This CD contains some good moments, and I think that any fan of this music would be happy to own a copy. — Musicworks, Canada
The music is delicate, sometimes brittle but never flimsy… — Rubberneck, UK
The meeting of two sound-worlds, the drums and a double bass; loud behemoths that can assume a lace-like delicacy. Improvisational writing that just manages to keep intensity and fragility separated.
CD (AM 078)
- Label: Ambiances Magnétiques
- AM 078
- UCC 771028107827
- Total duration: 41:32
- Jewel case
- 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
- 100 g
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In the press
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.
New-musicians have taught us the valuable lesson that good music can be made with any sound, even those that were never meant to be made on a musical instrument. It might be argued that new genres of music are born when musicians take an object and make it produce new-musical sounds; witness hiphop and the advent of turntablism, or the multiphonic saxo phone playing of the ’60s American jaz avant-garde. Joëlle Léandre and Danielle Roger show that this tradition of innovation is alive and well, and Tricotage documents their recent effort Fans of Léandre won’t be disappointed Recordings like Tricotage show why she is and will continue to be one of the most outstanding contrabass players in any style of music. She consistently displays a well-developed personal vocabulary on the contrabass and puts it to good use.
The album is rather short, at fortyone minutes of free improvisation between Léandre and Roger. Léandre-ites will immediately recognize her style pizzicato, voice-like attacks mixed with often gritty arco work. Roger takes a complementary approach—she chooses to avoid loud, disruptive events like rim-shots and squeaking snare drumheads, and instead uses small bells, a lot of brush work, very occasional cymbals, and a constant trickle of mezzo-piano chatter on the middle drums. This approach is successful because it allows Roger to evoke rich textures without overwhelming the acoustic contrabass.
The flrst seconds of the recording will give the listener a teste of what is to come. Roger uses brushes to create tension by playing a sort of drum roll for a few moments, and then the release comes when Léandre enters with her sig nature chattering bass. The highlight for me is track three, Come on on on on, where it all comes together in a delicate five-minute conversation between snare drum and bass.
Each track features a different side of Léandre and Roger’s playing. Track four might be called “squeaky and plucky” and track five “nice classical bowing. “ The sixth track seems dedicated to the evocation of anxiety and its release, and the seventh to a jarring rhythmic theme. The CD ends with a brief vocalese discourse by Léandre, framed by Roger drumming.
This CD contains some good moments, and I think that any fan of this music would be happy to own a copy. Among works by Léandre, I would definitely rate it as one of the better recordings because of the role that texture plays. Roger’s restraint allows for a great deal of artistry and joy to come out. The best thing for me was to discover Danielle Roger. Not being familiar with the creative music scene in Canada, I have never heard Roger play and after hearing Tricotage, I hope to hear more of her.
In stark contrast, Tricotage is stylistically settled and explores in detail a single area of the improvising spectrum. A consummate piece of improvisation, Léandre and percussionist Roger show a level of awareness of each other that is enviable, interacting as they do in almost effortless dialogue. Each of the nine splendidly crafted pieces has a distinct identity but is connected by a unity of purpose and approach. The music is delicate, sometimes brittle but never flimsy, contrasting a range of restrained almost understated sounds with more positive gestures. Léandre’s arco playing can often be poignant, even heart-rending but she is equally capable of producing a smile on her listener’s face with playful and even throwaway gestures.
Two CDs of improvised music from the eminent Canadian label Ambiances Magnétiques.
The first is a meeting place for two accomplished improvisers and composers, Joëlle Léandre on double-bass and Danielle Palardy Roger on drums and percussion. Both artists have extensive discographies exploring a wide range of musical styles, and this is the first time they are working together. The music on this disc is challenging and complex. The double-bass is grating and hyperactive; the percussions flutter through the pieces as if on wings. Together these two elements create an incongruous mass of much vigour and skill… My desire though was to have the percussion become more prominent in the pieces — something that is accomplished quite nicely on coupes blanches for example. But on this piece and a handful of others there are vocal outbursts and chants by Joëlle that I feel the pieces could do without; the voice takes away from the immediacy of these explorations. But it is clear there is much passion and energy in these performances; listening to the recording makes me long to hear these performances live, where I feel this music would be better appreciated by its listeners.
Léandre is very much at home in the duet setting having used this format on several recent recordings with different partners and instrumentation. On, she and drummer Roger speak in very personal tones that bring out the esthetic beauty of their two instruments. Léandre initiates the action with a vigorous display of arco playing, to which Roger simultaneously responds with a deft, sensitive drum touch. Roger uses bells cymbals, and other percussion devices to establish a serene mood. This state is temporary for she becomes more aggressive in response to the physicality displayed by Léandre. The bassist moves gracefully from bowing to plucking and back again, projecting hugely rich tones containing muscular strength and power. In step, Roger shrouds the output with quickly emerging splats of brush and stick work to set a galloping pace for the two women.
The program consists of nine exercises in bass/ drum intercommunication. Either artist is likely to set the direction. On Jeux de mains, Roger uses her hands and palms to rub abrasive textures into the song, which causes Léandre to become somewhat percussive herself as she aggressively taps the strings The rhythm patterns are not completely atonal. An occasional tangible beat will suddenly emerge and then flee as quickly as it appeared. On au clair de lune, Léandre plays a mournful strain while Roger is in complete contrast with spontaneous and rapid spitfires of sound. Throughout, the music is cloaked in density and weightiness. The foreboding overtones give way to hopefulness and then recede back in an undercurrent of darkness. Léandre vocally injects the spirit of the Native American on Coupes blanches, and the ethnic beat of Roger matches. These duets represent two very talented artists. painting a formidable picture of intense audibility. There is no need for any other instrument on this set. Léandre and Roger say it all.
Première rencontre? Rien ne nous l’indique, si ce n’est cette force des premières fois, tellement perceptible ici. À Joëlle la terre, l’enracinement, le terreau constructif. À Danielle la fausse fragilité, la légèreté céleste. L’une navigue entre jazz affranchi, improvisation radicale et musique contemporaine. L’autre surfe entre rock d’avant-garde, musique improvisée et conte musicale. L’une est autodidacte, l’autre pas. L’une voyage beaucoup, l’autre moins. Mais de cela, l’auditeur n’a cure et il a raison. Pas de spectaculaire ici mais de la présence avant tout. L’archet rapide, les balais tournoient, Joëlle cite un clair de lune, un chant tribal indien surgit, l’imprévue s’invite, ce vieil inattendue est encore au rendez-vous. C’est l’histoire des rencontres, des combats menés contre vents et marées. C’est l’histoire des décalages horaires, des fatigues et des courbatures. C’est l’histoire d’une musique (et de ces musiciens) qu’aucun marchand ne pourra jamais pervertir. C’est la rencontre de deux musiciennes qui jouent et tissent ensemble. Nous en sommes ici les témoins privilégiés.
Tricoter: 1. remuer vivement les jambes pour courir, pédaler… 2. battre… 3. une maille à l’endroit, une maille à l’envers… il y a un peu de tout cela: en guise de guibolles ou d’aiguilles, une contrebasse et des percussions.
Tricoteuses: 1. personnes qui tricotent. 2. surnom donné pendant la révolution française aux femmes qui assistaient aux séances de la Convention et/ou de la machine à Guillotin. On se rappelle les fameuses tricoteuses que furent, il y a une quinzaine d’années, Lindsay Cooper, Maggie Nicols et, déjà, Joëlle Léandre (cf. Live at the Bastille). Revendication politique liée au FIG (Feminist Improvising Group)?
Y a-t-il ici une quelconque revendication? Sinon celle de deux musiciennes de se retrouver et de nous communiquer quelques instants tissés avec force et délicatesse dans une laine brute?
Enregistré à Montréal, cette knitting factory de poche subit aussi l’influence locale, en nous invitant à une sorte de rituel indien, invocation aux forces naturelles (coupes blanches).
In May 1999, French bassist Joëlle Léandre was in Montréal for a concert and a recording session with drummer Danielle Palardy Roger (ex-Justine, Les Poules, Wondeur Brass). The result of this encounter was released in early 2000 by Ambiances Magnétiques under the tittle Tricotage (Knits), a feminine title for an album soaked in feminine sensibility. The two improvisers make one with their instruments, Léandre letting sighs and moans escape along the way (like on the beautiful Knit One, Purl Three). The pretentiousness found on Ambiances Magnétiques releases from the same period is absent on this CD; the music goes down to the roots of improvising, taps into the unconscious: a bass that can sound like a drum playing with a delicate drum set that could almost sound melodious. Tricotage is a very organic record, quite sensual at times, and makes an enjoyable listen.
In more challenging, avant garde Joëlle Léandre and Danielle Palardy Roger join on Tricotage (DAME). The pair’s instrumentation is double bass and percussion. The bass squeaks, taunting the percussion hydra kit drum beside it. The two instruments engage in a witty repartee throughout the album in a new vocabulary. Here the bass and percussion instruments become light and bird-like, star-like.
Sto pensando da tempo a un anticolo su Joëlle Léandre, ogni approccio viene però scoraggiato dalI enorme moie e varietà di situazioni attraversate dalla contrabassista francese - improvvisatrice con Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, George Lewis, John Zorn… oltreché raffinata interprete di John Cage.
Giacinto Scelsi… Un’attitudine a 360˙ che oltretutto ha dato sostanza a una produzione come mimmo interessante. Un nuovo colpo alle mie velleità viene ora dato da questa coIlaborazione con la percussionista francofono-canadese Danielle Palardy Roger 11 background delle due strumentiste trova sistemazione in 9 improvvisazioni dove la cerebralità gnumosa della musica contemporanea, improwisata e non. si disfà via via in straniati attimi di melodia e ritmo, fino alle premonizioni ritualistico-iniziatiche di Coupes blanches e ai 59 secondi, tutti cageani. Della conclusiva Derniere minute,
Tricotage è un dovere per coloro che già rimasero impigliati nella rete tesa dall ammaliante contrabbassista, e un ottimo inizio per tutti i neofiti. Ma stiano attenti gli ultimi, e si ancorino ben bene alla realta. perche e arduo sfuggire atle lusinghe di tali Sirene; okay, al plurale, perché sarebbe ingiusto ignorare il contributo dato dalla Roger, la cui concezione del “drumming” soffice fresca moderna faniasiosa e contraltare perfetto alle scorribande della contrabbassista. (7)
Aptly titled, ‘knitting’ is what occurs in this meeting between bass virtuoso Léandre and percussionist Roger (formerly of Québec’s Wondeur Brass) Léandre’s technique is awesome, Rogers approach is more basic and intuitive They mesh nonetheless, the relationship takes preecedence. The sustained interweaving very occasional y suggests that welding as well as crochet is an option available to both players.
Danielle Palardy Roger est percussionniste et Joëlle Léandre, contrebassiste, et toutes deux sont d’inclassables solitaires vouées à la musique improvisée. À première vue, tout cela pourrait paraître bien austère. Un dialogue contrebasse-percussion n’a rien de très bandant en soi. Mais ces filles savent aussi que pour bien tricoter, il faut faire plus que jouer à une maille à l’endroit, une maille à l’envers et embrouiller savamment les fils. Léandre, qui a promené sa basse sur la terre entière, a fait de son instrument un véritable prolongement de sa personne et sait de toute évidence en tirer quelque chose. Le résultat est énergique et donne un exemple éloquent de ce que peut provoquer la rencontre réussie entre deux personnalités musicales franches. 8/10
Un duo contrebasse-batterie qui s’offre comme une rencontre que l’on imagine volontiers explosive. L’explosion résulte pourtant moins de la confrontation de ces deux instruments aux sonorités profondes que de l’intensité qui se noue peu à peu, au fil des improvisations entre les deux musiciennes. Joëlle Léandre et Danielle Palardy Roger ont en commun un goût pour la musique contemporaine et pour les expériences diverses et renouvelées. Ce socle leur permet de s’aventurer avec délices dans les méandres de la création improvisée. Le jeu évolue avec émotion et en échange continuel. L’attention à l’autre est ici le maître-mot. Tricotage: le titre évoque, à lui seul, l’impression laissée par l’écoute de cet album. La musique à la fois chatoyante, pleine de subtilité et parfois comme suspendue, effleure un hypnotisme qui nous enivre et nous délecte.
- Nick Mott, Audion, no. 43, September 1, 2000