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Jane and The Magic Bananas Jane and The Magic Bananas

In the September 2011 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, Julian Slitworky had a few good words about Jane and The Magic Bananas: “A strange trio indeed! How to describe this terrific mumbo-combo? Let’s try this: a free-exotica-rock band. This post-virtuosity improv trio seems made to change the rules of interplay. Who’s soloing? Who’s in charge of the beat? Who’s leading? Where do they come from? From the land of Conan the Barbarian, I suppose… All in all, their set at DNA showed powerful and weird musical interactions, and a continuous three-dimensional stream of medieval consciousness which undergoes a permanent displacement from point 1 to point 3, from point 2 to point 1, etc. A magnificent example of individual spirits that connect with vector, Achilles vs. Hector, qualities. It was a sharp Frazetta Fantasy soundtrack. A must see, a must hear. Jane and The Magic Bananas is Michel F Côté on drums, Sam Shalabi on guitar, and Alexandre St-Onge on electric bass.”

  • &records
  • ET 17 / 2012
  • Total duration: 34:56

Jane and The Magic Bananas

Jane and The Magic Bananas

Sam Shalabi, Alexandre St-Onge, Michel F Côté

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In the press

Improvisations expéditives

Luc Bouquet, Le son du grisli, November 1, 2012

Précepte cher à Glenn Branca, le petit jeu consistant à passer d’un apparent chaos à une transe évolutive, se retrouve plusieurs fois appliqué ici. Nous dirons donc que la guitare électrique de Sam Shalabi, la guitare basse d’Alexandre St-Onge et la batterie amplifiée de Michel F Côté œuvrent dans l’hypnotique et le dérèglement. Sachant s’échapper de la masse pour mieux faire bloc, nos trois sidérurgistes donnent aux sévices soniques quelques vives médailles: pièces courtes et déplumées, travaillant sur les micro-intervalles, souvent déphasées et grouillantes, elles prennent source dans la dissonance même. En ce sens, habitant un profond aven, impriment la douleur dans la chair d’une musique sauvage à souhait.

Sachant s’échapper de la masse pour mieux faire bloc, nos trois sidérurgistes donnent aux sévices soniques quelques vives médailles…

Heard In

Massimo Ricci, The Squid’s Ear, September 7, 2012

Shalabi’s electric guitar, St-Onge’s bass with electronics and Côté’s amplified drums swear to us that the improvisational momentousness defining other brave and more renowned trios is not lost yet. In the 35 minutes of Jane and The Magic Bananas they don’t seem to care too much about aesthetical laws: the interplay is often caustically cluttered and essentially introverted, although not completely deprived of elements of direct communication with the audience. The dynamic pendulum oscillates between elementary patterns as the basis of magnetic mutability (Jogging Along The Path Of El ’Gabar) and moments of arrhythmic emancipation, frequently scented with harmolodic essences (Young Men Share Excitement In Far Deep Tchoukotka and, especially, Mesa Verde’s Alien Sunset). Do not think that there’s no room for calmer types of investigation: In Which Jack’s Cruise Is Ended walks slowly, gradually, until the mounting tension produces an untidy heap of jarring intervals corroborated by soul-plaguing threats in deceivingly clumsy mechanisms.

It takes a while to realize that the initial perplexity elicited by the performers’ choices is in reality the reaction to a type of acoustic fractal geometry which needs to be taken as it is, in a warts-and-all kind of aural decontamination. No actual “beauty” to contemplate, no easy paths or tactful approaches. The instruments are played without surplus of fine-tuning — the quality of the respective timbres is, so to speak, brilliantly grubby — thus allowing the collective interaction to keep an uncomfortable edge perceptible throughout. This notwithstanding, the overall result is comparable to a short, solid fighter who — not endowed with huge technical and physical advantages — prefers a steady assault to the opponent’s body instead of an ineffective use of the jab. A distinct sense of compactness ultimately emerges from the energized discharges to warrant an affirmative verdict.

A distinct sense of compactness ultimately emerges from the energized discharges to warrant an affirmative verdict.


Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 18:1, September 1, 2012

Exemplars of a distinctive Québécois aesthetic called Musique Actuelle, the oddly named Jane and the Magic Bananas is actually a trio of male performers who during nine bizarrely titled improvisations confirm the links between Heavy Metal and Musique Concrète.

With Michel F Côté’s drums electronically amplified, plus Alexandre St-Onge extending his resonating double bass lines with self-controlled electronics, and electric guitarist Sam Shalabi moving from arena-rock-styled flanged distortion to intricate and off-centre note clusters the sonic result is as aleatoric as it is atmospheric. A tune like Passing the Gates of Shalmir-Keshtoum for instance, languidly contrasts electrically oscillated bass motion with drum clatters and ruffs; whereas staccato guitar runs plus heavy-gauge bass strings plucked and resonating for maximum physicality, meet nerve beats from the drummer on Gul Shah’s Hunchback Henchmen. Meanwhile among Côté’s seemingly random hits and rumbles on In Which Jack’s Cruise is Ended, Shalabi manages to weave dense chording and filigree licks in such a way as to sounds as if several guitarists are present. Most characteristically, each player appears to take off in a different direction on Third Invasion of the Swingsguord until cross-patterning drums, a slurred bass ostinato and distorted guitar licks combine for a sound eruption that makes Pierre Schaeffer’s pioneering Étude aux chemins de fer sound as hushed and primitive as liturgical plain song, while avoiding the blank nihilism of Hard Rock. If Jane and the Magic Bananas can be faulted, it’s that the three players don’t extend the humor implicit in their name and song titles to leaven some of the dense chiaroscuro-colored improvisations here.

… a sound eruption that makes Pierre Schaeffer’s pioneering Étude aux chemins de fer sound as hushed and primitive as liturgical plainsong…


Michele Coralli, Altremusiche, May 18, 2012

Musica sghemba per un trio dinocolato basso/chitarra/batteria, che per un’abbondante mezz’ora divaga senza possibili direzioni all’interno di un mondo sonoro abbastanza chiuso e claustrofobico. I tre negano dinamiche, fraseggi, strutture e disegni ritmico-melodici. C’è un continuo ripiegarsi su se stessi attorno a pseudo-pattern apparentemente casuali, che prendono il volo come un uccello chiuso in una stanza, le cui traiettorie rimbalzano da un punto all’altro senza conclusione. La chitarra di Sam Shalabi, sorda e monocromatica, è forse la maggior responsabile di questo “impaccio” linguistico. Da parte sua anche il basso di Alexandre St-Onge, cupo e azzerato nella determinazione di altezze facilmente identificabili, dà il suo contributo all’ottusità del panorama. Forse è proprio Michel F Côté a dare profondità di campo attraverso un drumming sempre molto ricercato, a-virtuosistico e per questo decisamente puntuale e azzeccato.

Jane and the Magic Bananas è una buona metafora sonora della realtà di oggi, chiusa in se stessa da competenze così straordinarie, da risultare inutili. Certamente competenze che non vengono messe in campo, ma nemmeno evocate. Il groviglio di suoni che conduce direttamente a uno sgabuzzino sembra un nuovo messaggio Fluxus, lanciato per dire a chi può entrare in contatto con questa musica che in certi momenti si può abbandonare tutto, per cercare davvero il senso del perché facciamo arte o del perché non possiamo farne a meno.

Listening Diary

François Couture, Monsieur Délire, March 16, 2012

On paper, it is tempting to approach Jane and the Magic Bananas as a variation on Klaxon Gueule. However, a first spin throws that away. It rather feels like a free form jam band. Tracks are short (nothing beyond five and a half minutes) and left relatively undefined — the whole album could be seen as a loose suite. I will have to revisit this one on a less frantic morning.

I will have to revisit this one


Frans De Waard, Vital, no. 823, March 12, 2012

The other release is by at least two musicians by whom we hear more music on the same label: Alexandre St-Onge on bass and electronics and Michel F Cote on amplified drums, along with Sam Shalabi on electric guitar. All three known from their experiment in improvised music, and here they do the same, but with a slight twist. It seems to me they are using the ’no wave/no new york’ format of a slightly more pop-like character, sans any vocals of course. Nervous hectic playing on all three instruments, but occasionally leaping into a bit of a rock mode, all in a very free reign of play. Jazzy also times, but not as much as one could all too easily think. Quite a vibrant and energetic release. Exactly the right Ultra spirit, but then from Montréal.

Quite a vibrant and energetic release.

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