À se procurer absolument… — Musicworks, Canada
… a delightful confusing mess. — N D - Magazine, USA
This variable formation here takes the form of a quintet of inventive musicians and composers. The five musicians are determined to make this a pleasant experience for both listeners and players.
As a result, the sounds on “L’âme de l’objet” (“The Object’s Soul”) show a mixture of diversions and substitutions, will and chance. The nine pieces were recorded live on the course of three days. On it, you can hear an evocation of the unforgettable Gelsomina, from Fellini’s film “La Strada”; rediscover the post-war Paris coffeeshop jazzy existentialism; follow the surrealist adventures of Mono; lose yourself in pious or pagan prayers. The choice is yours!
To allow sounds their own personality, poetic and bare naked. Unheard scratchbooks; a celebration of transition. This is where Bruire sits: in the middle of an overflowing desire of exploration.
CD (AM 034)
- Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 034 / 1995
- UCC 771028103423
- Total duration: 50:44
- Jewel case
- 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
- 115 g
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In the press
As we begin this series of articles on various catalogue-related themes, why not start with the hardest artist to pin down from the Ambiances Magnétiques collective: prolific and eclectic drummer Michel F Côté.
A late arrival to the Ambiances Magnétiques roster (joining in 1988), Côté readily put himself on the fringe of various geometrically variable groups. He could be heard for the first time in the debut Bruire album, Le barman a tort de sourire, a surprise box with no less than 14 guest musicians. Bruire is Côté’s very poetic project-group, in which he plays with the language of avant-garde, song and ambient music. This album launched a trilogy which continued in an increasingly mature vein with Les Fleurs de Léo, to end with the unforgettable L’âme de l’objet. This travelling in three steps has given us the chance to hear collaborators such as Geneviève Letarte, Jerry Snell, René Lussier, Ikue Mori, Claude St-Jean and Jean Derome, all of whom helped to feed our drummer’s fertile imagination.
More than six years passed before a new Bruire project could be heard, this one a very different beast: Chants rupestres, an improv quatuor with Jean Derome, Normand Guilbeault and Martin Tétreault. In fact, during these six years, Côté had been working on other projects which were increasingly more… deconstructed. The first sequels of this could be seen in a collaboration with Diane Labrosse, a slightly obscure CD purposely entitled Duo déconstructiviste. And if the first (double) album from his new project Klaxon Gueule, Bavards, was to sport a fairly recognisable “rock” energy, this project would soon see Côté at his most abstract.
The least we can say is that the release of Muets, a shiny minimalist jewel completely at odds with Bavards, would be a surprise to most listeners. One thing was for sure though, this new CD, released in 1999, was certainly more in phase with its era than the Duo déconstructiviste which was, in retrospect, perhaps too much in advance on its time. But this change was also due to the aesthetic evolution of doublebassist Alexandre St-Onge who, from a relatively “classical” playing, was to suddenly turn to a rather more conceptual approach towards his instrument. Côté and guitarist Bernard Falaise were thrilled to follow their bandmate in this new direction. Their latest album, Grain (recorded with Sam Shalabi and Christof Migone), confirmed this tendancy while pushing it even further into sophistication, making this work one of Côté’s most accomplished of his discography.
But the drummer did not stop there and reappeared where no one was expecting him. Thus, with Éric Bernier and Guy Trifiro, he created a new group, Bob, whose new disc, Unstable Friends, just came out. Under some fairly deviant and attractive cover artwork, a return to the bizarre “pop” music from Bruire’s beginnings is taking shape! We also heard through the grapevine that a new project called Mecca Fixes Clock (in which we can recognise the composer’s initials!) which could be described as orchestral ambient. Is Côté returning to his first loves?
If it isn’t so easy to give an overview of Michel F Côté as a musician, then that might be because his work goes beyond just music. In fact, one can often hear our protagonist at the theatre and in performance art, with such creators as Robert Lepage and Catherine Tardif. This aspect of his work finds its echo on Compil zouave, so far the only disc released under the composer’s name. We should also mention Côté’s previous involvement as a radioshow host at Radio-Canada amongst others, and his writing for contemporary arts magazine Esse.
Michel F Côté may best be seen as a kind of barometer of Ambiances Magnétiques’ creative activity throughout the years: from the song-form experiments of the 1980s through the peculiar lyrical impro-composition which was the signature sound of the AM catalogue in the 1990s, to continue with a more extreme form of improvisation, based on the physical existence of the instrument.
De toutes ces parutions j’avoue avoir été particulièrement séduit par celle du collectif Bruire. Après Le Barman a tort de sourire et Les fleurs de Léo, voici L’âme de l’objet. À l’exception de Michel F Côté qui en est le principal animateur, Bruire est une formation au visage changeant. Sur ce dernier-né on retrouve toujours Côté aux percussions qui, cette fois, s’est entouré de Serge Boisvert au chant et à la trompette, de Jean Derome aux instruments à vent, de Claude Fradette à la guitare et à la basse et de Martin Tétreault aux tourne-disques. Cette heureuse réunion a donc tout ce qu’il faut pour surprendre. Les percussions de Côté offrent des sonorités riches et sont employées de subtile façon. Messieurs Boisvert et Derome sont ici les auteurs de mélodies et de ritournelles des plus joyeuses. La basse et la guitare de Claude Fradette supportent d’intéressante manière cet ensemble devenant encore plus fou lors des interventions insoupçonnées d’un Martin Tétreault dont on savoure toujours l’inventivité. Le travail de Bruire s’inscrit à mon sens dans une tradition d’ensemble désireuse de mettre à l’avant-scène ce travail d’écoute et de dialogue poussant la musique vers un devenir se définissant dans l’acte même de l’exécution (peut témoigner de tout ceci la première plage du disque intitulée Les deux mégots). Résultat: des envolées rythmiques se dessinant comme des courses folles vers on ne sait où, des embarquées très prenantes sur fond de folklore (Prières), ambiances chaudes et ce je-ne-sais-quoi donnant à cette musique un air de fête. Le jeu des musiciens est tout simplement efficace, plein de ces surprises et de ces instants fous laissant apprécier toutes sortes d’agencements sonores d’un très grand intérêt. À noter également la beauté de certaines mélodies rappelant le monde du cirque (Gelsomina). Aussi, l’imaginaire propre au jeu émanant de la musique de Bruire reste tout de même d’une proximité étonnante avec le travail des Residents. À se procurer absolument lorsque vient le moment de rompre un tant soit peu avec les états d’âme trop objectifs. Animisme médicamenté que ce petit disque.
With L’âme de l’objet, percussionist Michel F Côté reached his artistic maturity, delivering his best achievement, at least with his project Bruire. For this third album, Bruire has really become a band, as the same group of musicians appear on every track: Jean Derome (sax, small instruments, flutes), Claude Fradette (guitars), Serge Boisvert (trumpet), Martin Tétreault (turntables) and Côté (drums, live electronics). Another change is the fact that the musical approach is now rooted in jazz instead of rock. Improvisation is now fully integrated to the writing. The music on L’âme de l’objet is strongly fed by Côté’s work for theater and dance performances, as it bears a remarkable plastic quality. One can feel the movement. All pieces (initially written by individual members and worked out by the whole band) are very atmospheric and often fitting a strange avant-gardist film noir mood, thanks mostly to the trumpet plus saxophone arrangements and Martin Tétreault’s remarkable performance (and highly original choice of LPs). Highlights include Les deux mégots (“The Two Cigarette Butts”) which opens the album with an excerpt from a “book-on-LP” version of Émile Zola’s sombre novel - L’Assommoir, Jean Derome’s slow-paced new-jazz number Prières (“Prayers”) and Joane Hétu’s Papillons de nuit, of which a version with vocals appears on her album Castor et Compagnie. The set of tray cards serving as a booklet also deserves mention for its artistic quality.
- Border Zone Zero, June 1, 1998
- Quarta-feira, January 8, 1997
- The Wire, no. 142, December 1, 1995