
02. Si Doucement (4:20)
03. Aujourd'hui, je dis bonjour à la vie (5:45)
04. Vielles courroies (5:40)
05. Attends-moi (4:29)
06. Pour un instant (3:16)
07. De la Chambre au Salon (5:35)
08. Un musicien Parmi tant d'Autres (7:02)

- Serge Fiori / guitar, flute, zither harp, bass drum, vocals
- Michel Normandeau / guitar, accordion, vocals
- Louis Valois / bass guitar, electric piano, vocals

guest musicians:
- Alan Penfold / flugelhorn
- Réjean Émond / drums

This Quebec-based Progressive rock band, who sang in French, has a very apt name in HARMONIUM. The core was a folk trio formed by guitarists Serge FIORI and Michel NORMANDEAU, and bassist Louis VALOIS. Their career was short (five years) and they released three studio albums in the mid-Seventies and a posthumous live album. They started off as a jazzy and typically French folk trio but began to delve into more progressive material on their brilliant second album, "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison" ("If We Needed a Fifth Season"). They are regarded as one of the finest exponents (along with POLLEN and MANEIGE) of the "Golden Era of Quebec Progressive Music" Scene.

"Harmonium" is a "folky" album, but it contains progressive elements too. By their 2nd album, they were very much a cross between a symphonic rock band and a folk band; an interesting combination which you can hear most clearly on the 20-minute "Histoire Sans Paroles". Overall, a perfect album to start your French Canadian prog collection. With "L'Heptade", they reached their symphonic/progressive zenith. In addition to the now increasingly large band, classical instruments and mellotron are used throughout. This elegant double album is a testament to the potential of the genre. Both are really satisfying; if you are a confirmed proggy-prog band head,to begin with. "Harmonium en tournée" is an excellent live version of their conceptual work "L'Heptade". Fans of brave musical experiments and elegant songwriting could not be disappointed by HARMONIUM..

This album is really the start of it all: superb vocals harmonies, two acoustic guitars and an electric bass; not your standard prog lp but splendid songwriting in French, sung with a mild Quebec accent. This is of course one of my fondest memories but this does not alter my judgement, as this is in my first ten records ever bought and I still listen to it now and then although I know it by heart. The latest edition comes with a bonus track, although not on the same level of this album, it is still worthy.

The title track is really superb and ends in a great moment of energy and is the only place on the album where drums are present. Chambre Au Salon and Bonjour A la Vie are personal tracks and about quitting drugs. Vieilles Courroies is another highlight (although some of those harmonies on there can sound ..... weird). Attends-Moi is simply the best pieces on here and the lyrics reach almost Gabe quality. Pour un instant is their best known number and is about forgiving and holds some superb guitar lines. The last number is also a highlight bit the finale is rather long, repeating one of their best two-liners: "On a mis quelqu'un au monde , on devrait peut-être l'écouter">> Somebody was brought into the this world, maybe we should listen to him.


Brégent - 1979 - Partir Pour Ailleurs

Brégent
1979 
Partir Pour Ailleurs





01. T'es Rock Coco(3:06)
02. Mes Longs Voyages (9:46)
03. Les Mouillures (2:49)
04. En Muet (2:43)
05. La Folle Complainte (4:40)
06. L'Intersection (5:09)
07. Couvre-Feu (0:52)
08. Liberté (3:53)
09. Qu'Ont Vu Tes Yeux? (1:20)
10. Sur Le Balcon (3:06)

Bonus on Cd reissue: Live at UQAM (77)
11. En Muet (2:59)
12. La Folle Complainte (4:47)
13. Sur Le Balcon (3:35)
14. Mes Longs Voyages (10:34)
15. L'Intersection/Couvre-Feu (6:23)
16. T'Es Rock Coco (4:23)
17. Dieu Est Nègre (5:44)

Jacques Brégent / vocals
M-G Brégent / keyboards
JG Monpetit / el guitar
Claude Chapleau / bass, cello
Sylvain Coutu / drums, percussion
------------
Jacques Laurin / bass
Vincent Dionne / percussions
Jean Sauvageau / snare drum
Choirs of L'Université De Montréal / choirs


After the demise of the brilliant DIONNE-BREGENT duo, Michel-Georges Brégent reformed with his brother Jacques their eponymous group and issued their second album, which was based on the same principle, the interpretation of poems/lyrics and the adaptation to music. The group assembled for the recording includes Vincent Dionne (but he will not tour) and Lasting Weep's bassist Claude Chapleau, but they will not have the double sax attack of their debut. Actually most of these tracks were written prior to the formation of DIONNE-BREGENT, but they were never recorded before 78 for this album. Graced with an intriguing face/eye artwork, the music is much rocker, but presents the same kind of adventurous forays into avant-garde music that Poussière Des Regrets.

After the horrible adaptation of Ferré's play on word of Rococo (including the communist allusion of "coco"), it is clear that they were much less inspired (this is the only track where the music is signed/adapted by Jacques, instead of Michel-Georges) than with Dieu Est Nègre on their debut album; but they quickly make up for it by the superb adaptation of Leclerc's Mes Longs Voyages, where they show the best of themselves. Indeed over the almost 10 minutes, Brégent will develop a stupendous spectrum of ambiances, dark, angst-filled improvs bordering free jazz. There will be another three Leclerc-inspired tracks, including lugubrious and gloomy Les Mouillures (the wettings), En Muet (in mute) on a cool jazz guitar, and much later in the album, the short Qu'Ont Vus Tes Yeux? (what saw your eyes) with its folk theme turning into a nightmarish circus music. Thopughout the album, the musicians are regularly at the forefront, amongst which Dionne's percussions and Chapleau's excellent bass playing, but also Brégent's Orchestron (a modern version of the mellotron I gather) and guitarist Monpetit's rare flute.

The up-tempo but tense Charles Trenet-inspired (of all people) La Folle Complainte is clearly another highlight, where singer Jacques can really show the wide mood ranges he is capable of, but the whole group jazzes meanly. L'Intersection (coupled with a short Couvre-Feu (curfew) is a stunning full-out 100MPH jazz-rock foraying into avant- prog with some wild female scats, and is yet another nail into your coffin, especially when reaching the martial Couvre-Feu part. Liberté is the only track of the album that was composed expressly for this album and it sticks out a bit: coming with an extended vocal section (often closing on operatic feels), the piece could be coming from a Zappa album, had it the slightest hint of humour. Excellent but not easy. The closing and menacing Sur Le Balcon (on the loggia) with Dionne's vibraphone is yet another highlight.

The ProgQuebec reissue comes with a bonus live recording of the group prior to this album's recording (thus showing that most of these tracks were indeed much anterior to the album's release) in June 77 at UQAM University. Almost all of these tracks will be presented on Pour Partir Ailleurs, which in a bit deceiving, but it is interesting to compare the work-in-progress versions, where Longs Voyages and Intersection are the best, but cannot compete with the later studio versions. Only a short version of Dieu Est Nègre belongs to the debut album, but fails to show the insanity of the piece that was the cornerstone of the concerts in the first half of the decade. Not really bringing that much of added value, these live tracks (as well as the album per se) will be of interest to those that have a good mastery of French, but it is not absolutely essential, either as the music is stunning enough to be worth the investing price alone.


Dionne-Brégent - 1977 - Deux

Dionne-Brégent
1977
Deux




01. Ouverture
02. Le Prophète : Suite Fraternelle
  a. Dans Lma Mémoir DutEmps (
  b. Evocation de Ké
  c. Lethargie
  d. Chant Faternel
  e. Danse Francoise
  f. Gratte-Ciel Polyphonique/Postlude
03. Campus
04. Transit Express

- Vincent Dionne / percussionist
- Michel Georges Brégent / keyboardist

Guest musicians:
- Pierre Cormier / congas
- Carpentier, Devito / trombonne
- Archambault, Lagace / trumpet
- Margot Morris / harp

One of the weirder things of this Quebecois duo is that their two albums are completely different, yet just as stunningly beautiful. With this album, the duo is definitely more inclined between TD and Mike Oldfield or Vangelis or even in some ways Jean Michel Jarre. One could also think of some of The Enid's most symphonic works too. Although not nearly as adventurous s the first album (as the rather bland artwork will tell you right away) the album is nonetheless extremely interesting in the way that that the album is an Vangelico- Oldfield-Froesian masterpiece and more than just a heavily influenced album, a great album, period.

Much more interesting than the rather empty Tubular Bells or Incantations, much more enthralling and Froese's Aqua or Ash Ra's later 70's music and much more convincing than Vangelis' Earth, this album is an altogether more accessible album than their debut collaboration, but just as stupendous (even grandiose, but never cheesy) in its own way. As you might guess, the multi-movement suite of Le Prophète is the centrepiece, but the twoi tracks on side 2 are also worth their weight, even if Campus has a not too-lengthy drum/percussion solo (not a fan of those).

Well this second album is greatly different from its debut, but in its own way, is just as essential. A third album was foreseen and partly written, but apparently not really recorded except for one great track (in the same genre as Deux) for a soundtrack, and is presented as a bonus on the re-issue.


Dionne-Brégent - 1976 - ...Et Le Troisième Jour

Dionne-Brégent 
1976
...Et Le Troisième Jour





..Et Le Troisième Jour
01. Incarnation (4:55)
02. Chant D'Espoir (4:54)
03. Chant D'Espoir (5:58)
04. Résurrection (6:09)

L' Exil Du Jour
05. Possession/Destination (10:51)
06. Choc D'Or (0:08)
07. Temple Du Silence (1:25)
08. . Des Cycles Et Des Passions (6:14)
09. Transcendance Du Lieu/Délivrance (3:57)


- Vincent Dionne / percussionist
- Michel Georges Brégent / keyboardist
- Pauline Vaillancourt / soprano (3)



Brothers Michel-Georges (keyboards) and Jacque Brégent (vocals) started their own rock group with two saxes, where they illustrated musically the texts of XXth century French-speaking poets (like Baudelaire, Verlaine and Villon) but also some of the more revered "Chansonniers" Léveillé and Leclerc and semi-anarchist Léo Ferré. Jacques sang those texts with great liberty of adaptation, being very dynamic ranging from whispering to yelling with a great voice. Their sonic illustrations were fairly dramatic, jazzy, gothic, sometimes fraying into free-jazz improvs, unique, inventive (at the time, but still sounds quite uncommon today) and dare I say it: progressive. They released their first album in 72 called enigmatically Poussières Des Regrets (dust of regrets) where Ferré's Dieu Est Nègre (god is nigger) is the centrepiece is at times stupendous. The whole album is filled with impressive compositions that sounded quite innovative for the times.

The group kept on for a while, until the mid 70's when Michel Georges teamed up with then-relatively unknown Vincent Dionne (a brilliant percussionist at ease in all sorts of music) and founded the superb DIONNE-BREGENT duo, first sounding like TANGERINE DREAM meeting NEU! and then with their second like Mike Oldfield.

It is only after this collaboration ended that the brother reunited the group in 79 (although there were no saxes this time, but with Vincent Dionne on percussions) to record their second Pour Partir Ailleurs (for going elsewhere) which repeated the formula of their first album, this time making emphasis on Leclerc (who had become Quebec's soul and an icon only rivalled by the older Gilles Vignault), even if the album is rockier, but stays very progressive with dark and haunting atmospheric moments and elsewhere pointing to avant-prog. This second album got a recent reissue with ProgQuebec, as probably will their first one soon. Michel Georges went on to compose electro-acoustic modern classical music for much of the 80's before sadly leaving us in 93.

 D-B's first album is one of the most amazing album coming out of Quebec (if you are familiar with La Belle Province's 70's progressive scene, that is) and the least you can say is that they were unique in not only Canada, but in the whole of the New World. The collab of Vincent Dionne (an amazingly descriptive - musically speaking - percussionist that even created his own instrument, the Madriphone) and Michel Georges Brégent (a keyboardist having recorded with his brother an album or two with his brother before and a few solo after this duo) is miraculous in the superb results this album gives.

The first side of this thematic album (great artwork, BTW) is very close to a cross of TD's best symphonic works (from Ricochet to Force Majeure) and TD's earlier Pink-era albums (Zeit) to Kraftwerk Man-Machine-styled minimalism, yet in many cases, D-B is very much superior to those. Do this sound incredibly good? You betcha!!! It even trounces some of the genre's best works, slapping most of Krautrock silly for not coming up with such evident, implacable and astounding (yet so simple) music. The first side of the vinyl is made of the self-titled suite and approaches perfection that even the best could NEVER match. From the two parts Chant D'Espoir (with the tears of joys guaranteed with Pauline Vaillancourt (a superb soprano in its second pazrt) abd the very evolving Resurrection (start from percussive to end up symphonic), this album is simply awesome and flawless. Burt let's face it, there is part of reconstruction because the master tapes were simply not well kept and parts had to be taken from the vinyls.

How can a second side succeed to such a perfect predecessor? By being completely different, of course, and D-B makes sure they did that right. The mood is more dedicated to free (almost improvised) percussions with gloomy nightmarish electronic ambiances like Eno, Schulze and Froese, or even Ralf And Florian (Kraftwerk) or the other Florian (Fricke of the early Popol Vuh albums). This album is certainly schizophrenic, and if on the first side Vincent was at the service of Michel Georges, on this other side, M-G is at the service of Vincent. And while again, not really groundbreaking, they manage to take the musical genre to perfection. The music is often gothic and cosmic-psychedelic (the way Floyd was in the UmmaGumma studio album), and is as strong as Zeit or Affenstunde.

While the proghead might appreciate better the first side, they will certainly concede that the second is not far behind, even if in a completely different ballgame. Is this album among the best Krautrock? In your best ten, most likely, once you've discovered it.


Conventum - 1979 - Le Bureau Central Des Utopies

Conventum 
1979 
Le Bureau Central Des Utopies





01. Le Reel Des Elections (2:48)
02. Ateliers I Et V (4:12)
03. Fondation (6:13)
04. Choregraphie Lunaire (8:18)
05. La Belle Apparence (2:15)
06. Fanfare (4:25)
07. Trois Petits Pas (4:19)
08. Le Reel A Mains (3:26)
09. Le Bureau Central Des Utopies (10:12)

bonus tracks
10. Le Pays Du Bruit (8:18)
11. Le Commerce Nostalgique (7:50)


- Bernard Cormier / violin, percussion
- André Duchesne / acoustic guitar, dulcimer, voice
- Jacques Laurin / bass
- René Lussier / electric guitar, 12-string, percussion
guest:
- Jean Derome / flute

 Down to a quartet, Conventum attacked this second album is the same verve as they had, their first and the results are as flamboyant as on their debut. As their previous album had gathered a confidential success, conventum persevered in the direction they had chosen, but they avoided making a carbon copy of the debut. Gone are Bouchard and vocalist Painchaud, but the overall sound remains unchanged, almost completely acoustic. This record was recorded just a month before the first Independence referendum regarding the Quebec separatism, and one can feel that "utopist" issue dominates this album (at least partly).

Lead off track is halfway between a jig and a Ritournelle and outlines the definite Folk flavour that will characterize this album from its predecessor. Atelier is a delightful piece very reminiscent of the medieval ambiances heard in the previous album, somehow fairly close to Anthony Phillips's late 70's works on arpeggios. Fondation is a rather arduous (and lengthy) piece with an uneasy construction (reminding you of the nervous live bonus tracks of the debut), and not my favorite track even if the progression is impressive. Next up is the cornerstone Choregraphie Lunaire, which starts very slowly, hauntingly and creepily grows to a solemn atmosphere that maybe only Harmonium in the Histoire Sans Paroles could approach crossed with a Frippian electric guitar and a Hackett acoustic guitar >> awesome and spine-chilling! Ending on a short jig-like trad folk, this first side offers moments of pure delights, but it is uneven.

Fanfare (opening side 2 ) has a deceiving name , but is well in the line of the album as well as Trois Petit Pas (more reflective and somber). The music sometime comes to early Univers Zero's chamber music, or more likely Julverne. Tic and Tacs actually wake you up from a certain torpor, that you had settle you, but the tracks quickly turns into the least interesting and folkiest track of the album. But soon comes the title track that is certainly the centerpiece of the album. A rather gloomy landscape unfolds in front of yours ears, with a haunting cello, a few vocals (another change compared to the debut album: the vocals are much less present) and a splendid atmosphere. Once again the album has some bonus tracks which are valuable (they come from Conventum's 82 reunion, recorded live) and as interesting they might be, could've been coupled with the previous album's bonus tracks to make a full album. I believe this is important to mention, because the worthy bonus tracks are however breaking away from both album's spirit. If PaysDu Bryuit isvery much a theatrical thing much the same way the other bonus track of the debut album Commerce Nostalgique is a superb track meddling medieval guitars , a jazzy bass and a solemn cello. Overall, this album is slightly less superb than its predecessor (less accessible also), but still very much worth your investment. Both albums have been recently re-issued by ProgQuebec, which all progheads will agree is very much worthyof supporting. Run for it!


Conventum - 1977 - A L'Affut D'Un Complot

Conventum 
1977 
A L'Affut D'Un Complot





01. La Valse des Fous (1:17)
02. Les Criticotteuses (5:18)
03. À l'Affût d'un Complot (6:03)
04. La Bataille (6:03)
05. Le Piège (2:48)
06. Le Sablier et les Petits Travaux (2:15)
07. Les Reels du Conventum (4:51)
08. La Première Pièce (21juillet) (6:19)
09. Ronde (6:06)

Live Au Centre D'essai Le Conventum
10. 21 Jours D'un Hotel A L' Autre (1:34)
11. Frappe-A-Bord (9:18)
12. Ricanage (0:43)
13. Les Huissiers (4:28)
14. Totem (2:06)
15. Y'a Mon Père (2:05)
16. Rappel De La Foule (0:56)


- Jean-Pierre Bouchard / acoustic guitar, tenor recorder
- Bernard Cormier / violin, métallophone
- André Duchesne / acoustic guitar
- Jacques Laurin / electric bass, double bass
- René Lussier / electric guitar, 12-string, mandolin
- Alain-Arthur Painchaud / recite-delinquent

With:
- Louise Forestier / voice
- Sylvie Choquette / vocals
- Charles Kaczynski / violin, viola, cello
- Matthieu Léger / percussion
- Michel Therrien / saxophone viola, oboe

Conventum is one of those typical Quebecois projects to have come in the second half of the 70's. As soon as 72, Duschene arrived in a cultural circle which included sculptors and theatre groups. For some five years anf much musicians passing by, through, back or away, Conventum lived a slow birth, but will see its first album on the ultra small (and now ultra collectible) label Le Tamanoir. By this time, Conventum was developing a progressive music crossing chamber music and rock. Their first album, A L' Affût D' Un Complot (on the look out of a plot), this music was also highly theatrical, acoustic and satirical, and in many regards if not really avant-garde, sufficiently groundbreaking, but also full of traditional folk music around that time was recorded a concert in their home base which will be released much later (as bonus tracks) and presents a much more experimental phase/facet of theirs. The following year, Conventum released their second album on the same crazy and satirical musical grounds, Le Bureau Central des Utopies released on another ultra small label Cadence. Unfortunately, this was to be their last album and most musicians will drift into different directions. Conventum is best appreciated with a good mastering of the French language (their French singing is actually quite neutral and easily understood), but can be easily enjoyed by most adventurous progheads, as the music is often breathtaking.

While this debut album was released on Le Tamanoir label, it received two CD release both with the original stupendous debut album, but also the much weirder live show they held on April 17, 1977. For this album, Conventum presented themselves as a sextet, but were often enhanced by many more - including Kaczinsky, Forestier and Leger (Orchestre Sympathique). Their mostly acoustic sound is very impressive, highly cultivated (very inclined on semi-medieval and old folk music), half of it instrumental, and is best described as avant-folk-prog.

So this release could be presented as two different albums and actually are quite different. As much as the original album is superb, full of delicate ambiances and delightful folk and classic fusion and can be used by any proghead to clear his mind of his problem and escape into a wild world of beauty, as much as the live album is demented, demonic, weird, lurking, somber , macabre (at times), demented and frightful, but very impressive and theatrical.

After a short intro, where Coventum ask you if you are comfortable (you are in for one hell of a ride), a flood of guitar arpeggios is overwhelming you as the small piccolo flute and alto sax are accompanying the superb vocal duet (Les Criticotteuses is a superb play on words combining criticizing and knitting) when two violins are underlining this bed of desire: spine-chilling, yet, no-one will resist it. The following title track is much in the same vein, but become slightly more urgent and inquietant, but the lyrics are about as grandiose as Gabriel or Hammill could ever get, and the guitars oscillate between Anthony Phillips and Fripp's The Crafty League Of Guitarist. La Bataille (the battle), the next track is also the poignant theme track from a movie from a member of Le Conventum artistic circle. The mood is dark, grave and beautiful, with the strings setting such a splendid bed of dreams for the guitars to lay it on thick the drama. Le Piège (the trap) is also from the same movie, but is rather quieter but still quite impressive although, it is quite schizophrenic too, with its wild choirs appearing from nowhere, blowing up a storm and disappearing as quick as they came. The next three tracks are instrumental and still in the line of the album reaching from chamber music to slightly modified jigs. Last track was also a theme for yet another colleague's film and it is yet another flamboyant success around a very modified jig>> absolutely masterful.

The second part of the record is a live concert and presents a very different facet of Conventum, much more tense, nervous, slightly more aggressive, very theatrical, but also just as dramatic (if not more) than the studio album. Although still excellent, (but maybe less immediate without the accompanying images), these tracks suffer from the proximity and superb beauty of the studio album tracks. Here the mood is more to a nervous Stravinsky or psychedelic Prokofiev (Peter And The Wolf). Very impressive, but for this party, French language becomes almost mandatory, but their prose is impressively poetic. Clearly Conventum was a forerunner of sorts for future Quebecois groups such as Miriodor and Interference Sardines. Their capacity at making this acoustic chamber music but rendering incredibly rock with just a few ingredients is immense and Conventum deserves to be re-discovered to its true value.



Charles Kaczynski - 1978 - Lumiere de la nuit

Charles Kaczynski
1978
Lumiere de la nuit





01. Eclipse (3:34)
02. Lumière de la nuit (5:57)
03. Eveil du soleil (2:35)
04. Chant de rêve (0:34)
05. Liberté (5:38)
06. Père de la terre (2:30)
07. Arrivée (2:00)
08. Réincarnation (2:56)
09. Naissance (3:37)
10. Conscience (2:48)
11. Indépendance (2:10)
12. Evolution (0:52)
13. Utopie (1:12)
14. Euphorie (2:33)
15. Départ (2:35)


Charles Kaczynsky / violin, cellos, guitars, bass, keyboards , wind instruments and percussions

Charles Kaczynski is a musician who worked prevalently in Quebec's late 70s scene including a guest stint in the band Conventum. He recorded one solo album at the time, entitled Lumiere de la Nuit or Light of the Night in its English version (the only difference between the two being the translation of the title). Kaczynski's album has long been considered a collector's item for fans of Canadian progressive music and it's quite deserved. A delicate, rich work, Lumiere de la Nuit reveals its charms through its thoughtful arrangements and true juxtaposing of chamber classical and symphonic elements, an effort probably only rivaled in beauty by L'Engoulevent's sole album. Instrumentally this is a very rich piece, with loads of strings (the back cover shows Kaczynski playing violin), winds and vocals. I'd be hard pressed to call this a symphonic rock album, however, as it really never does move over from a chamber type setting to a band mode with the only dominant percussion being tympani accompaniment and the like. About the only non-symphonic/chamber classical elements that are brought in are some touches of folk on the second side. Mostly what you get is a layered, multi-part symphony with a slight melancholy atmosphere and lots of string solos and thoughtful arrangements. Lumiere de la Nuit is one of the highlights of Quebec's excellent 70s music history.

This album came out between the two Conventum albums (he was a guest on the first and a full-time member on the second) and is likely to interest all progheads especially those loving the progressive folk of Conventum. While the album is not in the same style (this is very close to classical music) as the group, there are enough characteristics that will endear you to it. Graced with an almost "prog" artwork, the album is really a solo album since Kaczinsky chose to play every single instruments and "sang" (not many moments of singing or scatting) the whole thing too.
Musically as I stated above we are hovering between classical music (with the pre-classical folk music in mind as well), but the whole thing manages to retain a bit of rock atmosphere most notably around the half of the album. With only two tracks that are expressly sung, there are a few more where Kaczynsky experiments with his choirs (composed of his multi-tracking self) in sorts that it comes almost as jazz scats. The overall feel of the album is still quite violin-dominated and obviously this can only lead to a rather conventional fusion of folk, classical and soft rock. One of the (very) few negative remark I can think of, is that Kaczynsky's choice to have absolutely no-one intervening on his album (except for the sound technician) is that he lacked a sense of perspective and the album sometimes gets a bit lost.

Yves Laferriere - 1978 - Yves Laferriere

Yves Laferriere 
1978 
Yves Laferriere




01. Ouverture: Le son qui nous unit (4:44)
02. Des instruments charges à blanc (4:36)
03. La douce odeur de l'encens (3:11)
04. Anastasie Oh! ma chérie (theme du film) (3:35)
05. Merida! Merida! (3:59)
06. La cuisine rouge (5:33)
07. La samba du Bas-du-Fleuve (5:32)
08. Mouvements (7:49)

Bonus tracks from the ProgQuebec release MPM11
09-12. Musiques extraites du film "La cuisine rouge" (6:01)


- Yves Laferriere / bass, electric piano
- Pierre St Jacques / keyboards
- René «Conventum» Lussier / guitars
- Richard Perrotte / drums, percussions
- Mathieu «Pollen» Leger / percussions, drums
- Bernard Cormier / violin
- Josiane Roy / violin
- Monique «Contraction» Fauteux / vocals
- Francois Richard / flute
- Libert "Harmonium" Suburana / saxes, flute
- Jean "Orchestre Sympathique" Vanasse / vibraphone

Those people aware of one of Quebec's seminal group Contraction (which came from Frank Dervieux's heritage), should be aware of bassist Laferrière's important role in the group. While not the only person carrying the group, he was actually a bit surprising that he would be the only ex-Contraction member to release solo albums (there is a second one dating from the 80's), but this solo album is much worthy of the proghead's ear.

Graced with a star-studded guest (from Harmonium to Orchestre Sympathique and from Pollen to Conventum), the album develops a JR/F that is not that far from what Contraction was doing. This feeling is reinforced with ex-Contraction vocalist Monique Fauteux laying out her vocals generously throughout the album. Generally the fusion develops is rather calm (but not bland or tame) and reflective, but does not hesitate to get a bit wilder as the second track (Blank Shot-Loaded Instruments) and the almost 8-min finale Mouvements. And the ProgQuebec re-issue comes with four short but splendid musical extract from a film Cuisine Rouge, although the music is not immediately related with the album-track of the same name.

Graced with those short bonus tracks, this album's overall interest gets raised a tad more, but does not manage to make the album anymore essential than its original version. Still very much worth the spin, if you are a Dervieux/Contraction fan.

Yvan Ouellet - 1979 - Le Chant Des Choses

Yvan Ouellet
1979 
Le Chant Des Choses




01. Le Chant des choses
02. De Mont St-Pierre à Tahiti
03. Sagittaire
04. Escale à Clipperton
05. Le Temps a laissé son manteau
06. The Fool on the Hill
07. Mutation

Yvan Ouellet - keyboards
Yves Laferrière - bass
Christiane Robichaud-vocals
Richard Perotte... - drums

Marie-Claire Séguin - vocals, ac guitars
Raôul Duguay.- trumpet

Although Yvan was a member of Ville Emmard Blues Band and Toubabou, both recording all their stuff by the end of 75, Yvan's only solo album came out in late 79, and with the help of ex-Contraction members, but his career had started as soon as 72 , co writing one of Quebec most poignant classic song Le Plus beau Voyage.. So by the end iof the 70's, he met the Contraction crowd and let their bassist/producer convince him of recording a solo album. Soo while there are only four Contractionists (not present all the time either), it's definitely an album that bear the palm of Laferrière (with one of the Perrotte brothers in the engineer booth and the other on the drum stool, and the delicious Christiane on three tracks) but this has limits.

The opening title track is already a song that had appeared on the second Toubabou album, that time sung by Lise Cousineau. I have a hard time preferring one version to the other, Ouellet's piano is always solemn, often romantic, sometimes drowned under orchestral arrangements (the instrumental St Pierre), but at times it feels like a piano bar (St Pierre again). The album's centrepiece is obviously the 8-mins Sagitaire, but it sinks relatively quickly into a huge pot of cheese fondue Clipperton is more of the same. Just soft pudgy easy-listening stuff, which was probably aimed at another public than the rock crowd. The only track to pull us out of our sleep-induced torpor is the Beatles's Fool on The Hill, but even then, you'll sink back quickly as it is a two-piano part only, and at a full six minutes, it's overstaying its welcome. The presence of Raoul Duguay and Marie Séguin is due to Ouellet's prior collaboration with them, and here they pay a polite visit, but their presence doesn't change the outcome of the music.


Jacques Blais - 1975 - Themes

Jacques Blais 
1975 
Themes




01. Le Thème
02. Sept-quatre
03. Le Matin
04. Ascencoeur
05. Vrai ou fou
06. T'as des nuages
07. Bord en bar
08. Finale du thème

- Jacques Blais / guitars, lead vocals
- Christiane Robichaud / vocals, vocal and flute arrangements
- Yves Laferrière / bass, vocals
- Robert Lachapelle / piano, electric piano, organ,
- Jean-Jacques Robichaud / vflute


Self-taught guitarist that played a few years on the local Quebec scene in various line-ups, , sharing stages with Octobre, Maneige, etc. Jacques Blais became one of Quebec's best guitarists (along with Frank Marino) and his reputation grew to the point of playing prestigious shows without having recorded an album (yet). Late 74, despite having his own and upon hearing Contraction's second album La Bourse Ou La vie, he asked the group's bassist Yves Laferrière to produce his first album, and soon enough most of the band was backing Blais, not only in the studio, but in the next few months' following its release in 75. With an ordinary picture as artwork, Blais' Thèmes album became a favourite and even gained some local award as "experimental album of the year", but rest assured, there is nothing experimental about this great funky jazz-rock album, where Contraction leaves an indelible paw on it, despite all tracks being written by Blais himself.

Musically besides being a worthy Contraction album, Blais' wonderful and warm guitar virtuoso and autodidact style is plenty more reason to fall under the spell of Thèmes, which appears to be a musical thematic album Starting on Robichaud's inimitable vocals, the "Theme" is a lovely quiet intro, moving on to a mid-tempoed piece where Blais' guitar takes the listener by the emotions soaring in the sky, before the closing section returns with Christiane's heavenly vocalizing. Sept Quatre is a 7/4 piece that was quite popular on the radio airwaves and features wordless vocals ala Wishbone Ash in Argus, but Contraction is blasting away, while Blais is now reaching the stratosphere. Le Matin is a Blais-sung track (accompanied by Chrstiane's brother on flute), but Blais' voice is certainly not his main feature. Ascencoeur (a clever pun associating elevator and heart) is a slow developing crescendoing piece dominated by Blais guitar, ending the first side and contrasting heavily with the flipside opener.

Indeed Vrai Ou Fou (true or crazy) is a schizophrenic piece contrasting between an evil guitar riff and more atmospheric moments, but in the end, the guitar histrionics win easily, Blais putting in a brilliant performance, although pushed to the limit by Contraction. T'as Des Nuages (you have clouds, but bunch of clouds if you remove the apostrophe) is another Blais-sung track, but neither outstanding, nor standing out Bord En Bar sees the discreet return of Christiane Robichaud, but the track is a Hendrixian guitar fest, while the closing Thèmes is a reprise of the middle section of the opening track.

After parting company with Contraction in July that year, the second part of 75 will see Blais enjoying major local success, sharing Festival stages with Offenbach, Aut'chose, Conventum and Michel Madore. By mid-76, Blais had formed a new duo called Fantasia, improvising very popular gigs, before performing for Mick Jagger's birthday (in Montreal to see the Olympics). Fantasia will grow, including members of Eclipse, Pollen and Pouls and will eventually release in 77 an album called Jacques Blais & Fantasia, produced by Harmonium's Michel Normandeau, but this is another story. In the meantime, Themes is an extremely fine album, one that was almost forgotten, but the fantastic duo of ProgQuebec just unearthed this gem.


Franck Dervieux - 1971 - Dimension M

Franck Dervieux
1971
Dimension M




01. Dimension M (6:33)
02. Atlantide (6:04)
03. Hyperborée Civilization (5:05)
04. Concerto Pöur Les Mondes Perdus (8:55)
05. Orejona Major (5:35)
06. Present Du Futur (5:00)

Franck Dervieux / piano, piano électrique, orgue
Yves Laferrière / basse
Christiane Robichaud / voix
Michel Robidoux / guitare acoustique, 12 cordes
Christian St Roch / batterie
Terry King / violon électrique
Michel Sequin / percussions


A cult figure of the Quebec Prog scene, Franck Dervieux was the keyboardist of well-known singer Jean-Pierre Ferland.He was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and once he regained his strength he went on to record a solo album completely dedicated to his doctors.''Dimension M'' came out in 1972 on Columbia with the participation of Yves Laferrière on bass, Christiane Robichaud on vocals, Michel Robidoux on guitars, Christian St Roch on drums, Terry King on violin and Michel Seguin on percussion.

The album kicks off with the bizarre eponymous Avant/Psych/Prog instrumental, which has a nice abstract organic sound before turning into a Psychedelic Rock guitar instrumental.The following ''Atlantide'' is simply beautiful, based on Dervieux'es work on grand piano and offering a starting jazzy flavor, before turning into complex Symphonic Rock with organ on the forefront and a solid rhythm section and ending with Robichaud's Parisienne wordless singing, as the singer grew up in Paris.''Hyperborée Civilization'' is another fast pace piano-driven fiery instrumental with some wordless vocals, featuring the great violin soloing of Terry King and Dervieux'es excellent performance on piano.The long ''Concerto Pour Les Mondes Perdus'' starts with a very haunting groove characterized by deep bass lines, obscure vocals, pounding drums and even harpsichord before melting into a soft Classical-inspired piano performance by Dervieux and lifting again up with King's stormy violin work and Robidoux'es psychedelic guitars.''Orejona, Mater'' is a smooth piece of acoustic instrumentals,filled with mellow violins, piano and vocal lines to calm things down before the closing grandiose ''Present du futur'' and its powerful organ intro, followed by a piano/organ interplay, having a strong Classical inspiration, and Dervieux delivering also some great electric piano parts, a nice track of Proto-Fusion stylings with a very rich and dynamic sound.

Sadly Dervieux did not make it, as he died shortly after, while his back-up band went on to form the progressive group Contraction.Several of Contraction's members were also part of the legendary Ville Emard Blues Band.

Contraction - 2009 - Live 1974

Contraction 
2009 
Live 1974




01. We Made It (3:37)
02. Chat Bruinne / Star-Child (5:14)
03. Solid Shine (1:53)
04. Le temps fuit comme une ombre (9:08)
05. Trois ou Quatre (5:37)
06. 42 Nord (1:46)
07. Pixieland (3:23)
08. Sagesse (3:22)
09. La bourse ou la vie (17:48)

-bonus-

10. Sagesse (demo) (3:27)

Yves Laferrière - bass
Christiane Robichaud - vocals
Robert Lachapelle - keys
Robert Stanley - guitar
Rawn Bankley - guitar
Denis Farmer - drums

Montreal's Studio Tempo Sessions winter of 1974, in order to participate in CKVL-FM's radio series "Performances".


 "During the Winter of 1974, CKVL-FM presented a Progressive Rock concert series entitled "Performances", recorded live at Studio Tempo in Montreal.That night, we shared the bill with the British group GENTLE GIANT. It was a memorable evening. Due to technical problems having delayed the English group's concert,we only began to play at around 1:00 AM in the morning, in a state of advanced fatigue !" I really enjoyed their studio album called "La Bourse Ou La Vie" in fact I would rate it better than this live release and I noticed that Hugues has the same feelings. It's not that this live performance isn't a good one, but I do have issues with it especially early on. Christiane the singer reminds me a little of Joni Mitchell and she sings in French and English during this concert. My problems with the early part of this concert is that she seems to get show-cased. It's all about the vocals until the fifth track, and that's disappointing because I love the instrumental work of this band which seems to be more the focus on the studio album I own.

"We Made It" is one of those songs with the focus on the vocals but we do get some nice relaxed guitar led sections. "Chat Bruinne / Star-Child" is another mellow tune with Christiane taking the spotlight. "Solid Shine" is more of a pop song. "Le Temps Fuit Comme Une Ombre" is led by vocal melodies and guitar early before the drums and piano join in. It turns jazzier after 6 1/2 minutes.This is the first track that I really enjoy. "Trois Ou Quatre" is even better and a top three for me. It comes to life after a minute and we get a great sound 3 minutes in.This is more like it ! This continues right to the end. Nice. "42 Nord" is a short pastoral track with vocal melodies. "Pixieland" is a top three as well with the prominant bass to start as it builds quickly.Guitar and piano lead a minute in. Excellent sound here.

"Sagesse" is like the earlier tracks with the focus on the vocals. "La Bourse Ou La Vie" is the almost 18 minute closer and my favourite.Vocal melodies come to the fore 1 1/2 minutes in and the guitar follows leading the way with piano and drums.The guitar is lighting it up before 4 minutes. It then settles back 5 1/2 minutes in but then slowly builds. A calm before 8 minutes as a laid back sound with vocals comes in. Another calm 11 1/2 minutes in then solo piano takes over.Vocal melodies join in at 13 1/2 minutes. It starts to kick back in after 15 minutes. A nice ride.


Contraction - 1974 - La Bourse Ou La Vie

Contraction 
1974 
La Bourse Ou La Vie




01. Jos Coeur (ouverture) (1:01)
02. L'Alarme À l'Oeil (3:48)
03. Claire Fontaine (6:00)
04. Sam M'Madown (3:33)
05. Jos Coeur (fermeture) (4:57)
06. Vent Du Sud (0:46)
07. La Bourse Ou La Vie (17:54)
 a. Au Commencement
 b. Tout Seul Comme Un Grand Piano
 c. La Bourse Ou La Vie
08. L'Âme À Tout Faire (4:58)


- Christiane Robichaud / vocals, vocal and flute arrangements
- Yves Laferrière / bass, vocals
- Robert Lachapelle / piano, electric piano, organ, Eminent organ, synthesizer
- Robert Stanley / guitars
- Richard Perotte / drums
- Jimmy Tanaka / congas, percussion
- Marcel Beauchamps / guitars, Eminent organ
- Denis Farmer / drums
- Jean-Jacques Robichaud / vocals
- Carlyle Miller / flute
- Joey Armando / timbales

By the time the second Contraction album was out, their mentor Frank Dervieux was dead and they dedicated their second and final record to him. The line-up stayed pretty stable but by now they had a solid partnership with the Perotte brothers, one of them is producing and the other drumming. The music developed in this album is the logical progression of their debut, not only in songwriting, but also in terms of all around musicianship. Christiane Robichaud is impressive in the imaginative use of her slightly above average but very pleasing voice and still delivering typical Quebecois -tinged French lyrics. Again, most of the music falls under the Laferriere & Lachapelle tandem with Stanley take the forefront with his fluid guitar lines and the occasional flute breaks from Miller. Again the first side is full of shorter tunes, some of them a bit in the radio-song format, but is book-ended by the Jos Coeur. Among the highlights would be a very strange but wonderful adaptation of nursery rhyme A La Claire Fontaine and the play on words of L'Alarme à l'Oeuil (instead of tears in the eye , it is the alert in your eyes).

Yes, you are all waiting to know what the second side sounds like especially the 18 min title track! Mostly by this track is responsible of their inclusion on this site, and the detour is well worth it if you are investigating Quebecois prog. The long instrumental passages are very imaginative , loose (as is generally their overall style) yet full of small surprises, somehow in between more typical French songs , sizzling rock passages , jazzy arrangements and more classical influences mostly coming from the KBs. This is such a climax, that one forgets the last track or more likely includes it as the epilogue into the 18 min multi-movement suite.

Most of these guys will play in other bands such as Harmonium, Toubabou and some in the collective Ville Emmard Blues Band (better known as VEBB) that were anything but blues. Some tracks were foreseen for their third album but only saw the light of the day on bassist Laferrièrre's solo album, La Cuisine Rouge. This album can be seen as one of the most representative of the Quebec prog scene, although it is not among the best coming out of La Belle Province.

Contraction - 1972 - Contraction

Contraction 
1972 
Contraction





01. Chant Patriotique (3:30)
02. Le Chat Bruinne (5:10)
03. Délire (474 Rang de la petite Côte d'en Bas) (3:54)
04. Trois ou Quatre (5:21)
05. Ste-Mélanie Blues (3:55)
06. 42 Nord (1:48)
07. Pixieland (3:17)
08. Spleen (2:45)
09. Fin du Commencement (1:50)


- Christiane Robichaud / vocals & arrangements
- Yves Laferrière / bass
- Robert Lachapelle / piano & electric piano
- Robert Stanley / guitar
- Christian St-Roch / drums (2-3, 5)
- Rawn Bankley / acoustic guitar (1, 9)
- Michel Robidoux / acoustic guitar (2), guitars (3)
- Marcel P. Huot / drums (7, 9)
- Denis Farmer / drums (1, 4)
- Carlyle Miller / flute, arrangements (vocals & flute) (8), electric saxophone (4)
- J.J. / flute (5)
- Michel Séguin / congas (4)
- Frank Dervieux / organ (7)

One of the most important Progressive rock albums coming from La Belle Province was Dimension M (released in 71) from frontman FRANK DERVIEUX, and his back-up band happened to be the group that would call themselves CONTRACTION after Dervieux's sickness that would eventually take his life at a tragically low age. Not only was he all too young, but Dimension M is one of the defining albums for the coming prog tsunami that would flood Quebec throughout most of the 70's and it helped the Quebecois cultural revolution. Most musicologists would agree that after ROBERT CHARLEBOIS daring to sing with his Joual accent from the late 60's onwards, the few early rock groups around in the early 70's also dared singing in French (OCTOBRE, OFFENBACH, DYONISOS, LES CHAMPIGNONS) whereas many others still sung in English (MAHOGANY RUSH, MORSE CODE TRANSMISSION etc), and Frank's Dimension M was one of the most influential in that respect (although it has yet to be reissued on the Cd format) and gave a boost to many other groups.

Sooo, DERVIEUX's backing band decided to remain together and recorded their self-titled debut album, which was released in early 72 in both French and English version (there was still that temptation) with that famous arresting artwork depicting a baby curled up in an ear, artwork which hinted at the upcoming birth of a prog boom. The group evolved around songwriting bassist Laferriere and keyboardist Lachapelle, but had a very charming stage presence due to Christiane Robichaud's sensual and suave vocals. Robichaud's vocals would leave a definitive influence on Quebec's female vocals in the rock realm. This debut album consolidated the group in its endeavours. During 73, the group got mixed in with the VILLE EMARD BLUES BAND, a jazz-rock adventure that would last less than two years, but reunited almost everyone in the Quebec scene.

But this was nothing yet, compared to the group's following album released in early 74 called La Bourse Ou La Vie, which would create a real frenzy, causing all sorts of groups to start up that year, including HARMONIUM, MANEIGE, MORSE CODE (switching to French singing and dropping the "transmission"), TOUBABOU, OPUS 5, SLOCHE to all release their debut albums with the next 18 months. La Bourse Ou La Vie is an excellent indefinable mix of influences where a slight jazzy prog-rock seems to be the prime ingredient, but hardly the only one. The album's name is a reaction to the heavy pressures of their record label to ask them to be more commercial, but they refused, using that hold-up catch phrase. Indeed, if the tracks on the A side were still very much like their debut album, almost all of the flipside is taken by the 18-minutes title track with a slight Canterbury twist and some Crimson touches.

The group broke up after the legendary St Jean Festival on the Mont Royal with Harmonium, BEAU DOMMAGE, LES SEGUINS, Octobre and more. (This particular event was so successful that it involuntarily was leading Quebec youth into independent Quebec frame of mind, along with the arrival of the Parti Québecois to power and the separatism issue that would spoil intra-Canada relations between Quebec and the rest of the country) Two years later, bassist Laferrière released a solo album (included in Contraction's page), which still had some of Contraction's paw written all over it.

This first album from Contraction is a direct evolution from one of the three angular vinyl albums of Quebec progressive music. Coming a year after the release of cornerstone album Dimension M from Frank Dervieux and a few months before his untimely death, most of the musicians had played on that album, and Dervieux himself, very sick, participated to this album. It is also the second of three prog albums to use the human ear as artwork after Floyd's Meddle and before MMEB's Roaring Silence. While this album is certainly full of delightful music, it is a bit of a side-track for progheads, their place on the Archives mostly secured by the follow-up album. You will recognize however that typical Quebec sound especially with the Christiane Robichaud vocals that will remind you of Monique Fauteux in Harmonium's Heptade albums a few years later. Drummer Denis Farmer is also to be found in Harmonium, later on. Stanley's guitar lines are somewhat jazzy but also a bit Duane Allman inspired and Laferriere's bass works are certainly the strong points, the whole thing underlined by the Lachapelle Fender Rhodes piano. Among the guest musicians are Dervieux and Seguin on congas.

As I said above , the music is not overwhelmingly progressive but still holds many excellent moments to please even the most demanding proghead , but while there are some sizzling guitar solos and some very intimate ambiances, the whole band never seems to manage to shift to the next gear and go on to bigger things. This will be for the next album.


Connivence - 1979 - Connivence II

Connivence 
1979
Connivence II





01. Québec au printemps
02. Le Mât
03. Chanson d'Amour pour France
04. DAC
05. Les Cocottes de Kazou
06. Saskatoon
07. S'il y a d'l'amour
08. 1959
09. Une goutte de sang
10. Le Bateau
11. Accouche qu'on baptise

- Paul Pugnaire / guitars, composition, vocals
- Marc Sommer / bass, vocals
- Jean-Luc Gotteland / keyboards, vocals
- Thierry Durbano / drums, percussions
- Lionel Dugas / vocals, guitars


 If Connivence's first album was a rather confusing compilation of tracks from different artistes into a collective, the second album released the next year is much more of real album from a real artiste. Behind the astounding and superb watermill artwork of the cover, we're still dealing with pastoral folk, even if the folk gets naval as well with a couple of tracks. Neither Soucy or Oasis cared to participate to this effort, leaving Steve Burman and the duo Nous Autres and newcomer Guy LaFrance to fill the album, which gains in cohesiveness compared to its predecessor.

Nous Autres contributes to pure or trad folk songs like Quebec Au Printemps (a cheesy ode to Quebec that was obviously aimed at airplay) and Le Bateau or Une Goutte De Sang. But most of the tracks are hovering between folk rock and folk jazz, induced by Syncope's presence in backing Burman and LaFrance (see 1959 and Dac). Sometimes you'll hear chunks of early Harmonium influences, but then again the head-twisting Saskatoon is close to a jig in its last developments.

In the typical Quebec fashion, delicious female vocals are present, here France Charron on four tracks) including the delicious Le Mat, set to cello and strings, and the superb flute-laden Chanson D'Amour pour France is a Burman & Syncope tune with some jazz arrangements, but Dac and Cocottes De Kazou are much in the same mould. Nous Autres is back with the superb S'Il Y A De L'Amour that can only send shivers down your back. And wait until you get to the closing stunner Accouche Qu'On Baptise to get the same shivers.

Since these albums have never received a Cd reissue (legit or boot), there is only one hope for most of progheads to one day hear Connivence's first two collaborations, and that hope's name is ProgQuebec, but Connivence's vinyls are still quite cheap , the only trick is to ship them through the expensive Canada Post, but no doubt you'll not regret doing so. Certainly worth a listen (and a few more), Connivence is the perfect music to get in close to your mate and start making some connivance;

Connivence - 1977 - Connivence

Connivence
1977
Connivence




01. La Gigue
02. Dans Ta Fenêtre
03. Le Boyau En Liberté
04. La Dernière Grande Valse
05. Le Pit De Sable De Lucerne
06. La Villageoise En Ville
07. Happy Endings
08. Blanc-Blême
09. L'eau De La Vie
10. Lapin

- Paul Pugnaire / guitars, composition, vocals
- Marc Sommer / bass, vocals
- Jean-Luc Gotteland / keyboards, vocals
- Thierry Durbano / drums, percussions
- Lionel Dugas / vocals, guitars

Never really a full group of musicians per se, Connivence was more of a collective name for artistes, solo or groups from the same region: Hull, just across Ottawa opposite the river and into Quebec land. These artistes actually found easier to share recording costs and release in 77 on the same record their personal tracks, but also playing on each other's works. From single artists Legault, Soucy to the groups Oasis (jazz-rock) and Nous Autres (sometimes close to Anthony Philips), this Connivence name housed dramatically different styles but most of them worthy of a listen to progheads. The "group" will produce three albums (until 84) with different line-ups and the second one will be heavily induced by Syncope (another prog group). The third one is more electrified or electronified and jazzed-up.

Sadly none of the three albums have been released under the Cd format and their vinyl records are not that easy to find, either.

 First record of a group that is more of an amalgam of artistes linking under the Connivence name in order to make an album, this relative uncommon procedure delivered three albums that are worthy of the proghead's interest, especially so if he is into Folk Prog. Basically a blend of folk-duo Nous Autres and jazz rock group Oasis, it also includes some solo English-speaking songwriters (but French-singing) who are playing with those two groups. Sounds confusing? Well, Kinda! But these guys were all acquaintances from the Ottawa river valley, just across the federal capital of Ottawa.

After reading the first paragraph, you'd have to believe that this album would be very eclectic, uneven and with a wide spectrum, but actually, the album is fairly focused and most of the tracks are folk, folk rock or folk-derived prog. So eclectic this album is but for its own good: they folk-jazz-rock is sometimes head-twirling, at times virtuosic and all the time very charming.

The opening progressive instrumental jig (aptly called Gigue) is calling your ears to attention right away, with the hippy-folk idealist Dans Ta Fenêtre being a stark contrast in sobriety. With Boyau De La Liberté reminding you of the opener (minus the open jig) and its violin reminiscent of Kansas' Robby Steinhard, the album is made to please even the most demanding proghead. Even if Grande Valse is fairly cheesy, Sable De Lucerne is modern classic-influenced and the tracks sounds like a RIO marriage between Univers Zero and early Maneige. And with the superb Villageoise track closing off the first side of this Ottawa voyage, you realize that once again, Quebec still has many hidden gems still waiting for Cd releases.

But with the second side to go, opening strangely with Happy Endings (an instrumental symphonic-jazzy jig) which is like a cross between Maneige and Aquarelle, again the second track is leading us in a very sober folk couple of tracks written by folk duo Nous Autres, one of which can be likened to Anthony Phillips' works on his "private parts and pieces" series. The album closes on a head-twisting pastoral symphonic Lapin, which fittingly ends this great album.


Beau Dommage - 1978 - Passagers

Beau Dommage 
1978 
Passagers





01. Rouler la nuit (3:50)
02. Le vent du fleuve (4:30)
03. Histoire de Jean (3:05)
04. Le coeur endormi (4:52)
05. Le passager de l'heure de pointe (4:11)
06. Hockey (3:33)
07. Le vent d'la ville (4:18)
08. Lettre d'amour (3:07)
09. Le voyageur (2:30)

Michel Rivard / vocals, guitar
Marie-Michèle Desrosiers / vocals, keyboards
Pierre Bertrand / bass, guitar, vocals
Robert Léger / keyboards, flute
Michel Hinton / keyboards
Réal Desrosiers / drums

Fourth album from the Quebec (City) quintet, recorded in Sept 77 and released before the end of the year, just before the disco wave was rearing its ugly head and was to swipe the whole of La Belle Province's prog movement, the only group escaping this fate being Mahogany Rush, April Wine (Montreal was their home base) and Offenbach and Beau Dommage on the French-sung rock. Nothing new under the BD sun, except maybe the new faces behind the three front(wo)men; the prog leanings of La Noce being long gone history, no tracks going past the 5 minutes barrier.

Musically-speaking, the group is back at its usual country/folk rock with jazzy clouds here and there, but overall, while rather enjoyable easy-listening semi-AOR (but sung in French by at least two lead singers), this album hasn't aged much because of its universality and its slight French slice of Americana. But this album like its successors is of no interest to progheads, unless he's into the Quebecois rock. Beau Dommage woyuld record until the early 80's before disbanding but reforming in 84 and again a few lore times since, on special occasions and releasing either live, studio or compilations on each reformation, but nothing for progheads.


Beau Dommage - 1977 - Un autre jour arrive en ville

Beau Dommage
1977 
Un autre jour arrive en ville




01. Tout va bien (5:35)
02. Contre lui (3:07)
03. Cinéma (3:43)
04. Ça fait longtemps (4:22)
05. Le coeur sur la corde raide (3:24)
06. Seize ans en soixante-seize (4:49)
07. Marie-Chantale (4:39)
08. Berceuse pour moi toute seule (3:23)
09. C'est samedi soir (4:57)
10. Un autre jour arrive en ville (4:41)


Michel Rivard / vocals, guitar
Marie-Michèle Desrosiers / vocals, keyboards
Robert Léger / keyboards, flute
Michel Hinton / keyboards
Pierre Bertrand / bass, guitar, vocals
Réal Desrosiers / drums


Beau Dommage - 1975 - Où est passée la noce

Beau Dommage 
1975 
Où est passée la noce





01. Le blues d'la Métropole (4:13)
02. Assis dans' cuisine (2:03)
03. Amène pas ta gang (3:13)
04. Motel 'Mon Repos' (3:35)
05. J'ai oublié le jour (3:05)
06. Bon débarras (2:55)
07. Heureusement qu'il y a la nuit (5:45)
08. Incident à Bois-des-Filion (20:30)

Michel Rivard / vocals, guitar
Marie-Michèle Desrosiers / vocals, keyboards
Pierre Bertrand / bass, guitar, vocals
Robert Léger / keyboards, flute
Michel Hinton / keyboards
Réal Desrosiers / drums


Aah, that tongue-in-cheek humor starting with the name of the band, and all the fantastic lyrics about love, death, friendship, heartbreaks, being bored in your every day life and of course: 'doing it'. Beau Dommage is fueling on the greats of the era (Yes, Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull) for that titanesque Incident a Bois-des-Fillion that closes magnificiently a way above average album. Rivard is launching Yes riffs like it's nothing, proving that the band can not only do pop, but also coherent prog like it's Monday morning. The vocals are (as always) a miracle in it's own right, 3 voices (2 guys 1 girl) blending perfectly, only topped by the Beatles themselves.

If you can get the lyrics translated, they are hilarious in some parts, but always true to real life. They always had that knack of saying things tactfully without repeating the same old clichés in so many love songs. They go directly to your heart, coating it with a fuzzy feeling of being home and consoled by your loved ones.

Many other highlights are in shorter length: Amène pas ta gang could easily pass for a poppish Gentle Giant and Bon Débarras is a very potent instrumental in the good ol' 70's Italian tradition. This band is considered intouchable in Quebec, a monument of lyrical beauty and artistic strenght, by kids who never knew they were that good!

Giants without being pretentious, poets without getting snobby. Intouchable.


Beau Dommage - 1974 - Beau Dommage

Beau Dommage 
1974
Beau Dommage




01. Tous les palmiers (3:20)
02. À toutes les fois (4:17)
03. Chinatown (3:05)
04. La Complainte du phoque en Alaska (5:15)
05. Le picbois ( 3:05)
06. Harmonie du soir à Châteauguay (3:06)
07. Le Géant Beaupré (4:02)
08. Ginette (2:35)
09. Un ange gardien (2:56)
10. 23 décembre (2:14)
11. Montréal (4:44)

Michel Rivard / vocals, guitar
Marie-Michèle Desrosiers / vocals, keyboards
Pierre Bertrand / guitar, bass, vocals
Robert Léger / keyboards, flute
Réal Desrosiers / drums


Beau Dommage. Leading Quebec rock band of the mid-1970s, its name an old Quebec expression meaning 'most certainly' or 'why not'. As early as 1969, Michel Rivard, Pierre Bertrand, and Michel Hinton had formed an amateur group called La famille Casgrain. Following their participation in various productions 1970-3 at the UQAM, Rivard (voice, guitar), Robert Léger (keyboards, flute), and the lyricist Pierre Huet formed Beau Dommage. They were joined by Bertrand (bass guitar), Marie-Michèle Desrosiers (voice, keyboards), and in March 1974, Réal Desrosiers (drums). Though Léger continued to compose for the group he was replaced as a performer by Hinton in 1976.

Beau Dommage made its debut in October 1973 at Luducu (UQAM) and rose quickly to the front rank of Quebec pop groups. Sales in Quebec of the LPs Beau Dommage (1974, Cap ST-70-034) and Où est passée la noce (1975, Cap SKAC-70-037) exceeded those of all other Canadian artists of the mid-1970s. The latter LP (which included the long vocal-instrumental work 'Un Incident à Bois-des-Filion') won the'Jeune Chanson 1976' prize (presented by the secretary of state and culture of France) at the MIDEM trade convention in Cannes. Other Beau Dommage LPs were Un autre jour arrive en ville... (1976, Cap ST-70-048), Passagers (1977, Cap ST-70-055) and the compilation Les Grands Succès de Beau Dommage (Cap SKAO-70-058) released in 1978. It made annual tours of Europe (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland) 1975-8 and performed in the major venues in Quebec and in several cities elsewhere in Canada. With Contraction, Harmonium, and Octobre, Beau Dommage headlined the 1976 St-Jean-Baptiste celebrations (on Mount Royal, Montreal), which attracted some 400,000 people. The group disbanded in 1977, its members undertaking solo careers, but it returned to the stage for mammoth farewell concerts in Quebec City and at the Montreal Forum in October 1984. Beau Dommage's most popular songs include 'La Complainte du phoque en Alaska' which became a classic (released on LP and as a 45, and also recorded by Félix Leclerc), 'Le Blues d'la métropole,' and 'Amène pas ta gang'. The lyrics and music to some of its songs have been published by the Éditions Bonté divine in the folios Beau Dommage Volume I (1976) and Beau Dommage Volume II (1977).

According to Georges-Hébert Germain (La Presse, 20 Sep 1975) each of Beau Dommage's songs 'recreates... a kind of drama. Dramas of loneliness, of boredom, of love and of disillusion'. Bruno Roy, in his Panorama de la chanson au Québec (Montreal 1977), adds: 'There is in its songs a poetic and musical study of adolescence in Montreal's east end... '

Aquarelle - 1978 - Sous Un Arbre

Aquarelle
1978
Sous Un Arbre




01. Aquarelle
02. Aquarelle pt2
03. Aquarelle pt3
04. Bridge
05. Esperanto
06. Francoise
07. Magic Of Sounds
08. Under A Tree
09. Volupté

- Anne-Marie Courtemanche / vocals
- Pierre Lescaut / keyboards
- Stéphane Morency / guitar
- Pierre Bournaki / violin
- Jean-Philippe Gélinas / saxophone, flute
- Michel De Lisle / bass
- André Leclerc / drums

 In the second part of the 70's, Quebec was going wild in terms of progressive rock undergoing a sort of cultural revolution/emancipation (Quebec was busy considering flying on its own) and a flurry of bands were seeing the light of day, a good deal of those not really caring about being commercial. Aquarelle is Pierre Lescaut's project; he was the main composer, but everyone in the group had interesting and challenging role in the group, not least Bournaki's violin work.

If you are like me, and have heard a few hundred Jazz-rock/fusion album, chances are that Aquarelle will not sound incredibly inventive or particularly original. What we have here is a very honest and professional album, which fits the mould of what was being released at the time. Sounding close to Ponty's albums of that same era, or many other groups, Aquarelle did not really manage to make a real dent in the market mostly because of the competitive market and the sheer amount of similar music being released, some group were bound to remain in obscurity. Sadly so, because Aquarelle were a very endearing unit that produced a very pleasant JR/F on their two albums, but it was not flawless. One of the more puzzling characteristics about their music is Courtemanche's wordless high-strung vocals (which are often under-mixed) that add some unexpected flavour to the music, but they are rather unusual and can be irritating. Highlights of this album include the (unofficial) title track with the heavy piano work, and the three part eponymous track Aquarelle, where the group does not miss to introduce their wide scoped musical abilities.

While they would go on to record one other (better) album with another vocalist, (this next one in the frame of Montreux's Jazz Festival), Aquarelle's works can only be seen as complementary to the scene of that year. If you are not familiar with their music, I can direct you towards their second album (this one being less essential), but it is not like you would be missing that much if you were not to discover them >> their records have not been re-issued on CD, yet, but it should not be difficult finding the vinyls at reasonable prices.