Vincent Lecoeur in Octopus
Toute l’équipe du label Ambiances magnétiques se retrouve ici aux côtés de Diane Labrosse pour cet heureux détournement de proverbes.
Traité de sagesse pratique en cinq tableaux (philosophie, sagesse, sentiments, quotidien, morale) et trente-sept courtes pièces collages; Diane Labrosse détourne free jazz, chant grégorien, toccata, musique aléatoire et negro spiritual avec un humour dévastateur.
Quelques perles glanées au hasard: Deuil pour deuil, an pour an, Plus on est mou, plus on s’excuse; Une loi n’est pas Coutume; L’argent n’a pas d’honneur, etc. C’est riche, ça fourmille, c’est résolument inclassable, diablement jouissif et c’est indiscutablement l’une des plus denses productions du label québécois. À consommer sans modération aucune.
Canadian Diane Labrosse is a part of the musique actuelle movement. Literally it means contemporary music. Yes, that is rather broad, isn’t it? The deeper meaning that’s applied to it serves to coin a genre which encapsulates elements of jazz, avant-garde rock as well as musical improvisation. Late 60s-70s avant-rockers Henry Cow (originally, Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson) are looked to as originators of musique actuelle.
Labrosse is also a part of the Montréal based Ambiances Magnétiques Collective. It was an artist co-op before Joane Hétu founded the record label. That collective includes: Jean Derome, René Lussier (co-founded the collective along with Derome), André Duchesne, Robert Marcel Lepage, Danielle Palardy Roger, Joane Hétu, Martin Tétreault and Michel F Côté. The last two members were later additions, the other seven were the original 1983 members.
There’s no shortage of releases (forty), or groups for Diane, either. Most of them involve members of the AMC including Justine, an all female affair including Danielle and Joane with the addition of Marie Trudeau. Wondeur Brass, which has essentially the same line-up as Justine only without Trudeau. There’s also repeated pairings with Tétreault. Île bizarre, which sees that duo aided by Ikue Mori is highly recommended.
In English, Petit traité de sagesse pratique, translates to “a short treatise on practical wisdom”. According to AM’s press release on their website this album is “a series of miniature songs whose texts-some ironic or mocking, others of (intentionally) questionable value-are drawn from those great popular guides we call proverbs. These reflections on morality, often out-of-date, are re-examined, reworked… by Diane Labrosse”. Seeing as how the lyrics aren’t in English, my response is “if you say so”.
Petit is thirty-seven tracks barely spanning forty-nine minutes. It should go without saying that there are a hell of a lot of ideas, musically and non—, packed into such a concise time frame. There are no songs over two minutes and only two under thirty seconds. While superficially, it might not seem like such time constraints would work for avant-garde music, after all, haven’t we grown accustomed to half hour tracks from the likes of keith rowe by now? While Petit’s mere approach itself may seem experimental, each piece of music is its own concrete statement. The brevity never seems to fracture anything and while there’s a plethora of tracks that I wish were longer, the album works and without any regrets. Diane may be receiving the sole-billing for this CD, but I have to imagine that there were quite a few other people helping her out as this is full of instrumentation (drums, upright bass, saxophone, digiridoo, flute and probably more that I don’t even know the names of) as well as male vocals on a few of the songs. One of the downsides to downloading music is that there’s no liner notes from which to reference and I can’t find any credits for this album online beyond Diane’s.
Let’s get down to the musical content. Nearly every piece of music is punctuated by vocals of some manner; tribalesque bellowing (trust, me it sounds better than I worded it), chanting, reverbed shouting, talking, singing, laughing, maggie nicols-like wailing and maja ratkje-like vocal noisery (on the spot improvisational spelling by me). The music is just as diverse as the vocals. The most unexpected moment comes in at track number thirty-four, À tout seigneur, toute horreur, which is a charming piece of thrash rock that’s cut up, panned and otherwise manipulated with fantastic results. Going back to the Henry Cow influence, the shadow of that group’s unrest can certainly be felt looming over some of Petit. In a gross summation of sounds, there’s jazzier numbers, mellower and sparser ones, noisy passages, atmospheric music as well as some upbeat rockers to be found throughout the disc and it’s all expertly balanced. That balance is just as important as the music is, especially when you consider the amount of tracks versus the amount of time allotted for them. There’s no feeling of heaviness anywhere or segmentation, but there is a nice sense of flow.
For me, Petit traité de sagesse pratique is an overwhelming success. If there were to be impasses in anyone’s enjoyment of it, I’d say that they would lie with the vocals; however, the tracks that I might be tempted to call questionable are few and far between and in most of the situations the music itself really elevates, not just accentuates, the vocals anyway.
avant gardening in smooth assailing