Castor et compagnie: Mets ta langue

Joane Hétu

… excellent solo and group vocals… Audion, UK

… Hétu launches into a warm inviting world of bodies at rest and play, entwined and making beautiful musique. Exclaim!, Canada

For the last six years, Joane Hétu, formerly of Justine and countless other Montréal-based groups, has been directing the Castor et compagnie ensemble, a group devoted to exploring vocal musical forms. They are now offering us their second album titled “Mets ta langue.” (litterally, “Put your tongue”)

What to expect: erotic songs, love songs, french songs, spoken songs, uncool, intelligent, touching songs, tumultuous and lively; improvisations to sing along to… A warm repertoire of honeylike sound, with bite, sweat, noise and poetry.

A vocal tutti celebrating love, eroticism and life.


  • Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
  • AM 062 / 1998
  • UCC 771028106226
  • Total duration: 58:38
  • Jewel case
  • 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
  • 105 g


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In the press


Nick Mott, Audion, no. 42, March 1, 2000

A quartet making a very avant-garde music. Melodies and abstraction collide to wonderful effect. This is based a lot around the excellent solo and group vocals, incidentally Mets ta langue meansput your tongue”, and some of the song oriented pieces reminded me of the Art Bears, with a similar attention to simplistic/complex detail. I prefer the more obviously structured parts, yet there great instances when the vocals descend into abstract sound alongside theManipulation de cassettes”, and free-jazz parts.

… excellent solo and group vocals…


Spike Taylor, Exclaim!, May 1, 1999

Joane Hétu is always interesting to check out. and if you don’t know this longtime member of the Ambiances Magnétiques collective, Mets ta langue is her at her most compositionally and sexually promiscuous. With the castors - Jean Derome, Diane Labrosse and Pierre Tanguay - Hétu launches into a warm inviting world of bodies at rest and play, entwined and making beautiful musique. Uncategoriseable, except to say this is some steamy meditation on the meeting of Hétu’s musical mind and her sexual self - check this one out and come in out of the cold to warm hands all over an alto sax and somehow, all over the listener.

… Hétu launches into a warm inviting world of bodies at rest and play, entwined and making beautiful musique.


Richard Moule, Exclaim!, May 1, 1999

Mets ta langue is a perfect bridge between the above records. Derome, Pierre Tanguay and Diane Labrosse offer their flexible vocal and instrumental prowess to Hétu’s deliciously erotic lyrics (which also come with English translations). But there is nothing gratuitous here to these slightly whimsical takes on sex. In fact, if anything there is a rigorous muscularity to this pan-stylistic record. And there are Hétu’s earthy vocal acrobatics and the rest of the ensemble’s spirited vocal support, which gives the album a carnival-like atmosphere.

… Hétu’s earthy vocal acrobatics and the rest of the ensemble’s spirited vocal support gives the album a carnival-like atmosphere.


Frank Rubolino, Cadence, no. 25:3, March 1, 1999

Joane Hétu plays alto and sings on Mets ta langue (Ambiances magnétiques 62), an ambitious project combining multiple musical cultures. Her companions include Canadians Jean Derome (reeds, piano, small instruments, voice, and cassette manipulation), Diane Labrosse (sampler, accordion and voice), and Pierre Tanguay (drums and voice). The music has many dynamic highs of freely expressed instrumentation intermixed with vocal parts. The four create full-bodied sound at high volume levels that has punch and drive (Mets ta langue / L’eau du puits / Beauté / Le travail des animaux / Dans la joie l’amour / Un bout de papier / Mes odeurs preférées / Ben satisfaite / Ta maniere. 58:38). Multi-instrumentalist Derome is a powerful force on the recording, being reunited with Tanguay who propels furiously as the driver. Derome, a very talented and original artist, is a forceful blower when ignited, but he also shows a delicate and sensitive side here. The vocal segments, done principally in French with many sexual overtones, take on the fomm of operatic theater, being inserted in chant fomm that mixes smoothly into the oftenboisterous music. It is a pint effort, with everyone involved in the story telling while simultaneously generating the spirited instrumentation. Hétu also uses vocal utterances that blend into Labrosse’s accordion tones in unique fashion. The entire presentation from this talented foursome is a diverse approach to collective creativity of Jazz and theater.

… a diverse approach to collective creativity of Jazz and theater.


Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigée, no. 39, March 1, 1999

Ce n’est pas vraiment Sade, mais les textes sont bien osés, délicieusement érotiques et ils auraient bien entendu convenus à Justine. Joane Hétu a préféré se les garder pour elle et son groupe.

Gémissements et râles mais aussi d’autres délires vocaux sont ainsi au rendez-vous d’une musique fortement structurée et puissante, qui mêle l’humour et la tendresse mélodique à des effets bruitistes issus d’une pratique d’improvisation sonore qui caractérise de plus en plus le collectif québecois.

… une musique fortement structurée et puissante, qui mêle l’humour et la tendresse…


Chris Blackford, The Wire, no. 180, February 1, 1999

Like Castor et Compagnie, her debut trom 1995, Joane Hétu’s second solo album, Mets ta langue, presents a variety ot stylistic activity. Once again Derome, Tanguay and Diane Labrosse are on hand to supply solid instrumental and vocal support. And this time Ambiances Magnétiques have included English translations to Hétu’s lyrics, some of which explore earthy eroticism with a pinch ot whimsy: “I love offering you my breasts like two juicy sweet melons that only wet your lips and stain your sweater,” Hétu sings on the folk-like L’eau du puits. The three part Beauté recalls Rock In Opposition style avantism with room for acerbic improvising, while Mes odeurs préférées, highlights Hétu’s vocal flexibility as she slides nonchalantly between throaty abstracton and conventional song. An attractive album full of unexpected turns and vibrant performances that make light work of the structural complexity.

An attractive album full of unexpected turns and vibrant performances…


George Zahora, Splendid E-Zine, January 11, 1999

Compared to many other Ambiances Magnétiques releases, there’s a good deal more content on Mets ta langue that could fall under the mainstream definition of “music” — this is an ensemble (which counts Jean Derome, Diane Labrosse and Pierre Tanguay among its other members) that creates songs. It might also surprise listeners that rather than being, let’s say, complex aural meditations on the sonic interactions between certain rare gases that meet every few hundred years during odd phases of planetary orbits, the lyrics (they’re more poems, really, but who’s counting?) here are about love, sex and human interaction — they’re earthy and passionate, sometimes almost explicit, full of life and love and lust and human energy. Those of you who read enough French to realize that the title translates as “Put your tongue” might get some advance notice of this — otherwise, it’ll have to be a pleasant surprise. There’s still a lot of non-traditional soundplay — dischordant wind instruments, for instance, in the three movements of Beauté, an assortment of imitated animal sounds on Le travail des animaux, all manner of oddities on the exceptionally evocative Mes odeurs préférées — but likewise witness the more musical, thoroughly rousing Un bout de papier, which sounds like it was torn directly from a Brecht/Weill performance. After a few listens — especially when armed with the translated liner notes — you’ll not only appreciate Mets ta langue, but become increasingly immersed in the warmly human sensory aura it creates. In other words, this is a good recording to connect to.

… a good recording to connect to.


Ireneusz Socha, Studium, no. 15-16, January 1, 1999

Joane Hétu is a woman who fulfills herself in various ways: as a mother (two daughters), as a manager (she directs the independent label) and as an artist (composer, librettist, saxophone player and singer). Consequently, whatever she does has a lot of positive energy in it — influxing from the self-realization and self-confidence in a good sense. Her overall message is positive and well balanced: woman’s (over-) sensibility and man’s strength in equal amounts. In her home Montréal Joane belongs to the globally unique community of musicians who have joined forces in pursue of a non-commercial artistic music. Joane’s label gives them a chance to earn a living by playing what they like.

This is her second solo album. As previously, we can hear all musical obsessions of hers thriving on the crossroads between strict composition and free improvisation. Hétu seems to treat her favorite musical styles just like attires and decorates them with her special patches and scraps. And every little thing she is wearing suits her. Joane can persuade us that her setting of the ritual music of Native Canadians, experimental rock, shanties, ballads, sound explorations and non-idiomatic improvisation is intelligent and beautiful. It is worth mentioning that Hétu perceives beauty quite differently than, let us say, Céline Dion. When you are always pleasant and meek you are lying. Beauty has something to do with your life courage and the drive for improving your sensibility and knowledge. Joane also sings of her love experiences, but again uniquely and contrary to our presumptions. No pseudo-inspired let-us-make-love-now easy atmosphere here. No cheap pornography either. Hétu is a mature woman and she opts for the immediate and (some hypocrites would even say–shocking) lyrical description of erotic loving. However, she always manages to control the whole thing within the good taste. Her voice also tells us stories of some moving emotions, friendship, bringing up kids, getting together to overcome everyday problems. No censorship, but no assault either.

This is music for listeners who like to express and receive strong feelings. It is full of fervor. The passion reflects itself in the cover design of wooden sculptures styled after Native American housewares.

Compared to the continually dehumanized and stupid music of recent years, every sound of Joane Hétu seems as a touch of somebody close and beloved. A must at any price.

This is music for listeners who like to express and receive strong feelings. It is full of fervor. …every sound of Joane Hétu seems as a touch of somebody close and beloved. A must at any price.


Margen, no. 16, January 1, 1999


Vincent Collard, Ici Montréal, October 29, 1998

Joane Hétu et son band continuent là où ils avaient laissé. Une musique polymorphe, anarchique, festive, où tous les styles se mélangent pour former un amalgame toujours organique. On y raconte l’amour, la sensualité, le sexe, parfois crûment, parfois en laissant mijoter un peu… mais avec une originalité et une sincérité dans le propos qui touchent souvent la cible. Par rapport au premier album, on note un net progrès sur le plan musical: l’ensemble se tient, a une direction, une cohérence qui manquaient parfois. À suivre.

Une musique polymorphe, anarchique, festive…

Hétu, Derome et ses Zhoms

Mathieu Fournier, Montréal Campus, October 21, 1998

Sur Mets ta langue, Joane Hétu, accompagnée de son collectif, Castor et Compagnie, impressionne par ses compositions plus personnelles. Loin d’être naïves, les 11 chansons d’amour qu’elle propose dépeignent un univers sensuel et corrosif à la fois, comme toutes les grandes passions.

… un univers sensuel et corrosif à la fois, comme toutes les grandes passions.

Jours fastes!

Serge Truffaut, Le Devoir, October 10, 1998

Joane Hétu est saxophoniste. Elle joue de l’alto. Elle chante ses mots. Et elle compose. Elle est également la patronne… C’est mal dit, ça! Mettons que Joane Hétu est l’animatrice du groupe Castor et compagnie. Castor, c’est elle et Derome aux saxos et aux voix, c’est également Diane Labrosse à l’accordéon, l’échantillonneur et les voix, ainsi que Pierre Tanguay à la batterie et aux voix. Tous ensemble, ils ont joué et chanté les compositions de Hétu d’abord, de Derome ensuite. Le résultat s’intitule Mets ta langue, comme dans métalangage. Mettons que c’est la métaphysique de l’amour brut. De-que-cé? On n’en sait rien.

Bon. Joane Hétu… Jean Derome… Les deux sont donc saxophonistes, auteurs,compositeurs.


Nicolas Tittley, Voir, October 8, 1998

Joane Hétu se montre beaucoup plus pertinente dans les chansons qu’elle élabore pour Castor et Compagnie, quatuor au sein duquel travaillent egalement Derome, la «sampleuse» Diane Labrosse et le batteur Pierre Tanguay. Mets ta langue (au propre et au figuré), c’est onze chansons d’amour et de cul qui caressent et griffent, pleurent et suent, crient et susurrent. L’esprit du disque est admirablement résumé dans la superbe trilogie Beauté, où l’on peut entendre Jean et Joane chanter «La Beauté, c’est pas c’qu’y’a de plus beau. C’est un mélange d’imperfections (…) de gestes, de hasards. 3,5/4


François Couture, AllMusic, July 1, 1998

In 1995 singer/saxophonist Joane Hétu released a CD titled Castor et Compagnie, which premiered her new avant-rock formation, the first after the dissolution of Justine. The title was promoted to the status of band name and the follow-up Mets ta langue (Put Your Tongue) was thus billed to both Hétu and Castor et Compagnie. This second offering persists in erotic themes, but this time incorporates more free improvisation and overall a more acoustic, warmer sound. The album’s magnum opus, the three-part Beauté, a reflection on the fact that beauty doesn’t always have to be beautiful, may very well be Hétu’s finest moment as a composer. The piece draws from sensual rhythms, avant-rock riffs and vocal parts from all four musicians to form one of the best tracks released on an Ambiances Magnétiques record in the late 1990s. Dans la joie l’amour has a strange vocal leitmotiv uttered by percussionist Pierre Tanguay throughout, over which ephemeral melodies are layered. The album ends on Ta manière, another very strong piece, sensual but also angular in the Justine tradition, an eight minute epic. Of course, Hétu’s voice is still a case of love-it-or-hate-it and, paradoxically, she is more convincing when using extended techniques then when she plainly sings, but the album also showcases the voices of Tanguay, saxophonist Jean Derome and keyboardist Diane Labrosse (who regularly graced some Justine and Wondeur Brass songs). Mets ta langue is impressively mature work and a delight for the aficionado of avant-gardist song writing. Strongly recommended.

Mets ta langue is impressively mature work and a delight for the aficionado of avant-gardist song writing.