Face cachée des choses

Diane Labrosse

This is what experimental music should be, but so rarely is—adventurous, imaginative, poetic and sensual, as it engages both the heart and mind of the listener. With Face cachée des choses Labrosse amply demonstrates that it is indeed, possible to make new music with old pots. Option, USA

… le flux de chuchotements, de mélodies cachées, d’insomnies et de mirages est époustouflant. ImproJazz, France

After taking part in countless groups and collaborations, it is now time for Diane Labrosse to present her first solo CD for Ambiances Magnétiques. With her digital sampler, she records sounds which are alternately crude and gentle, appealing and irritating. “Face cachée des choses” (“Hidden Side of Things”) hence becomes an inventory of appliances, a layout of tools, a bunch of objetcs, a series of mysterious, endearing treatments.

Travelling log, solitary walks, evenings of euphoria, peaceful nights, moments of anxiety, ordinary afternoons, a touch of exhibitionism and a bunch of frogs. A user friendly music, electrodomestic, organic organs, small animal ensembles, unknown soloists…

“Like the turtle, I work slowly and carry my house around with me. I have put it all on this record, but without the piano, no musical instruments. Only a hidden side of things.”

CD (AM 036)

  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
  • AM 036
  • 1995
  • UCC 771028103621
  • Total duration: 44:31
  • Jewel case
  • 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
  • 105 g

On the web

Some recommended items
In the press

Chicks and Other Barnyard Fauna

François Couture,, September 16, 2003

With the notable exception of sugary pop, all music styles are dominated by the male. Whether he’s grunting into the microphone, strumming his guitar, or blowing his lungs out on the saxophone, the manly man monopolizes the image of the musician, be it in corporate rock or on the new music scene. When women venture into his domain, they are often coerced into fitting the mold of the industry.

That’s why it is so surprising to find this many creative, challenging, talented women in DAME’s catalog. But one should not forget that early in its lifetime the collective Ambiances Magnétiques welcomed three artists whose musical activities, organizing minds and determination provided a force of attraction for other women. Of course, I am talking about Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse and Danielle Palardy Roger.

Our three protagonists met at the turn of the ‘80s in Wondeur Brass and pursued their association into Les Poules and Justine. First an anarchist/feminist big band, Wondeur Brass was a laboratory to Joane, Diane and Danielle. They honed their skills — Joane, self-taught, literally learned to play music while playing music in it. Their own blend of modern poetry, free jazz and rock-in-opposition already took center stage on the LP Ravir. From the sextet featured on this first effort, the group scaled down to a quartet (with bassist Marie Trudeau as the fourth member) by the time of Simoneda, reine des esclaves. This line-up soon took the name Justine for three more albums (credited to the name of the individual musicians, La légende de la pluie can be seen as a collaboration between Justine, Zeena Parkins and Tenko) and the feminist discourse got gradually subsumed, making way for a growing playfulness that reached its peak on the phenomenal album Langages fantastiques.

Soon after the release of Langages fantastiques, the three girls launched their solo careers. Linguistic marvel and a rough delivery keep singer and saxophonist Joane Hétu close to the field of outsider art. First she formed her own group Castor et compagnie (with Labrosse, Jean Derome and Pierre Tanguay) which has recorded two albums of sensual and twisted songs in direct relation to Justine’s music. Later she turned to improvisation, first in a duo with her life partner Jean Derome as Nous perçons les oreilles (We Pierce Ears) and later solo with the intensely intimate album Seule dans les chants. She recently proved her worth in large-scale composition with her marvelous Musique d’hiver.

Toward the end of Justine’s life, Diane Labrosse traded in her keyboard for a sampler. After a solo album, Face cachée des choses, a duo album with percussionist Michel F Côté (Duo déconstructiviste) and a guest spot in the latter’s group Bruire (on Les Fleurs de Léo), she wrote a piece for improvisers (Petit traité de sagesse pratique) before devoting her time to improvisation. Parasites (her ongoing collaboration with Martin Tétreault) and Télépathie (with Aimé Dontigny) show how it is possible to handle a sampler with grace and sensibility.

Since the disbanding of Justine, Danielle Palardy Roger’s discography has been growing slowly — she’s very busy organizing concerts as head of Productions SuperMusique. Her children’s tale L’oreille enflée (featuring the voices and instruments of Derome, Hétu and André Duchesne among others) speaks to a young audience with an intelligence too rarely found in such projects. And Tricotage, her improv session with French bassist Joëlle Léandre, reminds us how refined her drumming can be.

In 1986, Joane, Diane and Danielle took a vacation away from Wondeur Brass to investigate the limits of the pop song format under the name Les Poules — The Chicks (Contes de l’amère loi, freshly reissued). Recently they reformed the trio, this time pushing the music toward a form of improvisation rich in subtle textures, blending quiet noise, active listening, and lyricism. Prairie orange is the first effort from this awaited return to collective work.

The presence within Ambiances Magnétiques of these three creators has attracted to the label other female artists with similar interests. The first one to join the roaster was Geneviève Letarte, who has recorded two beautiful albums of poetic songs (Vous seriez un ange and Chansons d’un jour). Lately, DAME’s catalog has welcomed performer Nathalie Derome, guitarist Sylvie Chenard, pianist Pui Ming Lee, along with Queen Mab members Lori Freedman and Marilyn Lerner who each delivered a solo album (À un moment donné and Luminance).

So, is musique actuelle a man’s world? Listen to these few hints and you’ll see for yourself.


Fernando Magalhäes, Quarta-feira, January 8, 1997

Diane Labrosse, fazendo jus ao seu nome de caçadora, não hesita em avançar tão longe quanto possivel na experimentação e na sedução do som pelo som. Face cachée des choses, primeiro trabalho em solo absoluto da sua autoria, é uma armação sinfónica para “sampler” e gravações de fita, inventário de ruídos e músicas microscópicas, fommas biológicas e mecãnicas em evolução, etnomistificações, apontamentos de ornitologa, memórias traficadas pela informática. O sentido deste movimento em tomo das sambras sonoras das coisas poderá ser o do acaso e da sua ordem sobrenatural. Música que cura a doença dos Biota, música da música, reveladora do quotidiano como colagem, fomecendo estimulos renovados a cada audição.


Elizabeth Vincentelli, Option, no. 68, May 1, 1996
This is what experimental music should be, but so rarely is—adventurous, imaginative, poetic and sensual, as it engages both the heart and mind of the listener. With Face cachée des choses Labrosse amply demonstrates that it is indeed, possible to make new music with old pots.


ImproJazz, April 1, 1996
… le flux de chuchotements, de mélodies cachées, d’insomnies et de mirages est époustouflant.

Soundcheck Review

The Wire, no. 142, December 1, 1995
… it’s particularly refreshing to hear a composer working with concrète/electroacoustic techniques who still enjoys identifiable rhythm and melody, and linear development…


François Couture, AllMusic, June 1, 1995

A keyboardist who turned to the sampler in the early 1990s, Diane Labrosse offered with Face cachée des choses her first solo album. She crafted 13 pieces out of found sounds, mostly domestic or environmental. On a few tracks she added her felt voice or a simple keyboard part. Although this is a sampler album, it has very little to do with the deconstructionist approach of one Bob Ostertag, the roughness of Ikue Mori or even musique concrete. Labrosse’s music remains close to the song format, it feels like instrumental music made with anything but musical instruments. From tenderness (Nénuphar) to downright sillyness (Île de Pâques), Face cachée des choses unfolds like a collection of 13 poems. Each one of them conjures emotions, memories, reactions, but its meaning often lingers out of reach. Later Labrosse will release more substantial and experimental albums, such as the free improvisation trio Île Bizarre and the large-scale project Petit traité de sagesse pratique, but this one feels more intimate and surely is her most accessible CD. Think of it as a guilty pleasure between her work in the avant-rock groups Wondeur Brass and Justine, and her later efforts.

Think of it as a guilty pleasure…


Rafa Dorado, Margen, no. 4, January 1, 1995

More texts

  • Gert Kounon, Border Zone Zero, June 1, 1998