The Squid's Ear
Recently @ Squidco:

Magnus Granberg : Es Schwindelt Mir, Es Brennt Mein Eingweide (Another Timbre)

An hour-long work for an ensemble of six musicians by Swedish composer Magnus Granberg performed by Anna Lindal on baroque violin, d incise on vibraphonen electronics, Cyril Bondi on percussion, Anna Kaisa Meklin on viola da gamba, Christoph Schiller on spinet, and Magnus Granberg himself on prepared piano, transforming material from a song by Franz Schubert. ... Click to View


John Cage : Two2 (Another Timbre)

One of a handful of John Cage's number pieces, this work for two pianists follows the forms of Renga poetry, composed with 36 lines of music, each containing 5 measures, and each line having 31 events occuring in the sequence 5-7-5-7-7, with the pianists allowed their own tempo but waiting to synchronize each measure, as performed by Mark Knoop and Philip Thomas. ... Click to View


Bondi / Martel / Schiller: tse (Another Timbre)

With backgrounds in both improvisation and compositional music, the new trio of Cyril Bondi on harmonium, Pierre-Yves Martel on viola da gamba, and Christoph Schiller on spinet, agreed on a sequence of pitches for this 5 part improvisational work, allowing space for the players to explore pitch and melody within a contemplative and pensive framework. ... Click to View


Angles 3: Parede (Clean Feed)

Martin Kuchen's Angles band changes shape constantly, originally a trio and expanding as large as Angles 10, but this album, recorded live at SMUP, Parede, Portugal in 2016, returns the band to the original trio of Kuchen on sax, Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten on double bass, and Kjell Nordeson on drums & percussion, reworking Angles compositions to their essence. ... Click to View


Honest John w/ Ab Baars : Treem (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quintet Honest John of Ole Henrik Moe on violin, Kim Johannesen on guitar & banjo, Ola Hoyer on double bass, Erik Nylander on drums & drum machine, on Klaus Ellerhusen sax and clarinet, are joined by multi-reedist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars at Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria to capture this quirky, controlled, and incredibly knowledgeable concert. ... Click to View


Chris Pitsiokos / CP Unit: Silver Bullet In The Autumn Of Your Years (Clean Feed)

Pushing the envelope in genre-smashing collective improvisation, Brooklyn-based sax and synth player Chris Pitsiokos and his CP Unit with 2 electric bassists--Tim Dahl and Henry Fraser--2 drummers--Jason Nazary and Connor Baker--and guitarist Sam Lisabeth, take a twisted path through improv, rock, and electronics that always shows a fierce allegiance to free jazz. ... Click to View


Scott Clark: Tonow (Clean Feed)

Drummer Scott Clark continues to explore his Native American roots in this album dedicated to the protests at Standing Rock, North Dakota, each heartfelt piece titled for aspects of those demonstrations, performed with bassist Cameron Ralston, trumpeter Bob Miller, saxophonist Jason Scott, guitarist Alan Parker, and extended with Chicago guitarist Tobin Summerfield. ... Click to View


Lynn Cassiers : Imaginary Band (Clean Feed)

Composer, vocalist and electronics artist Lynn Cassiers' new septet with Sylvain Debaisieux (soprano and tenor saxophone), Ananta Roossens (violin), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Erik Vermeulen (piano), Manolo Cabras (double bass) and Marek Patrman (drums) in their adventurous debut album blending improv, pop aesthetics, electronics, dreamlike voice, and solid playing. ... Click to View


AMM: An Unintended Legacy [3 CDs] (Matchless)

A beautiful 3-CD set with a hardcover book presenting 3 full concerts from 2015 & 2016 of the AMM trio configuration of John Tilbury (piano), Keith Rowe (guitar) and Eddie Prevost (percussion). The 70 page book, dedicated to saxophonist Lou Gare, includes an AMM discography, plus photos, an essays by Paige Mitchell and Allen Fisher; Keith Rowe; Eddie Prevost; and Lou Gare. ... Click to View


Mary Halvorson : Code Girl [2 CDs] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Always open to new approaches, NY guitarist Mary Halvorson takes her trio with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, adds trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and, in a twist of the thumbscrew, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, for a mix of song and instrumental pieces that balance jazz and rock sensibilities with lyricism, intricate lines, and creative spirit. ... Click to View


Mary Halvorson : Code Girl [VINYL] (Firehouse 12 Records)

Always open to new approaches, NY guitarist Mary Halvorson takes her trio with drummer Tomas Fujiwara and bassist Michael Formanek, adds trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and, in a twist of the thumbscrew, vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, for a mix of song and instrumental pieces that balance jazz and rock sensibilities with lyricism, intricate lines, and creative spirit. ... Click to View


The Thing (Gustafsson / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love + McPhee): Again (The Thing Records)

The Thing "again" as Gustafsson on saxophones, Haker Flaten on electric and acoustic bass, and Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion present 3 extended blues-based, Ayler-inflected free jazz pieces, with Gustafsson's powerfully emotional playing over Haker-Flaten and Nilssen-Love's powerful polyrhythmic foundations; Joe McPhee joins for one track taking on a Frank Lowe piece. ... Click to View


The Thing (Gustafsson / Haker Flaten / Nilssen-Love + McPhee): Again [VINYL] (The Thing Records)

The Thing "again" as Gustafsson on saxophones, Haker Flaten on electric and acoustic bass, and Nilssen-Love on drums & percussion present 3 extended blues-based, Ayler-inflected free jazz pieces, with Gustafsson's powerfully emotional playing over Haker-Flaten and Nilssen-Love's powerful polyrhythmic foundations; Joe McPhee joins for one track taking on a Frank Lowe piece. ... Click to View


Moholo-Moholo's, Louis Five Blokes: Uplift The People (Ogun)

Drummer Moholo-Moholo, a member of Blue Notes, Elton Dean's Ninesene, Foxes Fox, London Improvisers Orchestra, a sideman for Brotzmann, Keith Tippets sideman and drummer and most importantly, band leader in a rich, lyrical and spiritual album recorded live at Cafe Oto in 2017 with Alexander Hawkins (piano), John Edwards (bass), Shabaka Hutchings (sax) and Jason Yard (sax). ... Click to View


Daniel Carter / William Parker / Matthew Shipp: Seraphic Light (Live At Tufts University) (Aum Fidelity)

A long-form 3-part work of collective improvisation from 3 masterful New York free jazz legends--Daniel Carter on flute, trumpet, clarinet, and saxophones, William Parker on bass, and Matthew Shipp on piano--performing live at Tufts University in 2017 in a beautifully thoughtful and lyrical concert presented after a screening of the '59 film "The Cry of Jazz". ... Click to View


Ceramic Dog (Ribot / Ches Smith / Shahzad Ismaily): Y R U Still Here? [VINYL] (Northern Spy)

... Click to View


The Ex: 27 Passports (Ex Records)

After several years of Brass Unbound, Getatchew Mekuria, festivals and countless side projects, The Ex return to The Ex, a 4-piece led by the trio of guitars from Andy Moor, Terrie Hessels and Arnold de Boer driven by drummer Katherina Bornefeld, de Boer acerbic and insightful on this seriously great rock record; plus a 36-page photo book from Andy Moor. ... Click to View


The Ex: 27 Passports [VINYL] (Ex Records)

After several years of Brass Unbound, Getatchew Mekuria, festivals and countless side projects, The Ex return to The Ex, a 4-piece led by the trio of guitars from Andy Moor, Terrie Hessels and Arnold de Boer driven by drummer Katherina Bornefeld, de Boer acerbic and insightful on this seriously great rock record; plus a 36-page photo book from Andy Moor. ... Click to View


Mette Rasmussen / Tashi Dorji: (Feeding Tube Records)

Captured live, the excitingly assertive improvisation of Danish saxophonist Mette Rasmussen and Bhutan electric guitarist Tashi Dorji on the stage at Hotel2Tango in Montreal, Quebec in 2016, and at La Sala Rosa, each pushing the limits on their instruments while retaining control of their conversation, a taught balancing act of extraordinary playing. ... Click to View


Elisabeth Harnik / Joelle Leandre: Tender Music (Trost Records)

Two like-minded musicians with a history in compositional and improvised music, pianist and prepared pianist Elisabeth Harnik and double bassist and vocalist Joelle Leandre met at WIST, in Graz, Austria in 2016 to perform and record this live album of insightful and compelling dialog between two masterful musicians full of creativity and virtuosic skill. ... Click to View


Zu / Mats Gustafsson: How To Raise An Ox [VINYL] (Trost Records)

The first vinyl edition of the 2004 collaboration of Italian power trio Zu of Luca Tommaso Mai on baritone sax, Massimo Pupillo on bass, and Jacopo Battaglia on drums, with Swedish baritone sax phenomenon Mats Gustafsson, what Atavistic calls a "hypno-skronk implosion" of dueling baritones sax over wonderfully intense and skronky free improvisation; a classic! ... Click to View


Marty Ehrlich: Trio Exaltation (Clean Feed)

With a history of playing together in the Andrew Hill Sextet, Marty Ehrlich immediately chose bassist John Hebert and drummer Nasheet Waits to join Ehrlich in his new trio endeavor, the multi-wind & reed player on alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet and wooden flutes as they perform 9 lyrical and sophisticated Ehrlich compositions, plus one by Andrew Hill. ... Click to View


Chrome Hill: The Explorer (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian quartet formerly known as "Damp" with baritone guitarist Asbjorn Lerheim, tenor saxophonist Atle Nymo, drummer Torstein Lofthus, and double bassist Roger Arntzen, blend expressive forms of jazz with blues and rock in an expansive and rich set of tunes that both pay homage and look to new and inclusive formations of emotional and effusive music. ... Click to View


Lana Trio w/ Sofia Jernberg: Lana Trio w/ Sofia Jernberg (Clean Feed)

The Norwegian experimental collective improvising group of Henrik Munkeby Norstebo on trombone, Kjetil Jerve on piano, and Andreas Wildhagen on drums & percussion are the core trio here, presenting their third release by adding free improvising vocalist Sofia Jernberg, bringing a sense of unpredictability to a finely controlled chaos of technical mastery. ... Click to View


Rafael Toral / Hugo Antunes / Joao Pais Filipe / Ricardo Webbens: Space Quartet (Clean Feed)

Composer, engineer and electronic artist Rafael Toral has completed his Space Program series and now launches his "Space Quartet" with double bassist Hugo Antunes, drummer/percussionist Joao Pais Filipe, synth player Ricardo Webbens, and Toral himself on modular feedback, blending solid acoustic rhythms with interstellar and abstract sound; singular. ... Click to View


Kirk Knuffke / Ben Goldberg: Uncompahgre (Relative Pitch)

Two extraordinary players from two coasts--clarinetist Ben Goldberg from the West and cornetist Kirk Knuffke from the East--in an exuberant duo of lyrical and virtuosic free jazz that astonishes the listener with the ease of their interactions in both parallel and contrasting lines, supporting the other as they express themselves uniquely; an impressive achievement! ... Click to View


Tomeka Reid / Kyoko Kitamura / Taylor Ho Bynum / Joe Morris: Geometry of Caves (Relative Pitch)

Bringing New York and Chicago performers together, the quartet of cellist Tomeka Reid, guitarist Joe Morris, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and free vocalist Kyoko Kitamura present an album of expressive and creative collective improvisation, bridging chamber forms and free jazz with a captivatingly eccentric appeal from Kitamura's wordless vocalese. ... Click to View


Tatakai Trio (Kuchen / Lindsjo / Strid): HappI (Relative Pitch)

A trio of well-versed Swedish free improvisers--Martin Kuchen on soprano & sopranino saxophones, Raymond Strid on drums, and Anders Lijndsjo on guitar--in 8 studio improvisations of unusual and highly rhythmic and upbeat interplay, titled with happy adjectives, an apt description of the joy these three find in unconventional approaches to improvisation. ... Click to View


Stephanie Richards : Full Moon (Relative Pitch)

An extremely interesting experimental record of free improvisation and electronics from the duo of Dino J.A. Deane and trumpeter Stephanie Richards, whose work with Henry Threadgill and Butch Morris is felt in these pieces where Richards explores resonance in brass and percussion as Deane samples and manipulates her playing live; an inventive and effusive album. ... Click to View


Fujii / Fonda / Mimmo: Triad (Long Song Records)

An album recorded on the 59th birthday of pianist-composer Satoko Fujii, the second recorded with bassist Joe Fonda on the Long Song imprint, this time in a trio with soprano saxophonist Gianni Mimmo, the focus of the album the 42 minute monumental improvisation "Birthday Girl", a sophisticated and engaging dialog of lyrical playing and great beauty. ... Click to View


  •  •  •    Join Our Mailing List!



The Squid's Ear
Squidco Sales



  Separatism and Sound in French Quebec  

a parait pas, mais a parait


By Mike Chamberlain 2002-12-19

At the Guelph Jazz Festival in 1999, Jean Derome, leader of Les Dangereux Zhoms, provoked unease in the middle Canadian audience when he declared that it was a pleasure to play in Canada for a change.

When I asked Derome about the statement later, he told me that it was, in fact, the first time the group had played in Canada, "including Quebec," he added, in about a year. "So I wasn't really making a political statement by saying that." He paused for a moment, then said, "But of course, it is a political statement."

As Rene Lussier says in "Salade du Chef:" Ça parait pas, mais ça parait. Translated, "it's not obvious, but it is." Or, one could twist the phrase a bit and get "sépares pas, mais sépares." (That is, "Not separate, but separate.)

Even as an English-speaking resident of Quebec whose stance on the question of Quebec's sovereignty is as much pragmatic as emotional, to hear Quebec and Canada referred to as two different countries can be a bit jarring. But it is also clear to me that the question of Quebec's status as a nation-as opposed to an independent political entity-is hardly in doubt, and that even if the sovereignty project is stalled for the moment, with Quebec in an uneasy 50-50 impasse after two failed referendums, psychologically, at least, Quebec and Canada might as well be two different countries.

Ça parait pas, mais ça parait.

Derome and Lussier are two of the founding members of the record label Ambiances Magnetiques, a Montreal-based collective whose music has been labelled as musique actuelle. The term, most famously associated with the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, was coined-most people agree-by Universite de Montreal composer Pierre Mercure sometime around 1960. Mercure meant music of now, and the path he took indicated a break from the European hegemony of contemporary classical music in Quebec. Since then, the term has acquired new meanings.

In his book, Plunderphonics, Pataphysics, and Pop Mechanics, Andrew Jones described musique actuelle as "distinct music for a distinct society." My question is, what is particularly quebecois about musique actuelle? Additionally, and particularly, how do discourses within and around this musical practice tie in with discourses of Quebec nationalism?

In dealing fairly quickly with the first, and elaborating a bit on the second by examining several works of Rene Lussier, I hope to open up avenues for further discussion.

In 1982, Michel Levasseur inaugurated the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. It is unclear whether Levasseur had even heard of Pierre Mercure at the time, but the mix of programming at Victo came to define the eclecticism for which musique actuelle is known.

Ambiances Magnetiques was founded as a non-proft collective in1983 by seven Montreal musicians-Jean Derome, Andre Duchesne, Joanne Hetu, Diane Labrosse, Robert Marcel Lepage, Rene Lussier, and Danielle Palardy Roger. Shortly after, Michel F. Cote and Martin Tetreault joined the collective. The musicians came from a variety of backgrounds-jazz, classical, folk, and rock-but they were all experimentalists who had experienced difficulty in getting their music recorded and released. The term musique actuelle-which only record stores in Quebec employ as a musical category-came to be applied to the work of the various members of the Ambiances Magnetiques collective.

The materials used by the Ambiances Magnetiques musicians had Quebecois antecedents: the non-serial contemporary classical music of Pierre Mercure and the Societe Musique Contemporain du Quebec; the free jazz of the politically radical Quatour Jazz Libre du Quebec of the late 1960s; Walter Boudreault and Raoul Duguay's mix of classical, jazz, rock, and multimedia experimentalism with L'Infonie; and traditional Quebec folkmusic. The notion of metissage, or mixing, then is integral to the practices of musique actuelle. For Rene Lussier, as we will see, metissage is also a vital component in the formation of Quebecois cultural identity.

One must also consider the historical context of the emergence of this new hybrid music. I hesitate to call it a style-musique actuelle is defined more by reference to methodology than to genre. The central problem for the Quebecois is in pursuing a national project based mainly on preservation and of a French-language heritage and the evolution of identity within an overwhelmingly English-speaking environment culturally and economically dominated by the United States. However, while there is anxiety about the emerging modernization of Quebec society, for creators, modernization presents opportunities as well.

Robert Marcel Lepage claims that it was in the process of translation of the music that the members had in their large, eclectic record collections that the shape of musique actuelle was formed. As he puts it, "For the creative musician, the Tower of Babel is a blessing, not a curse. When we played Albert Ayler, we would mix it up with folk music. So you might get a free jazz jig." Again and again in conversation with the Ambiances Magnetiques people, the word transformation came up. In fact, something is gained, not lost, in the translation.

Turning to the work of Rene Lussier, Le Tresor de la Langue is an exemplary text that deals with vital questions in the formation of a Quebecois identity. Lussier took to the roads of Quebec in the late 1980s, asking people the simple question, "Is it important to speak French in Quebec?" One can hardly imagine an English-Canadian asking the same question outside Quebec. Tresor immediately foregrounds the difference between Quebecois French and the French spoken in France, as the first interlocutor is a woman from France who says that it is important to speak French in Quebec but that she has difficulty understanding the Quebecois dialect.

Rather than engaging in a useless debate over the relative merits of standard French and Quebecois French, Lussier explores the richness and the musical possibilities of Quebecois French, which has been formed by its 400-year separation from France and its incorporation of native and English terms and phrases. Among other things, he turns Charles de Gaulle's famous "Vive le Quebec libre" speech at the Montreal City Hall in 1967 (in which he riled federalists by openly supporting a "free" Quebec) and the FLQ (Front de Liberation du Quebec) manifesto into musical texts. So we see the process of translation and transformation at work in Tresor.

Quebec aux Quebecois. This phrase, which we see and hear at public spectacles such as the St. Jean Baptiste Day parade, is an ominous one for non-francophone Quebecois. Imagining the nation involves delineating the borders of the community, and the notion that there are pure laine Quebecois who constitute the nation is frightening for those who do not fit into this category. One thinks of then-premier Jacques Parizeau's infamous concession speech after the 1995 referendum when he asked what "we" (the separatists) were defeated by? His answer: "money and the ethnic vote." Thus, anti-separatists employ the term "ethnic nationalism" to discredit Quebec nationalism.

For Lussier, Parizeau's position is a non-starter. A central thesis that emerges in Tresor is that the Quebecois identity is itself a metissage of French, English, native, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Haitian, and North African elements. Instead of marginalizing the ethnics, he incorporates them into the cultural heritage of Quebec. By valuing the non-francophone elements of culture as part of the very patrimonie of Quebec, Lussier shows a way out of the dilemma posed by the cosmopolitan nature of Quebec society. Or, if it's not a way out for francophones, it is a way in for non-francophones.

Lussier's impatience with certain dominant nationalist discourses that have served to hold up the sovereignty project can turn to despair. While the dream of a sovereign Quebec is still a vitalizing force for most members of Ambiances Magnetiques, there has also been a shift in emphasis to more personal concerns, which are, nonetheless, political. This is a turn away from a focus on the preservation of the French language in Quebec to be found in Derome and Lussier's "P'tit Pain" or anxiety over the attractions and pitfalls of modernization expressed in Andre Duchesne's "Train, Train." Lussier's song, "Salade du Chef" is ostensibly concerned with the economy and technology of food production, but it can also be read as a comment on the current political situation in Quebec.

Making une salade du chef involves mixing in all kinds of food. Once ingested, the salad becomes part of the body. Lussier considers modern food production, with its reliance on chemicals (fertiilizers, herbicides, pesticides), antibiotics, and genetic modification, noting that even the lettuce is not in control of itself. Modern agriculture is not about growing healthy food, and it's not about stewardship of the land. It's all about money. "Toutes est au cash."

Taken literally, the lyric expresses Lussier's concerns of daily life, not different from people anywhere. For the past several years, he has spent most of his time in a rural region where industrial pig producing facilities have polluted the rivers and ground water. His retreat is analogous to the retreat from overt separatist concerns by other Ambiances Magnetiques artists, such as Diane Labrosse and Michel F. Cote. Labrosse noted that her work has become less political and more poetic since the heady days of nationalist fervor around 1980. Cote, whose work as a sound artist tends to be less political in anyevent, now regards the sovereignist project as irrelevant to the challenges posed by globalization.

Lussier might-he didn't say as much, and I don't want to put words in his mouth-agree with Cote's view that Quebec premier Bernard Landry is only a little less stupid than Canada's prime minister, Jean Chretien. But "Salade du Chef," given a reading in light of the current Quebec government's obsession with economic development and the recent history of the separatist movement in Quebec, reveals deeper meanings.

Even if my translation is imperfect, the transformation can be quite productive in terms of the issues discussed here. Lussier's text is saying, quite clearly, (ca parait pas, mais ca parait) that we are all part of this salad,this metissage, but we are subject to the totalizing discourse of global capitalism in which we are regarded as no more than productive units (toutes est au cash). We are prisoners, the 5000 pigs under one roof, the cattle, the sheep, the turkeys, even the vegetables, who are not in control of themselves, and we only have to look at the very basic elements of our lives to see this reality. Jacques Parizeau said that the sovereignists were defeated by "money and the ethnic vote"but money was really just a code word for anglo Quebecois. As I noted earlier, Lussier disavows the separation between the terms Quebecois and ethnic or anglo, but it is really our obsession with money that hinders the creation of a healthy body politic and keeps us apart.

Ca parait pas, mais ca parait. Separes pas, mais separes.



The Squid's Ear is the companion magazine to the online music shop Squidco !


  Copyright © 2016 Squidco. All rights reserved. Trademarks. (124849)