Friday, October 24, 2014

Neil Chotem - 1979 - Live au el Casino

Neil Chotem 
1979 
Live au el Casino





01. Prélude en mi mineur
02. Vocalise
03. Légende du Mont-Rouge
04. Saskatoon
05. Blues d'hiver
06. Toccate
07. Vers l'infini

Neil Chotem: piano, synthesizer
Serge Fiori: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals
Monique Fauteux: synthesizer, fender rhodes, mini moog, vocals
Libert Subirana: flute, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, vocals
Louis Valois: producer, electric bass, fretless bass, vocals
Denis Farmer: drums, percussion
Marie-Claire Séguin: vocals

Recorded live at the El Casino, Montreal, May 26 & 27 1979, except track 6 recorded at Studio Tempo, Montreal, October 1979.

Performed with most of the lineup from Harmonium's L'Heptade album.

Neil Chotem is best known by rock fans for his work arranging Harmonium's magnum opus « L'Heptade » in 1976. As a classically trained pianist a generation older than most rock musicians of the 1970's, his prolific career as a composer, arranger, conductor and teacher had already included numerous classical and jazz works by then. After Harmonium disbanded, Chotem released a solo album called « Vers L'Infini » in 1978, featuring himself on piano at home. In 1979, Chotem recorded a live album entitled « Live au El Casino », accompanied by most of the former members of Harmonium . Aside from a few classical piano solos, most of the other tracks performed were co-written by Serge Fiori. The result is a beautiful mellow symphonic gem, very much in the vein of where Harmonium left off prior to Fiori calling it quits. The highlight is the 12 minute live version of the title track from Chotem's previous LP. With Fiori, co-singer Monique Fauteux and guest vocalist Marie Claire Seguin still at the top of their game, Louis Valois manning a fretless bass, Libert Subirana on horns, and Denis Farmer on drums, this record helps quench Harmonium fans' unfulfilled thirst, but will leave them hungry for even more.

Gentle, intimate and very cohesive. This piece of art deserves more attention. A top secret!

Morse Code - 1995 - ... D'un Autre Monde

Morse Code 
1995
... D'un Autre Monde





01. On Nait d'Un Autre Monde (5:14)
02. Casino (4:59)
03. L' Ombre Dans Ton Miroir (Le Semeur de... (6:18)
04. Le Soldat (4:35)
05. La Terre Cesse Pas d'Tourner (4:12)
06. Le Sourire (3:30)
07. Mémoire du Sang (Les Enfants de la France) (4:59)
08. Le Fils du Grand Dragon (3:59)
09. Piano (5:04)
10. Au Pays des Géants (7:11)


- Christian Simard /vocals, keyboards
- Michel Vallée / bass
- Daniel Lemay / guitars
- Raymond Roy / drums & percussion
- Marc Laperle / keyboards

 I am a huge fan of the 70's Canadian progressive rock band MORSE CODE and I must tell you that I had reservations and a certain discomfort putting "D'un Autre Monde" into my CD player. Fearing the worst I was completely shocked.this album is very very good. I had read so many poor review of MORSE CODE's 80's material... Encouraged by the popularity of Quebec's underground progressive rock scene, MORSE CODE reformed with original members Christian Simard (vocals, keyboards), Michel Vallée (bass), and Daniel Lemay (guitars) re-formed the group, replacing drummer Raymond Roy with Simard's son and adding a second keyboardist, Marc Laperle. The new MORSE CODE capture the beauty of their 70's work with a certain overlay of modern sounds. The songs on this album are very well constructed and I find it remarkable that Simard can still write killer prog/pop tunes. His voice has not deteriorated one iota and on this album they hit some lovely harmonies and melodies. "D'un Autre Monde" reminds me of Frances later sounding ANGE with hints of mid period GENESIS tossed in. A delicate yet highly gripping album with a mixture of old and new sounds and musical themes. I have a distinct impression this is a concept album as well with opening and closing sounding cyclical. Highly entertaining album and the way all re-united prog bands should sound.


Morse Code - 1983 - Code Breaker

Morse Code
1983 
Code Breaker




01. Still On My Mind (4:14)
02. Help The Man (6:06)
03. Finders Keepers (3:34)
04. My Turn (3:56)
05. Modern Problems (3:57)
06. Tough Times (4:13)
07. Im Not That Kind (4:14)
08. Never Grow Old (4:00)
09. Hall Of Mirrors (6:21)

- Daniel May / guitars, flute, vocals
- Mike Vallee / bass and vocals
- Marc Leach / keyboards
- Yves Boisvert / drums and percussion

 If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all... or in this case, not much. The unsettled career of this band was a virtual mirror to the shifts that occurred in music throughout the 70s and 80s, and they changed with the tide like a sand crab. This record, the very definition of corporate rock, was really the last straw creatively and revealed the intention of a group of skilled players to sell some records. As a result, it is a feeble if well-executed selection of commercial music with a dash of prog rock for flavor. The one decent cut, 'Hall of Mirrors', is a good pop tune and had FM blockbuster written all over it but like some evil plot engineered by record executives with plenty of money but a tin ear, Morse Code's 'Codebreaker' can best be described as what would happen if Eddie Jobson produced a collaboration between Survivor and Loverboy.


Morse Code - 1977 - Je Suis Le Temps

Morse Code
1977
Je Suis Le Temps





01. C'est déjà du passé
02. La réalité
03. Berceuses
04. Chevaliers d'un règne
05. Picadilly Circus
06. Sommeil
07. Je suis le Temps
08. Magie de musique

- Christian Simard / keyboards and vocals
- Michel Vallée / bass and vocals
- Daniel Lemay / guitars, flute and vocals
- Raymond Roy / rums and percussion

For this album and following Procreation's great hopes and inspiring sales, their record company Capitol allowed to send Morse Code to travel to Britain to record it and one can hear the difference, not only in the production, but in the songwriting. While the album title suggests another theme throughout the album, it is much harder to pick up at first glance. With a rainy windshield for artwork (and an old ruins on the back cover), MC was really trying to get their big break, but went soft at the moment they should have really set their differences up front, instead of trying to fit into a mould.

The singing is still in French but not quite as daringly theatrical, and the music veers of to Fruup, BJH, ATTOT Genesis. Another change is that there are no major lenghty compositions like the full-blown Procreation or La Marche Des Hommes. The lengthiest (and worthiest) track is the title-track clocks in around 7:30 but it does have a smaller number (an intro of sorts) linked to it. The rest of the songs glide on smoothly and are of the usual MC calibre/standard.

Unfortunately, one cannot help to think that the opening track was premonitory as this was to be their last album, as Capitol was to find that their expectation (sales wise) might be too ambitious and the Disco Wave was to strike Quebec like a tsunami.



Morse Code - 1976 - Procreation

Morse Code
1976 
Procreation





01. Précréation (5:07)
02. Qu'est-Ce T'Es V'nu Faire Ici (4:40)
03. Nuage (2:16)
04. L' Eau Tonne (3:59)
05. Des Hauts et des Ha! ... (4:27)
06. De Tous Les Pays du Monde (3:49)
07. Procréation I (6:41)
08. Procréation II (8:49)
09. Procréation III (10:28)

- Christian Simard / keyboards and vocals
- Michel Vallée / bass and vocals
- Daniel Lemay / guitars, flute and vocals
- Raymond Roy / drums and percussion


MC's second album of their second incarnation (MCT being the first) is the band's apex in their career. Following their Marche Des Hommes album's breakthrough, the group began touring all over Quebec and eastern Canada with harmonium, Offenbach and Octobre. Gradually they started introducing new tracks to their repertoire, most of which wouyld come to fruition on this album, including the 26-mins Procreation and its intro. They released a non-album single which find its way on here in terms of bonus tracks, on this first real Cd re-issue by the great team ProgQuebec. So the album got released at the end of the 76 summer and gets a fully respected re-issue with great bonus tracks, great live photos (one can see they had a few years on their colleagues, too) and re-printed lyrics.

Right off the opening Procreation prelude/intro, one can hear they the group has climbed up one more flight of stairs to prog heaven as the instrumental lead-off, even if it hints a bit at Genesis, is a fantastic piece of keyboard-led prog, from organs, mellotrons and piano to flutes and others. While many groups from La Belle Province chose the joual alternative, MC tried to be as neutral as possible, while remaining resolutely Quebecois, and the great "Qu'Est-Ce Que T'es Venu Faire Ici?" is the perfect example of this and a wink to their earlier album's other track. Again a mega-Genesis feel, but nothing shocking, either. Nuages is a very much a classical organ intro, before the group takes things a step higher, but remaining a full speed organ thing over great back up. While the following play on word Eau Tonne (Autumn) is another semi-Quebecois/French dilemma but over a Fender Rhodes. A much-superior "Hauts Et Ha!" duplicates the fun play on words, but the album takes a risk at plunging into music hall-type as Charles Trenêt or Maurice Chevalier, if it wasn't for the great instruments playing behind it. More of the Same for Pays Du Monde, with a good dose of cheesiness to top it all off.

And then comes the flipside with its sidelong self-tiled epic, which from the first notes sends you out in Nirvana-land, where outsider Robitaille's lyrics are grabbing you by the throat. The epic is of great quality and mixes subtlety with adventures, and the lengthy slow 2/3rd of time passage is a pure joy even if it is a bit déjà-vu.

As for the two bonus tracks, they were rumored to aim at the disco market (as they had previously done with Cocktail), but believe me, you'd have a hard time guessing this was supposed to win over the dance floors, even if they are funked-up. Both compositions are instrumentals, up-tempoed and up-lifting

The group will then start a monster 65 dates eastern Canada (this writer remembers having to pass up on concert tickets for lacks of means, having invested in a hi-fi chain) throughout four provinces, with extended lightshow, explosives and full theatrics, soon pushing them to refuse opening acts or headliners, due to their show's complexity. Having avoided Montreal and Quebec City (hoping to finish triumphantly there), the group ended up exhausted and wearied by their shot at bigger times.


Morse Code - 1975 - La Marche Des Hommes

Morse Code 
1975 
La Marche Des Hommes




01. La Marche des Hommes (11:14)
02. Le Pays d'Or (3:16)
03. La Cérémonie de Minuit (5:00)
04. Cocktail (3:25)
05. Une Goutte de Pluie (3:23)
06. Qu'est-Ce Que T'As Compris? (5:29)
07. Problème (2:05)

- Christian Simard / keyboards and vocals
- Michel Vallée / bass and vocals
- Daniel Lemay / guitars, flute and vocals
- Raymond Roy / drums and percussion

This group became one of the first full-out rock outfit in La Belle Province, under the name Morse Code Transmission, developing a naïve English-sung psychedelic rock over their first two albums. While none of those two albums will ever graces the top 20, of Psych rock lists, they were indeed charming but flawed, both are indeed worth a listen, but maybe not to spend the small fortunes the vinyls are fetching, nowadays, none of these having received a CD re-issue, yet! Hint, hint, Sean & Stephen!!!!

As Morse Code Transmission disintegrated, like the psychedelic caterpillar metamorphosing into the progressive butterfly, the group reformed and came into full maturity with this highly regarded album. As the Quebec scene was now reaching its golden hour, so did MC, and their brand of symphonic rock sung in French (as was the case with Harmonium, and later Pollen, Opus-5 and a few more) became in instant hit with the local population. But this was also very limited to their province, as English Canada will stay oblivious to MC.

Down to a quartet (the standard prog quartet) with Keyboardist Christian Simard as chief composer of the music but getting the help of outsider Chantal Dusseault for all of the lyrics, they developed a rather classic symphonic influenced rock in the range of Pollen, Atoll, Ange and a few more. This album, like the following Pro-creation, is a concept one, and is deeply rooted in the progress of mankind. Excellent lyrics and often excellent music, this was part of the classic Quebec albums from the second half of the 70's.

Although Simard is clearly the leader of the group, it is clear that the better tracks are the one written collectively by the group: from the awesome 11-min+ title track, to the hectic Cérémonie De Minuit, to the thoughtful "Qu'est-ce que tu as compris?" and the great lively instrumental Cocktail, the group smokes, blazes, cruises through your mind as a red-hot iron, with their excellent multi-layered vocals and the overall impeccable musicianship. The only weaker tracks being the Simard-only Pays D'Or and the two short tracks Goutte De Pluie and Problème (both sung with a vocal delivery sometimes reminiscent of " Le Grand Jacques" Brel), but hardly anything really bothersome.

The ProgQuebec re-issued (and remastered) version comes with two bonus tracks, none of which are obligatory, on the contrary. The disco remix of the instrumental Cocktail and the single version Compris, being both forgetful and best forgotten.

The first of a run of three classic albums, La Marche Des Hommes is of course more hinted at French speakers, but the singing is relatively accent-less and the lyrics easily understandable, therefore this is well recommended to others progheads also.


Morse Code - 1972 - Morse Code Transmission - II

Morse Code
1972
Morse Code Transmission - II





101. Funk alley (8:11)
102. Soul odyssey (3:36)
103. Graveyard of man (4:54)
104. Stick the fork in (8:16)

201. Liberty, freedom, man (9:28)
202. Cold society (4:39)
203. New woman kind (4:31)
204. Sky ride (4:29)
205. Satan sound (3:22)

- Raymond Roy / drums, percussions
- Michel Vallée / bass, vocals
- Berny Tapin / lead guitar, acoustic guitar
- Christian Simard / piano, organ, tonga, lead vocals

 MCT's second album was a double album even if its duration was about the same a Genesis or Tangerine Dream single album. Often carelessly brushed aside by progheads as psychedelia, this second album is certainly very prog in most parts, but it's relatively uneven as there are almost embarrassing 60's-sounding amateur psych rock as well. The usual prog quartet dishes out some excellent organ-driven hard psych prog-rock.

With the first disc totalling 25 minutes, there are only two tracks per side, both well vbelow the quarter hour duration. But the 8-mins+ Funky Alley is an excellent uplifting track filled with communicative energy and Simard's English vocals sound a bit like Irish Coffee's singer. The track easily glides on its own molten lava cushion and there is plenty of time for guitar and organ solos and slight cosmic noises. The short Soul Odyssey is an upbeat track with an excellent middle section, but it remains pop, but if all pop was like that.. On the flipside Graveyard Of Man is another exciting prog tune with constant time sigs changes and a catchy hook. A bass burp, another and Stick The Fork In and its 8-mins+ will rock your socks off, even if the tempo is a bit too straightforward. The fadeout is unbelievably wrong and long, with the organ dying in death throes

The second disc is barely longer even though it starts on the album longest Liberty, freedom Man with an interesting middle section, but recorded too low, but otherwise, exciting stuff. However from the remainder of the album, there isn't much to be happy: beit Cold Society or the embarrassing New Kind Woman, both are 60's pop. And while Sky Ride is a neat Art Rock tune with naïve but enthralling enthusiasm, Satan's Song was actually extracted from the album as a single, but wasn't that good.

Forget all pre-conceived ideas you've heard about the group's first phase, these guys play a fairly exciting organ-driven hard rock that is not too far removed from Atomic Rooster (not as heavy) or Frumpy. Different, the MCT albums? Certainly! But certainly not inferior either. At least their second album was.


Morse Code - 1971 - Morse Code Transmission

Morse Code
1971 
Morse Code Transmission




01. Souvenirs of our days (2:24)
02. It's never ever easy to do (3:50)
03. Time (1:31)
04. Oh lord (2:55)
05. Hunting & laughing (2:03)
06. The friend (1:07)
07. Story-book life (2:58)
08. Fire sign (2:03)
09. Freedom train (3:34)
10. Today I'm alive (2:23)
11. One to one (2:50)
12. Two friends (1:45)

- Christian Simard / lead vocals and keyboards
- Michel Vallée / bass guitar
- Jocelyn Julien / electric guitars
- Raymond Roy / drums
- Peter Schenkman / solo cello
- Al Cherney / Cajun fiddle

As with much of Quebec's early rock wave, Morse Code Transmission sang in English, despite many of the other local group finally daring French. Of course MCT would evolve into MC, by losing the Transmission part of their name, but it will get its best moments by switching to French singing with their classic Marche Des Hommes and Procreation albums. But this group started out as a rather correct psych/prog group back in 70. The classic line-up was already together, but we're a long way from the prog epics of the mid- 70's. Indeed behind the Western movie decorum of the sleeve, we have a dozen tracks, none over the 4-mins mark and only two over 3 minutes, which obviously will not allow much room to explore the themes. Well don't be too disappointed, you can already hear that these guys have a little "je-ne-sais-quoi" that will make them happen later on, but you'll have to be lenient on the English lyrics and singing, even if not catastrophic, but definitely clumsy at times.

Well the album is melting pot of rather interesting psych rock tracks, some boring folkish jigs, some tedious over-arranged ballads, but thankfully the first kind outweighs the other two. Indeed, one can detect in both Souvenirs and It's Never Easy many hints of a future group, particularly on the latter (and album-longest) of the two tracks, where one could think of early cross-town rivals Mahogany Rush. Unfortunately the album is also plagued by over- arranged ballad (not totally devoid of interest, though) like Time and Friend, but usually these are the shorter tracks. I wish there was a way to carve a skip through the next Hunting jig, which stands out like a sore thumb, especially when it melts into over-arranged pop song. Oh Lord features some fine bass and interesting drumming too.

Some of their over-produced tracks can sound like The Moody Blues, as does the string- laden Story Book Life. One of the better tracks is the excellent Fire Sign, with an excellent bass line and inspired Hammond, but it is followed by the equally enthralling Freedom Train, a typical psych track of the times. After the Beatle-esque I'm alive, the album veers almost burlesque with Alive and One To One (interesting horn section interventions, though) and ends is a priggish manner as Two Friends echoes the solo piano The Friend, by adding an excellent cello to justify its title.

Despite the 12 tracks, the album is quite short (thankfully will add some naysayers), a change from their double disc second album (although the individual sides are not really more filled with music) and whatever traces of future excellence at their respective instrument, it will take a giant leap in the second album. But this debut, despite its obvious flaws, is worth a listen



Michel Madore - 1979 - La Chambre Nuptiale

Michel Madore 
1979
La Chambre Nuptiale





01. Le couloir (13:30)
02. Les anges qui passent : dialogue (6:27)
03. La chambre, une vision (18:54)

- Michel Madore / all instruments

As crazy and wild was Madore's debut Komuso album, as much as this one is completely different, to even think that both albums were made by the same man at all. But here Madore is alone (no group) and plays out everything himself. And given this fact, you shall not be surprised that the album is more personal and looks in the Oldfield direction, but with a Jarre-Vangelis twist as well and even a touch of early Krautrock (Zeit-era Tangerine Dream). Just two tracks (two merged into one on the first side) on this disc, each taking up one side; both sides are also dramatically different even if on the whole they are a bit complementary. In this regard, this album is not far from Dionne-Brégent's two albums, as if the first side of this disc was reminiscent of their debut album and the second side of Chambre Nuptiale was dedicated to D-B's second album.

The first side of the album is definitely more electronic spacey-ambient that most Krautrock fans should love. Clearly this side has my favours and it is building up such an excellent feeling that your expectations are enormous for the second side. Alas, the first few minutes are disastrous (as the dodgy artwork and title had warned you of) and we are plunged in a third-rate Mendelssohn Wedding March reworking, which is not only tacky, but corny as well. Thankfully Madore does not expand this idea too long and the music comes back to a more normal Madore-level even if it never reaches the first side's intensity.

If it was not for the second's disastrous intro, this album would be as good as Madore's debut album and as good as Dionne-Brégent's overall works. Hopefully ProgQuebec will one day have the time and money to re-issue Madore's two albums which are yet another fascinating chapter in Quebec's late 70's prog rock that is in danger of being forgotten.


Michel Madore - 1976 - Le Komuso À Cordes

Michel Madore 
1976
Le Komuso À Cordes




01. Mac (7:21)
02. Ballade (3:52)
03. Avant-dernière (7:31)
04. Stanley (3:56)
05. Rush (6:07)
06. Juggernaut (9:21)
07. Bâli (2:00)

- Michel Madore / 12 strings guitar, arp solina, string ensemble, arp pro-solist, synthesizer, cymbalon, singing string, ocarina, carillo, EMS synth, piano
- Ron Proby / acoustic & electric soprano saxophone, ocarina, minimoog, eminent,
percussions
- Mathieu Léger / drums, tubular bells, gongs, percussions
- Philippe Beck / acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes
- Errol Walters / Upright bass, electric bass
- Fernand Durand / electric bass (Juggernaut)

Nowadays and since the early 80's Michel Madore is a sculptor(and a painter), but before that era, he was sculpting sound. Apparently both his records were recorded in 75 but released three years apart, but both are also vastly different even if both stunning pieces of work. Komuso (76) is a band effort full of psych/prog freak out on two lengthy instrumentals with Moogs and Gong-like sax. The second album is an altogether different thing: La Chambre Nuptiale is a stunning ambient mix of electronic/Olfieldian rock with classic music, where Madore played all the instruments himself.

Why Madore stopped the music business is a bit of a mystery but by his second album's release, the Quebec music scene was on another (disco) planet in 79. If his sculptures are anything like his music, they must be quite a sight. But with his ability to carve out "visual", it was only natural that he looked to further ways of expressions.


Madore 's debut album is a gentle affair that is rather difficult to classify, unless broad-brushing between Oldfield's Tubullar Bells and JM Jarre's Oxygène, but at times it sounds like a quiet Gong (the sedated RGI line-ups), the whole thing taking on a special space rock full of phasers and other electronic effects. Behind the superb and intriguing artwork, lays an assembled band that plays tight enough, but only drummer Mathieu Leger (ex-Lasting Weep and future Orchestre Sympathique) stands out with his superb and constant rolls.

Mac has a bit of GonG, more in the ambiance than in the pure zaniness, but sets the tone for the album to come. Closing up the first side is the lengthy Avant Dernière (second last), which claims a certain serenity that propulses into positive thinking, even if some of the sound effects can seem quite dated.

Highlighting the flipside is Rush, again is a bit reminiscent of GonG's isle of everywhere, but breathing its own life. The aptly titled Juggernaut (its almost 10-mins length) is a jewel of space rock that hovers the flying teapots and electric cheeses. Excellent stuff. The short Bali is fitting the album mould with haunting bells and birdsongs aerial synth lines and Madore's haunting 12-string guitar; a fitting close to the album.

Unfortunately, both of Michel Madore's albums have yet to receive a Cd reissue, but something tells me that either XXI or ProgQuebec should indeed one day get interested in them. In the meantime, Madore's two vinyl albums remains accessible (both musically and price-wise), and it shouldn't cost you that much to get acquainted with the man's works, which are much worth the discovery, this one in particular.

Maneige - 2006 - Les Porches Live

Maneige 
2006
Les Porches Live




01. Les aventures de Saxinette et Clarophone (16:20)
02. Chou-Fleur (15:36)
03. La Grosse Torche ( 1:43)
04. Galerie III (6:09)
05. Chromo (5:14)
06. Les Porches de Notre-Dame (17:21)
07. Jean-Jacques (4:54)

- Alain Bergeron / flutes, piccolo, saxophone
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussions
- Denis Lapierre / guitars
- Yves Léonard / bass
- Jérôme Langlois / piano, guitar, clarinet
- Vincent Langlois / percussions, piano

Wow, After having been so long out of CD offerings Maneige is quite Quebec's newer attraction with a second posthumous live album, making it the fourth in their career. After 78's Composite (mostly then-new tracks) and 98's Live 74-75 album on Fonodisc featuring pre-debut album live recordings (ant two never-available-before tracks) and last year's "live à l'éveché" (which took the entire 98 recordings and added more tracks with some yet unreleased-before tracks) OprogQuebec is unleashing this superb release with yet another unreleased track!!

While negotiations are stalled with the Harvest label for Maneige's first two studio albums to receive their first Cd re-issue, most fans can now have their appetite soothed as most of the first two albums are now available in a live form or another. This is now certainly the case for their second Les Porches (as the title suggest) but most of their debut album is now also presented live on ProgQuebec's two releases. While the Saxinette's adventures are excellently played and most of Les Porches' album is faithfully played, My attention is carried to the yet-unavailable 15-min+ Chou-Fleur track which appears to be a combination of improvs on themes (some of which are well-known) and while not always flawless, this track is certainly a highlight of this release almost worth the price of admission. This album is divided into two sets andwhile the first one ends on Galerie III (from their debut), the second set starts on the funky Chromo, but the highlight of this set is the 17-min+ Porches De Notre Dame, where Lappierre's guitar solo is a bit unusual (for Maneige, that is) but hardly unwelcome. With such performances, no surprises they blew Ekseption repeatedly off the stage. Closing on the calmer Jean-Jacques, this posthumous live release is even better than the Eveché tapes and a real must if you do not know their second album.

Maneige - 2005 - Live a l'Eveche 1975

Maneige 
2005
Live a l'Eveche 1975




01. Mambo Chant (6:45)
02. Les Épinettes (3:50)
03. Bullfrog Dance (6:08)
04. 1-2-3-4-5-6 (7:26)
05. La Balloune (29:19)
06. Manège (4:45)
07. Le Rafiot (19:24)

- Alain Bergeron / flutes, piccolo, saxophone, piano
- Jerome Langlois / piano, clarinet, guitar
- Vincent Langlois / percussion, piano
- Denis Lapierre / guitars, synthesizer
- Yves Léonard / bass, double bass
- Paul Picard / percussion, drums
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion, synthesizer

The entire November 22nd, 1975 concert at l'Évêché (Hotel Nelson, Old Montreal) takes up the bulk of this release. Most of the recordings from this concert have remained unreleased ever since CKVL-FM simultaneously broadcast the show on air. Two more pieces appear as bonus tracks from a previous CKVL-FM live broadcast from January 6th, 1974.

The release of this album came to me as a small surprise to me as I am normally aware of the Secret of the Gods in ProgQuebec, but I was not aware that this album would come so soon. Well it is only a half-new release (outside of the fact that these live recording date back in their very early career) as the three tracks that were available on the other posthumous release are actually included here, so we have 4 of the 7 tracks are completely unreleased be it live or in studio. Recorded around the time of the first album (before and after its release), they came to have a solid reputation, consistently blowing off stage the headlining Ekseption group and by the sound of these recordings it easy to see why they did so. More precisely the first 5 tracks from this disc are from a live broadcast for a radio station on Nov 22/75. The next two tracks come from a studio live broadcast on Jan 6/74. The four unreleased tracks that will hold most of my interest are rather short (all under 7 minutes) but I can tell you that it is a real pleasure to discover them as new tracks after all these years - well actually Les Epinettes will find its way on the first album as will Le Rafiot and 1-2-3-4-5-6, but as the first two studio release of Maneige have still not found a CD release, so this album can serve as an excellent introduction to the band since it is the only available Cd right now!. They develop a unique style of an almost instrumental fusion between classical music with rock rhythms and add a touch of jazz to this. Even so early in their career there are hints of the crazy rhythms (sometimes reminding you a bit of GG), but the incredible mastership of their respective instruments is awesome for a band with almost no prior recording experience.

If you do not own the previous live 74/75 recordings released in 98, this album is an absolute must and if you do own it, you have to acquire this one (and support ProgQuebec by the same occasion)



Maneige - 1998 - Live Montreal 1974 - 1975

Maneige - 1998 - Live Montreal 1974 - 1975





01. Le Rafiot (18:11)
02. La Balloune (29:16)
03. 1-2-3-4-5-6 (7:28)


- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flute, saxophone
- Jérome Langlois / keyboards, guitar, clarinet
- Vincent Langlois / keyboards, percussion
- Denis Lapierre / acoustic & electric guitars
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion

This album got released in 98 but the actual live recordings took place before the release of their debut and also between that one and Les Porches. only one track was available elsewhere and that is Le Rafiot on their debut. The real tour de Force is La Balloune (29 min long!!! I guess they had never intended to release this because of its lenght) is simply astounding , stupendous , flabbergasting , horrifyingly beautyful , breathtakingly splendid and is really worth your money alone.With Bergeron and J Langlois flying from one instrument to another , there is not one second on this number that seems unoccupied by virtuosity & creative ( as opposed to sterile ) soloing. No wonder they blew off stage Dutch band Ekseption in that Canadian tour.

As those tapes got uncovered again , they got released into a digipack that reproduces the external cardboard boxes of the studio tapes. Humour , quand tu nous tiens.



Maneige - 1983 - Images

Maneige
1983
Images





01. Nuit Rose (3:24)
02. Phantasmes (3:21)
03. Solitaire (3:23)
04. Clin d'Oeil (2:42)
05. Touarègue (3:23)
06. Hey You! (3:43)
07. Ballade en Hiver (3:22)
08. Transport (3:21)
09. Poséidon (2:48)
10. Quasar (3:31)

- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flute, saxophones
- Michel Lefrançois / acoustic & electric guitars
- Claude Lemay / keyboards, synths, percussion
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion

Some three years after Montreal 6AM, out of the blue came out the last Maneige studio, so unexpected that it went out of view quickly and I never became aware of this album until the end of the 90's. What to say of this record? That the arty/trendy artwork is awful, that it came out on the same local Trans-Canada label and that the line-up is quite different? All true! This is not that much a Maneige album since that even with the return of Schetagne on drums, only remain Leonard on Bass and Bergeron on winds and keys.

Don't get me wrong, the album is still good (especially considering the date of release), and if they try to maintain a high quality of musicianship and good composing, Maneige tried to update themselves and, in the process, lost part of their soul. Nothing really scandalous, I assure you, but the fan can only be deceived. With no tracks above the 3:45 mark, the "songs" are rather concise and up to the point. Actually, the JR/F elements are still quite present but the general feel is moiré in the rock/pop direction than ever before. Ballade En Hiver is probably the highlight of a track selection that fails to surprise, but has no weak tracks either. The two newcomers (the guitarist and main keyman) do a credible job, but fail to dazzle.

This album might get someday a Cd re-issue, but the vinyl should not be hard to find at reasonable price! Given the Canadian post tariffs, avoid ordering from Canada unless you plan to bring it home in your luggage. In itself, this epilogue is not a bad album per se, but in the light of the previous discography, it was high time that Maneige stopped here. Quite a classy "Album De Trop", though! I would say for fans only.



Maneige - 1980 - Montreal 6 AM

Maneige 
1980 
Montreal 6 AM




01. Tangerine (3:16)
02. Oú Ça? (3:50)
03. Tague Baissée (3:37)
04. Phobos (3:42)
05. Popozof (3:58)
06. L' Invitée de la Nuit (3:30)
07. Échec et Mat (4:14)
08. Mi Vu, Mi Connu (3:53)
09. Cerveau Lent (5:16)

- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flute, saxophones
- Pierre Gauthier / drums, percussion
- Vincent Langlois / keyboards, percussion
- Denis Lapierre / acoustic & electric guitars
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Paul Picard / percussion

 A few changes for Maneige - who had a relatively stable line-up as only original leader Jérome Langlois had left prior to this album and was not replaced - most notably a label change from the international Polydor to the local Trans-Canada , and a change of drummer with Gilles Schetagne having left. Using an old, over a rather weird and ugly artwork, this record was recorded at Quebec's most in-demand Morin Heights studio.

One of the most notable change, is that only one track exceeds 5 minutes (the superb finale), the rest of them being inferior to 4 minutes, the general Maneige spirit is respected, alternating between JR/F and more symphonic rock. Among the highlights one the first side of the album are Où-çà? and Popozoff , which surprises us by its energetic symphonic twist. On the second side, opening on the excellent Invitée De La Nuit, but closing on the very worthy slow-developing finale Cerveau Lent is definitely the high point of the album.

Still quite a worthy (almost classic) Maneige album, this album should one day see a Cd re- issue as well as the poorer follow-up Images. But you should nothave much trouble finding the album on vinyl for a reasonable price. However, importing it from Canada through the post ... comes cheaper to get it yourself and bring it back in your luggage. Still definitely worth the investigation, the investment and the regular spin on your turntable.

Maneige - 1979 - Composite

Maneige 
1979 
Composite




01. L'Éveil et l'Approche (4:06)
02. Max the Whale (6:01)
03. Toujours Trop Tard (5:17)
04. Cancan (4:50)
05. Bullfrog Dance (6:28)
06. Étrange Hiver (2:49)
07. Douce Amère (5:59)
08. Un Certain Regard (6:59)

- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flutes, saxophones
- Vincent Langlois / keyboards, percussion
- Denis Lapierre / acoustic & electric guitars
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Paul Picard / percussion
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion

An aptly-titled album being recorded live, but presenting a vast majority of new material, this was the only live recording of Maneige available until the late 90's. Luckily since then, there have been three records of early Maneige released, because from this album, we would not be able to see just how excellent a live band they were. Not that this album is bad, far from it, but it might just be a bit unrepresentative of them. Just as the cover artwork might have you, some of the typical Maneige spirit is not as much present as before.

The album is off to a slow start (the title hints at it) and much of the second track is taken by a drum solo (evolving in a duo with percussionist Picard). Then comes one absolutely superb moment: Toujours Trop Tard which is just as fantastic as on the Libre Service album. While CanCan has nothing to do with the dance, this does not stop it from being excellent and with that superb percussive intro, it is one of the highlight of the album.

The second side starts with an old live track (but was still unreleased when this album came out) Bullfrog Dance. As the more ancient version is now available, the later version (the one on Composite) is definitely calmer, but still retains vitality. Most fans will relish Douce Amère (from NV,NN) while the final track goes relatively smoothly but fails to enthuse for a replay of the album.

Apparently, this record will not be re-issued in CD as the tracks have issued as bonus tracks on the two albums (NV,NN and LS-SS) that ProgQuebec has recently re-issued. Real fans should still want this album, and the vinyl come about still quite cheap. This was however the start of the downfall for the group as it was the last on the Polydor/Polygram major label and they would have to find space in local labels

Maneige - 1978 - Libre Service

Maneige
1978
Libre Service





01. Troizix (2:36)
02. L'Envol des Singes Latins (4:30)
03. Les Péntocles (4:58)
04. La Belle et la Bête (3:29)
05. Bagdad (1:26)
06. Noémi (0:49)
07. Célébration (2:47)
08. La Noce (7:25)
09. Toujours Trop Tard (5:08)
10. Miro Vibro (5:47)


- Alain Bergeron / flute, saxes, keyboards
- Denis LaPierre / guitars
- Yves Leonard / bass
- Vincent Langlois / piano, keyboards, percussion
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion
- Paul Picard / vibes, xylophone, marimba, percussion


 "Libre Service" enhances the prominent fusion orientation that Maneige had already assumed for their previous album. Almost nothing remains from the spectacular academic display that played such an important role in their first two albums. Generally speaking, this album comprises a more pronounced uplifting spirit, and the reasons for that are the incorporation of exotic Latin-jazz colours and a major presence of funky undertones in the repertoire, which ultimately bring an augmented colorfulness to the band's style and compositions. The addition of some Gentle Giant based stuff (mostly in the counterpoints and some tuned percussion passages) helps to build that colorful spirit. The first four tracks set the most playful mood in the album, and they certainly serve as accurate examples of the factors I've just mentioned. Those effective bass lines that run all through 'Trozix' and the tropical-like cadence that forms the main body of 'L'envol des singes latins' are simply irresistible: the listener feels compelled to let himself be contaminated by this good vibe. The brief 'Bagdad' offers some weird dissonances and syncopated tempos in a very pleasant way, as if the potential tension would have been subtly replaced by a strange kind of "harmony": these guys sure know how make the best of a not too complex 1'50'' musical idea. Genius doesn't always come wrapped in gigantic boxes. This notion is corroborated by the next two following pieces - 'Noémi' is a beautiful brief piano solo ornamented by some guitar and some flute, while 'Célébration' states a delicate romantic ambience, with immaculate grace and infinite class. The last three pieces kind of contain a combination of the reflective spirit of tracks 6-8 and the prominent uplifting mood of the precedent ones - all of them state a certain emphasis in the solemn side of things during their first section, before spreading on the fusion stuff until the very end. While the first four tracks incarnate the uplifting side of "Libre Service", the last three encapsulate the whole spirit of it. Though I don't find it as brilliant as "Ni Vent. ni Nouvelle", it still deserves to be regarded as an excellent musical work, full of great, attractive musical ideas that have an irresistible appeal.


Maneige - 1977 - Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle

Maneige 
1977 
Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle





01. Le Gai Marvin (1:41)
02. La Fin De L'Histoire (3:18)
03. Les Folleries (6:07)
04. Les Epinettes (3:32)
05. Manbo Chant (5:22)
06. Douce-Amere (5:53)
07. Le Gros Roux (3:31)
08. Au Clair De La Prune (4:02)
09. 11 Juillet (5:02)
10. Time Square (1:38)

Bonus Tracks

11. Bullfrog Dance (Live) (6:24)
12. Etranger Hiver (Live) (2:49)
13. Douce-Amere (Live) (5:56)
14. Un Certai Regard (Live) (6:58)


- Alain Bergeron / ac.& el.pianos, flute, recorder, piccolo
- Vincent Langlois / Alto saxophone, acoustic electric & slide guitars
- Denis Lapierre / bass, drums, timpani, latin timpani, cenceros, Chinese blocks
- Yves Leonard / taboukas, gong, darboukas, wood drum, woodblock, maracas
- Paul Picard / Flexatone, spoons, Basque drum, chimes, horn, vibraphone
- Gilles Schetagne / glockenspiel, tubular bells

Guests:
- Denise Lupien / violin
- Chantale Rémillard / violin
- Christiane Lampron / cello
- Andre Pelchat / soprano sax for "Mambo chant"
- Jean Préfontaine / viola

Maneige is one of my absolute favourite prog acts from Quebec. Having started their recording career with two heavily chamber-influenced albums, their third one "Ni Vent. ni Nouvelle" finds them exploring their jazzier facet with a refreshed attitude. This is something that really helps their sound to achieve a renewed colorfulness all over the new repertoire, of which a large part is provided an uplifting spirit. The chamber stuff is still there, but notably more subsided in favour of the enhanced jazz factor. The instrumentalists' skill is showed but not showed off: the exquisite performances delivered by all six members (plus some occasional collaborators on string instruments) are cleverly constrained by the well-ordained musical ideas and perfectly integrated arrangements. Hither and thither you may find some influences from Gentle Giant, the jazz side of 71-75 Zappa, Canterbury, Weather Report, but nevertheless, it is true that the final result is not a dilettante mixture, but pure Maneige a voice of their own that shines above any external influences. The brief 'Le Gai Marvin' kicks off the album with a touch of slight picaresque, soon segued into the following track, 'La Fin de l'Histoire', a piece which starts with a solemn motif and ends with a delicate up-tempo jazzy coda, whose melody line is lead by vibes and piano. 'Les Folleries' includes a bunch of funky colors in the sonic palette, keeping and enhancing the subtle complexity and clever interaction that had been already present in the previous numbers: definitely, this is one of the album's most emblematic pieces, a privilege shared by 'Douce-Amere', 'Le Gros Roux', '11 Juillet' - all of them, perfect examples of the band's immaculate performing skills and rich musical vision. 'Les Epinettes' is a beautiful piece that keeps the listener attuned with Maneige's gentle side; and so does 'Mambo Chant' immediately after, with the band adding nuances of Latin jazz whose tones get increasingly intense near the end. Later on, this same gentle side in 'Au Clair de Prune', if only with an increased dose of sophistication. 'Time Square' closes down the album as if it were the soundtrack to a brief humorous sketch in a TV show: sheer simple joy at the end of the road, delivered with the exquisite finesse that has been present all around. I'm really enthusiastic about this album: this Canadian prog fusion masterpiece deserves a 5 star rating, and each individual musician involved deserves a gold medal.


Maneige - 1975 - Maneige

Maneige 
1975
Maneige




01. Les porches de Notre-Dame: 19:14
 a) Ouverture 3:03
 b) Suite I 2:34
 c) Suite II 0:45
 d) Suite III 3:25
 e) Désouverture 9:38
02. La grosse torche 1:24
03. Les aventures de saxinette et Clarophone: 15:41
 a) Chapitre I, épisode 1 3:47
 b) Chapitre I, épisode 2 5:16
 c) Chapitre II, épisode 1 1:31
 d) Chapitre II, épisode 2 2:34
 e) Chapitre III 2:33
04. Chromo part I 2:36
05. Chromo part II 1:37


- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flute, saxophone
- Jérome Langlois / keyboards, guitar, clarinet
- Vincent Langlois / keyboards, percussion
- Denis Lapierre / acoustic & electric guitars
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Paul Picard / percussion, bongos, xylophone
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion
+ Raoul Duguay / vocals, trombone

Recently reissued on the Cd format by the great ProgQuebec team, this album (and its predecessor) had been all too long ignored and denied a second life by the Harvest label. Oddly enough with the bulk of reserve material still waiting to be released back then, the CD reissue offers no bonus track, but the album alone is much worthy by itself. The last paragraphs are dedicated to the review being re-written after its reissue.

Old review: How to describe this absolutely masterful and orgasmic music? Except for this lone LP where one number is sung, Maneige is an instrumental group that lets you know right from the start that they will take full advantage of this and will not allow you one second of inattention. The group mixes acoustic and electric instrument with such dexterity that they make it look easy and sound simple. NOT SO!!! Although people will classify this group in the fusion section , this is only partly correct as there is some jazz & folk , but there is an uncommon percentage of classical music but nothing stolen from the historical composers.

This album and the debut as well as the recently released live 74-75 are highly indescribable melange of all sort of academic musics. If I must name one band of this site to come close to Maneige, I will tell you a cross between Univers Zero and Gentle Giant for the construction complexities but Maneige is so much more melodic and harmonious to your ears, that GG is rather distant cry from them.

"Why have you not heard of this band before?" you ask. My theory is that they got black listed because of their Quebecois origins at the time when Quebec was overtly menacing of separation from the rest of Canada because of the English compatriots refusing to recognize Quebec as a distinct society. This made Quebec groups unable to play freely in the rest of their country along with Harmonium (a little success), Pollen (just one superb record and disband), Aquarelle (I am not even sure they released something outside Quebec) and even the Franco-Ontarian band Cano, so they had real problems of exposure. This lasts still today except for Harmonium that does get international recognition. Is the best proof of this not that only three albums of this great band are on CD? As they are still relative unknown, your hunt for the vinyls should not be that difficult or expensive, but man, it is definitely worth it. Max: can you give a sixth star just for the sake of it?

New review: The 19-min+ title track suite (written by wind player Bergeron) is grabbing by the throat from the first notes, and never letting it go of its grip through its six movement, with its constantly evolving composition and so many different acoustic instruments taking over the previous one and even a rare sung section, whose lyrics were reprinted in a weird fashion on a loose sheet alongside the inner sleeve. The first side closes on a short symphonic (a quartet really) piece that is not as inspired as the rest of the album. Indeed, La Grosse Torche sounds out of place on the Cd (this was less evident on the vinyl).

The flipside starts with Saxinette and Clarophone's wild adventures and the opening minute could make you think of Genesis' The Lamb on the second disc But this is quickly forgotten as the two instruments share literally everything mixing blood, trading licks, making love to each other. Bergeron's sax and Langlois' clarinet are not just the stars of the show, they eclipse the sun for the duration of the track from shining so hard. Vincent (Jerome's brother) Langlois' electric piano solo draws chills in your back, until a weird animal meows like an elephant and the tracks veers into a wild goose chase ending in a chaotic crowd and dying a slow death! Du très grand art, monsieur!! The closing track Chromo is a much funkier track that will indeed remind what was coming ahead in NV.NN, which would be a much jazzier album.

The amazing thing is that obviously at the autumn of the group's first career (the Jerome Langlois years, if you wish), the group had loads more music that was still waiting for a proper studio recording and release. Most of these tracks can be found throughout the three live albums that have been released since 98. And from these albums, it's easy to see that Maneige's first line-up could have released a third album that would have easily matched their debut and Les Porches. So as Chromo sort of announces the new Maneige, Jerome Langlois will leave the group to concentrate on the long-standing project that he had tried to get of the ground with his previous group Lasting Weep. Le Spectacle de L'Albatros would then see the light of day in early 76 with both Lasting Weep and Maneige playing alongside, but this is another superb ProgQuebec chapter of the marvelous musical adventures of Progresson.


Maneige - 1975 - Les Porches

Maneige 
1975
Les Porches





01. Le rafiot 21:22
02. Une année sans fin 6:39
03. Jean-Jacques 4:13
04. Galerie III 7:50


- Alain Bergeron / keyboards, flute, saxophone
- Jérome Langlois / keuboards, guitar, clarinet
- Vincent Langlois / keyboards, percussion
- Denis Lapierre / acoustic & elelectric guitars
- Yves Léonard / acoustic & electric basses
- Gilles Schetagne / drums, percussion

MANEIGE is probably the Quebec band that epitomizes best the Quebec Prog boom from 74 to 79. Their music are probably one of the best example of what Fusion music can be by blending in classical and folk elements together with jazz tones the whole thing having a very progressive rock ideal and could also fit the chamber rock style. Their style can only be really compared to other Quebecois group as SLOCHE and OPUS-5.

They first got noticed by local music scene and press after repeatedly blowing off stage EKSEPTION on a local tour and were offered a recording contract by Harvest. The early albums were strongly directed by Jerome Langlois and Alain Bergeron using much of classical influences. The album best showing their early style is "Les Porches" is flawless and simply astounding in creativity for the times. However, due to musical directions difference Langlois will leave after this album and the music will become more jazz-tinged as Lapierre and Schetagne will take more musical composing roles. Their music will become gradually more percussive as each new album is released. After the live "Composite", the music will veer off in a more conventional jazz-rock style.

 The great ProgQuebec label has finally come through in acquiring the rights from the Harvest/EMI label to re-issue for the first time ever in the CD format Maneige's first two astounding albums. Although the great new label had already released two albums' worth of early live recordings, fact was that the public really wanted to see these album proper get their due paid respect. Not only does the album restore the original window artwork, but it also some awesome artwork to depict pictorially some of the tracks featured here, most notably the Amerindian and the raft for Le Rafiot, and another I gather for the bonus track Tetdet(etc..) with the mushroom/horn artwork in an effort to marry both. So I will keep my own first review, but will write underneath the re-actualised review.

Early review: Maneige 's debut is an incredible one and the fact that they were not in studio for recording before this album makes it even more awesome. Before recording it , they had played together for some time before and recently has been released a live recording of previous stuff called Live 74-75 with the cover depicting the studio tape case. Three very impressive numbers (and one of 29 min) but full of improv sometimes directionless but impeccably played but slightly longish soloing.

Just four mostly instrumental tracks (there is some singing into one track and it sounds good also), of which Jean-Jacques is really the highlight but all of them shine hard and brilliant, solid and fluid. The style is very much, as its successor Les Porches, a sort of fusion but it really holds a great content of classical music, but nothing stolen from the historical composers. If it were not for the sheer power of this music, I could be talking of chamber prog, but this would be hard to see this played in a salon of the haute-bourgeoisie as the intensity of the music would blow away the glass windows even with triple glass. The only slight remark, I can say is that some solos tends to drag on a tad too long in here, something that will disappear with the next album.

Updated review: Although the lengthy Le Rafiot (the raft) takes up the whole first side, I wouldn't call this epic flawless as there are some repetitive moments, but overall it builds impressively from an improvised free-jazz intro into the Rafiot piano motif that will pursue Jérome Langlois' career for so long. The resulting almost classical music Chamber Rock is not only incredibly impressive, but quite entertaining as well even if there are some dissonant improvs and incredible contrast and dynamic movements (the screaming sax, just before the sweetest of flutes) which makes it easy to understand why they repeatedly blew Ekseption off stage at the time. Clearly throughout this disc, Gentle Giant, classic Tull, early Soft Machine and Zappa are at the heart of Maneige's inspirations.

The flipside is made of three shorter tracks, of which Une Année Sans Fin (Never-ending Year) starts of from dissonant onto such a sweet flute/vibe duo underlined by the three man rhythm section (Leonard on bass and Schetagne/Vincent Langlois on percussions). Excellent stuff. The shorter Jean Jacques is again picking up on a piano theme, but soon evolving to a sweeping piano-led full out classical-fusion-jazz. Another beauty!! Galerie III features Jérome's brother Vincent on piano, but to allow his brother more freedom. The track ends pretty much the same way the album had opened with Le Rafiot. According to Langlois, the group hazd some difficulties with studio works as they had to dissect their music in individual parts, so they could get a studio to record the separate musicians. They had been playing so much together these pieces


L'Orchestre Sympathique - 1979 - En Concert à la Grande Passe

L'Orchestre Sympathique
1979
En Concert à la Grande Passe





01. Citronade (7:59)
02. Houmalaya (10:10)
03. Des lacs, des rivières, des ruisseaux (5 :53)
04. Perpétuel balouba (8:30)
05. Biplane (7:32)0

- Mathieu Léger / drums
- Jean Vanasse / vibraphone, percussions
- François Richard / keyboards, flute
- Warren Stolow / bass

L'ORCHESTRE SYMPATHIQUE was a Jazz quartet founded in November 1976 by classicaly trained vibraphonist / percussionist Jean Vanasse, flautist / pianist Francois Richard, and drummer Mathieu Leger.They were joined by various bass players over the years.They released three live albums over their careers including this one recorded live at the La Grande Passe in April of 1979.They never could secure a record deal so there were no studio albums released unfortunately.The band would eventually move to Paris, France and toured Europe extensively from 1981-1985.They did reunite for one show at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2004. I must admit that after a few casual listenes I thought this was too flutey (is that a word?) but after some careful listens man I was so impressed with everything about this recording.The flute is prominant but the drumming is incredible ! And the bass is very deep and snarly. Just a very cool album overall. Love the cover art too.

"Citronnade" has this very presice and crisp drumming with lots of vibes and flute. It changes before 5 minutes as the percussion and drums lead and the flute settles back.Vibes and bass a minute later then the flute takes the lead again. Some vocal melodies too then back the original soundscape. "Houmalaya" opens with percussion, vibes and drums. Flute and bass before 1 1/2 minutes. It then settles with flute leading. A drum show after 5 minutes then the bass joins in after 6 1/2 minutes followed by flute and vibes. "Des Lacs, Des Rivieres, De Ruisseaux" is more of the same really and I like the chunky bass 2 minutes in. A calm 3 1/2 minutes in then it kicks back in a minute later.

"Perpetual Balouba" has this avant intro which is chaotic but very good. Piano in this one too.Vibes and drums take over as we get some growly bass and piano that come and go. Piano leads 2 1/2 minutes in then the vibes and drums return. Flute before 7 minutes. "Biplane" opens with flute then someone starts speaking to the audience as the flute stops.The flute returns when he's done speaking and it's quite spacey. Bass comes in and it's so impressive. It settles after 5 minutes with more spacey flute and sparse bass. Such a great track.

There must have been something in the water in Quebec in the seventies because there were so many talented bands. No just a lot of talent in that province. And this band was one of the best.


Lasting Weep - 2007 - Le Spectacle de l'Albatros

Lasting Weep 
2007 
Le Spectacle de l'Albatros




01. Le Mariage (2:35)
02. Préparation Et Départ (6:25)
03. La Mort De L'Albatros (12:45)
04. Le Voyage Se Transforme (8:54)
05. Malédiction (9:19)
06. Jumping Jelly Beans (3:38)
07. One By One By One By One (9:15)
08. La Chanson De L'Oiseau Des Iles (7:58)
09. Le Voyage Se Transforme II (9:43)

Total Time: 70:32
Recorded live at La Bibliothèque Nationale Du Québec in Montréal on Febr 28, 29 and March 1, 1976


- Alain Bergeron / flute, saxophone, vocals
- Jérome Langlois / guitar, piano, organ, clarinet, clavinet
- Claude Chapleau / bass guitar
- Mathieu Léger / drums, piano

The full line of Maneige
- Raoul Duguay / winds, vocals
- JG Monpetit / electric guitar
- Bernard "Engoulevent" Cormier / violin
- Jean "L'OS" Vanasse / vibraphone, percussion
- Michel McLean / guitar, vocals
- Claude Lahaie / bass clarinet
- Gilles Lauzier / piano, violin
- Chris Rawlings / guitar, recorder

This second posthumous LW album is really the one that made the ProgQuebec releases really worthy, even if for this one, the group had to be revived more than four years after it had folded. Indeed, Jérome Langlois was working on this mega project, based on Sam Taylor's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, which was to be Lasting Weep's first album. Alas, he never got around to finish it before the group's demise and he kept working at it during his three years in Maneige. As Maneige was slowly changing its Chamber-rock sound to jazz-rock, Langlois decided to leave Maneige, on the "musical difference grounds" and by chance, he was finally finished with his magnum opus. He received an offer to have it played live for a series of six shows over three nights in the Bibliothèque Nationale Du Quebec in the heart of the winter of 76. While it was recorded (with the full technical means as this was a provincial official command), it was never released until some 30 years later.

The show quickly became a multi-media affair with a mime troupe, special decors (including a giant albatross kite), some 17 musicians including the re-united Lasting Weep and the full Maneige line-up (Langlois and Bergeron playing in both), some members of Conventum, L'Orchestre Sympathique and more. The show was pre-rehearsed but not as much as wished due to the number of musicians involved.

Musically the Albatross is closer to Maneige's Les Porches, rather than the other LW release's jazz-rock, as it distils the same kind of chamber-rock. Ranging from classical derived theme to almost free improvisation passages (the start of Préparation) to a poppy tune (the almost-atrocious Jumping Jelly Beans), through the heavy percussion passages (Mort De l'Albatros) and full-drama and goose-bumps-guaranteed moments with Spanish trumpets (the middle section of the same track), the elusive, tentative and intrusive but not vindictive or provocative nature of One By One By One By One and

The introduction called Le Marriage, the only non-Langlois piece (bar the lengthy Schetagne-penned percussion pièce of Malédiction), written by singer Duguay, has some typical pastoral folk influences, but most interesting is the dark and gloomy-doomy bridge leading to the rehearsed free improv of the second track. This second track epitomizes best the whole opus, with its many moods and twists, but La Mort De l'Albatros and Voyage Se Transforme (pt1) are really the centre of the Oeuvre (with a capital O). The second par of the suite is not as near-perfect, but it ends on the reprise of Voyage Se Transforme (pt2, this time) which gives the envy to press your remote control's "play" button again.

Of course all is not perfect in the middle of Quebec's February blizzard as Albatros presents some flaws: Duguay's singing is uneven (and sometimes downright wrong in the Oiseau Des Iles track, ruining an otherwise superb track), the lengthy percussion/drum interludes overstays its welcome by a good four minutes, and other less notable imperfections. If you are a fan of Maneige's early albums, chances are you'll share the skies with the albatross and soar like an eagle for the duration of this album. Highly recommended by start with Maneige before getting to this album.


Lasting Weep - 2007 - Lasting Weep (1969-1971)

Lasting Weep 
2007 
Lasting Weep (1969-1971)




01. 29 Avril (11:39)
02. De mi à mi (9:02)
03. Magdalena (8:17)
04. Rien ne sert de courir, il faut partir à point (2:49)
05. Extrait de « Safari de pêche » 1 (2:41)
06. Extrait de « Safari de pêche » (25:50)
07. Bye-bye (live) (7:05)
08. Carmen Kétaine (live) (25:27)
09. Ma Thématique I (1:05)
10. Ma Thématique II (1:22)

- Alain Bergeron / flute, saxophone, vocals
- Jérome Langlois / guitar, piano, organ, clarinet, clavinet
- Claude Chapleau / bass guitar
- Mathieu Léger / drums, piano

Guest musician:
- Gilles Schetagne / percussion

This group is the first step to MANEIGE. Going as far back as 68 as a blues-rock cover (TYA and others) group, this guitar-less quartet (but with a wind player) played and progressed for a few years around recording some demos, but never finding a label to actually record and release an album. Lasting Weep took its name from a Verlaine poem (Les Sanglots Longs from Chanson D'Automne), and was working on a mega-ambitious project that was to be L'Albatross and unfortunately they never managed to finish it. They soldiered on until late 72, their career culminating in opening a show in Montreal for KING CRIMSON. Then Jerome Langlois left the group to found MANEIGE with fellow wind player Alain Bergeron.

When Jérome left Maneige, for musical differences, he was almost through writing his project L'Albatross (based on Sam Taylor's Rime Of The Ancient Mariner) and it was offered to him to perform it for a short series of shows at the Bibliothèque Nationale. So Langlois gathered his ex-MANEIGE fellows, reformed LASTING WEEP (for this project only) and added a bunch of local Quebec stars and started rehearsing the piece and building it into a multi-media event including a giant bird-like kite. The show was recorded under ideal conditions, but simply never released until recently under ProgQuebec's initiative.

Along with this release, the label also released the few demo tapes that LASTING WEEOP had recorded during their actual lifetime between 69 and 71 at the same time than the Albatross release.

Of the first of Lasting Weep's two posthumous releases of, this one is actually the only one that could be regarded as their only testament, made from five recording sessions between 69 and 71, two of them for soundtracks to films or images. LW was made up of future Quebecois greats flauter/saxman Bergeron and multi instrumentalist Langlois (both future Maneige), drummer Mathieu Leger (future Conventum and l'Orchestre Sympathique) and bassist Chapleau (found as a session musician on a lot of 70's records). Apparently these archives were found in one of musician's attic; and most thankfully these tapes can be finally made public.

As incredible as it may sound, if you are aware of Maneige's debut recordings, you'll find that the music developed in Lasting Weep sounds much the same as Maneige Chamber Rock and as far back as five years before. In some ways it is little wonder Maneige could never have found a rock label to release their music, simply because they were way too ahead of their time, even in terms of jazz realm too. Indeed their music was obviously fitting nothing ever heard before (and would unfortunately remain so until nowadays), and it is not hard to understand that most music publishers would be at a loss to actually sell this music especially in a lost place that Quebec was still back in the late 60's, kept under a heavy suffocating blanket of Anglophone domination. If the first signs of cultural uprising had already happened with the Chansonniers' rise, and Charlebois' turn towards rock music with the defying Joual overtones (the local dialect was still somewhat taboo on records) in 67, we are far away from the brilliant and vibrant scene from the 70's, and its fabulous progressive extension of the second half of the decade.

LW's music could not really help out carry out the revolution since theirs was of an instrumental nature, and of a "jazz persuasion" for lack of a better definition back then, so not only were they unnoticed, but (if they'll allow me to say so) also irrelevant - except retrospectively speaking. So apart from some approximate sound quality, the pure qualitative value of the music is amazing: soundwise you could think of Jethro Tull's Time Was with a much more progressive jazz-rock feel. Indeed these demo tapes are dazzling and very impressive at showing the quartet's individual virtuoso playing at their respective instruments.

The first of these sessions consist of three tracks that you guessed it were recorded on April 29th of that year. While the opening track gets us into a jazzy mood, reminding us a bit of Tull's Serenade To A Cuckoo, it is relatively clear that this tracks was not intended for release as such since it veers into a lengthy bass and drums solo session, taking up the last third of the track. De Mi A Mi (demi ami? >> half friend or From Miami?) is an almost hard rocker, where the middle section is taking us into a jazz-rock exploration that soon evolves in a "call and response" from the different musicians including the drummer. Magdalena is another beauty where Bergeron's flute seems to dominate, but Chapleau's bass work is so "all over the place" that it doesn't play second fiddle to none. The track ends up in a flute duo that could wink as Bourée or another Stand Up track. More or less can be included the short studio track Rien Ne Sert De Courir, recorded later that year is much in the same genre, but rougher and rawer. Safari De Pêche (fishing safari) is a soundtrack from a seldom-seen film, where the jazz dimension is greatly diminished in favour of a folkier and more classical and acoustic mood in the first version, while it reappears in the second one.

The next two tracks come from a live concert in Longueuil in 71, and this is where the sound issue gets a little "iffy", but nothing that shameful either, even if sometimes a bit limit; and they get the help of another future Maneige member Gilles Schetagne on percussion. One of the striking differences is how the group sounds so much more electric: Bye Bye gets an electric piano and guitar, but it is probably the weaker track on the album, in part due to the recording. The following 25-min+ Carmen Kétaine is certainly over-stretched, loses itself in overlong soloing, but this is a fine example of early Chamber Rock. But overall on stage, LW sounds like a much more progressive early Tull as they did in the studios.

The last two tracks (again a play on words, here) are from a soundtrack for a math children movie, are a bit anecdotic, but are very charming if understandingly uncomplicated. While this record is hardly essential, compared to the province's future truckload of masterpiece, I have enough respect to give it its fourth star, because of the group's precocious-ness and advance on their musical times.