Eugene Chadbourne, René Lussier

… they definitely push each other to the edge of psychedelic absurdity more than once before stopping back from the precipice — with just enough dissonance… Coda Magazine, Canada

Les guitares heureuses n’ont pas peur des gros sons de bois, ni de l’électricité: ça tape du pied, ça gratouille et ça crépite. JazzoSphère, France

CD (VICTO 084)

  • Label: Victo
  • VICTO 084
  • 2002
  • UCC 777405008428
  • Jewel case
  • 125 mm × 142 mm × 10 mm
  • 90 g

On the web

In the press

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.


Mike Chamberlain, Coda Magazine, November 1, 2003

Not too many country albums get reviewed in these pages, and not too many country acts perform at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV). And it was indeed a performance of country music that took place when Chadbourne and Lussier appeared at Victoriaville’s Cinema Laurier during the 2002 edition of the FIMAV.

But we all know that country music or, more accurately, Appalachian and Québécois folk music — lies at the heart of Chadbourne and Lussier’s work, no matter what the context. For those who love virtuosic country guitar and banjo picking, this album is a treat. The surprise is that the duo play things as straight as they do, though they definitely push each other to the edge of psychedelic absurdity more than once before stopping back from the precipice — with just enough dissonance to keep the Nashville types at arm’s length.

Also included on the album is music recorded live in Paris in 1999, the only other time the two had played together as a duo. L’Oasis of the title is the name of an Algerian restaurant in Montreuil, near the hotel the pair stayed in at the time. The pieces from the Paris performance are jagged bursts of electric distortion that appear to serve as interludes among the Victo country tunes. This may or may not have been the intention, but the Victoriaville performance seems like the focus of the album.

… they definitely push each other to the edge of psychedelic absurdity more than once before stopping back from the precipice — with just enough dissonance…


Eric Normand, JazzoSphère, March 1, 2003

Les amateurs de guitares peu conventionnelles ne pourront passer à côté de cette rencontre étonnante entre deux maîtres des cordes, spécialistes à la fois de l’improvisation libre et des musiques traditionnelles de l’Amérique: folk, country swing, bluegrass… Enregistré dans deux contextes bien différents: un concert «free» à Paris en 1998 et un second «avec quelques jours de préparation chez René» à Victoriaville en 2002 (Festival International Musique Actuelle Victoriaville), L’oasis tire avantage de ces deux facettes. À Paris, ils sont en liberté totale: bruitisme, textures et brisures viennent donner une réplique rugueuse et spontanée à la partie de plaisir du FIMAV. Les pièces tirées du concert de Victoriaville sont des reprises de thèmes country, blues, et folk que les deux guitaristes (Chadbourne joue aussi du banjo) prennent un plaisir fou à laisser déraper, rendant ces pièces simples tout à fait vertigineuses, les traitant avec un humour (et une certaine rudesse) qui transpire du plaisir qu’ils ont à jouer, en plus de se faire le témoin d’une connaissance profonde des musiques traditionnelles et de la culture américaine. Les guitares heureuses n’ont pas peur des gros sons de bois, ni de l’électricité: ça tape du pied, ça gratouille et ça crépite. L’humour et la maîtrise permettent aux deux virtuoses excentriques d’interpréter des musiques qui, tout en étant harmoniquement simples, peuvent être le tremplin d’une improvisation créative et originale. Ce disque en est la preuve.

Les guitares heureuses n’ont pas peur des gros sons de bois, ni de l’électricité: ça tape du pied, ça gratouille et ça crépite.


Réjean Beaucage, Voir, no. 828, February 6, 2003

Un disque sur lequel on a eu la bonne idée de mêler des extraits de deux concerts bien différents donnés par Chadbourne et Lussier, le premier à Paris en 1998 et le second à Victoriaville en 2002. La première rencontre du duo était pratiquement improvisée, tandis que celle du FIMAV avait été précédée de plusieurs jours de répétitions. On a donc un agréable mélange dans lequel les deux guitaristes déversent, dans le désordre, du folklore bionique, une bonne dose d’humour, des jeux de guitares ou de banjo complètement tordus, une chanson de Doug Sahm sur Louis Riel, de la podorythmie et tout plein de bonne humeur. C’est en effet une véritable oasis dans un paysage «actuel» où l’on se retient trop souvent de simplement jouer de la musique.

… une véritable oasis…