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Au royaume du silencieux Les Granules

Les Granules: “We’ve been working together, composing, interpreting and improvising since 1978. We impose no stylistic restrictions on ourselves and believe that beauty can be had in the incongruous coming together of stories and ideas. Our collaboration has always been based on the work of the man-orchestra, the integration of sound tapes, an almost cinematographic vision of musical series and a broad stylistic field extending from improvised music to folk, and from contemporary music to rock.

Au royaume du silencieux is our third album. The pieces have been recorded in real time with no overdubbing. The resulting sound is rougher than our earlier records. Each composed or improvised piece was studiously restructured through collage. Slight differences in pulse, tuning as well as subtle shifts in tempo or from one recording to another, have been left evident rather than hidden thus creating a mosaic or quilted effect.”

Au royaume du silencieux

Les Granules

Jean Derome, René Lussier

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In the press

  • François Couture,, March 16, 2004
  • François Couture, AllMusic, October 1, 2000
    The result is very impressive as it takes the listener closer to the duo’s madness and one-of-a-kind sense of humor. […] this is their most accomplished and exciting record and may very well be the best record from all the Ambiances Magnétiques catalogue (especially for a non-francophone who can’t appreciate Lussier’s Le Trésor de la Langue to its full extent).
  • Lowlands, no. 2, March 1, 1993
  • Tom Bruwier, Revue & Corrigée, no. 14, September 1, 1992
    Le résultat est très proche d’un concert des Granules. À ne pas manquer.

Modern Folklore

François Couture,, March 16, 2004

When I was asked to dive into DAME’s catalog in search of intersecting points or recurring themes that would sketch discovery trails, the trad connection stood out immediately. Not only because of the importance of traditional folk music in the development of avant-garde music in Quebec, but also because the albums belonging to this line usually speak to us in a more immediate way and are easier to grasp.

It may seem a bit paradoxical, but tradition and innovation often go together hand in hand. When a culture’s avant-garde artists look for ways to overstep the rules of the music industry, they often turn their attention to roots — theirs and others — to find new paths to explore. Traditional folk music often holds at his core treasures of stylistic freedom and improvisation. Furthermore, its festive outlook can make it easier for an audience to accept and appreciate the introduction of new rhythmic, melodic or improvisational parameters. That’s what happened and continues to happen in Quebec. Here’s a listening trail in three parts, three original ways DAME artists approach the tradition: revisited, reinvented, and made-up folk.

Revisited folk

Late 1970s: a trad folk revival is sweeping the Province of Quebec, thanks to a new generation of musicians (groups like La Bottine Souriante, Le Rêve du Diable, and L’Engoulevent). Among these groups, many of which recording for the label Tamanoir, is a collective of crazy youngsters, guitarists who deprave reels and folk tunes with their melodic inventions and post-modern poetry. Among Conventum’s regular members are André Duchesne and René Lussier, who will later rank among the founding members of the collective Ambiances Magnétiques (sadly, Conventum’s two albums, À l’Affût d’un complot and Le Bureau central des utopies, are out of print).

In Ambiances Magnétiques, René Lussier has continued to explore a rereading of Quebec’s music history. His discography is peppered with folk tunes stripped naked and dressed anew. On his three albums with Les Granules (a duo with Jean Derome) he exaggerates the Dionysian character of the music (Le Boudin de Noël - or The Christmas Blood Pudding - on Soyez vigilants, restez vivants and La Chicaneuse on Au Royaume du Silencieux rank among the finest examples). With Le Trésor de la langue, he focused on our historical folklore, turning the words of René Lévesque, the FLQ, and people on the street into a new “Cahier de la bonne chanson” (a music book of old folk tunes that rested on the piano of many Quebec families in pre-television days). His recent collaboration with American guitarist Eugene Chadbourne signals a return to these roots — their CD L’Oasis released on Victo presents many revisited tunes from both sides of the border.

Reinvented folk

The folklore of a nation is not limited to a body of songs, it is also a state of mind, a substratum from which many artists in DAME’s catalog dig to reinvent our traditional folk music (and others too). On La Boulezaille, Pierre Tanguay and Pierre Langevin (masters of many European folk music in the group Strada) mix up traditional and modern instruments in search of a new, “actuel” folk freed from the cage in which all kinds of traditionalists would like to preserve it. Groups like Interférence Sardines and La Fanfare Pourpour shape their original pieces in ways that bring to mind the Devil’s fiddler or street fair music (music of the people, the prime definition of “folk” music). Joane Hétu’s Musique d’hiver doesn’t have that festive side to it, but it nevertheless redefines the folklore of our Quebec winters with much more precision and evocative strength then Nelligan’s famous poem.

Made-up folk

Traditional folk music refers to an instinctive form of music-making, music created outside the institutions and their codes, everyday music. And what if one wants to step out of the everyday? There is always the possibility to create folk out of nothing, to make folk-fiction. René Lussier and Robert Marcel Lepage establish their “musique actuelle” - a blend of free improvisation and reminiscences of trad - as the folk music of the future, the last enigma of a dehumanized world. The same goes for André Duchesne’s Les 4 Guitaristes de l’Apocalypso-Bar, the band being presented as trad rockers from the future (a post-apocalyptic future, mind you). And with Bruire’s Chants rupestres, Michel F Côté and his friends attempt to recreate through free improvisation the folk music of prehistoric men. We may have ventured far from the falsely naive tunes of Conventum, but this music still stems from a desire to go back to the roots of music expression. And in the end, there are many ways to call a square dance.


Lowlands, no. 2, March 1, 1993

De krulmels (Granules) zetten hun exploratie verder in het tweede deel, er valt immers steeds wat te ontdekken als men de rijkdom aan geluiden in kaart wil brengen. De verschillende stukken zijn steeds gestructureerd maar laten ruimte voor verassingen en improvisatie. Onlangs verscheen de derde opoame in de reeks onder de titel Au royaume du silencieux. In het rijk van de zwijgenden hebben de inwoners schrik om te praten, alweer een verwijzing near de immer woedende tealstrijd. Het duo nam deze CD live op in de studio. De resulterende klank is ongetwijfeld een stuk ruiger dan op de vorige platen. Maar nog steeds tulmelen we van de ene muzikale stijl in de andere en wordt er heel wat afgelachen. Moet er nog zand zijn!

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