Adventures with Antoine. Ambiances Magnétiques’s Antoine Berthiaume proves he’s up to the task

Mike Chamberlain, Hour, January 11, 2007

Musicians in Montréal’s Ambiances Magnétiques orbit have historically been musical adventurers unconstrained by considerations of style (or the possibility of fame and fortune).

Guitarist Antoine Berthiaume is a relative newcomer to that circle, at least as far as recorded output goes. He has put out three albums in the last couple of years, but even within that number, one gets a sense of an artist committed to wide-ranging explorations.

Over the years he has benefited from the inspiration of the likes of Derek Bailey, Fred Frith, Jean Derome and especially Pierre Tanguay.

”Montréal is open in terms of so many things. I’ve been able to play with many older musicians just by calling them. Pierre Tanguay is the one who led me to so many different kinds of music. I started playing with him when I was about 19,” says the 29-year-old. “He got me into René Lussier, Jean Derome, Joane Hétu and Derek Bailey… That was how I ended up meeting Derek Bailey and doing my first CD,” he says, referring to Soshin, a set of improvised duos with Bailey and Frith.

Since then, Berthiaume has issued Leaves and Snows with Quentin Sirjacq and Norman Teale, as well as Ellen’s Bar with Michel Donato and Tanguay, pretty much a straight-up jazz outing.

Berthiaume prefers not to dwell on projects once they’re done, so it’s not surprising that he has three very different CD releases planned for 2007: Rodéoscopique, which he describes as folk/avant-garde/western; PantyTron, a duet with MaryClare Brzytwa from California on guitar, flute and electronics; and guitar duets with Elliott Sharp coming in September.

Next week you can catch Berthiaume in two settings. At Casa del Popolo he’s playing with drummer Robbie Kuster and bassist Morgan Moore (“It’s kind of jazz and rock, and it’ll be loud”), and after that he’s at Divan Orange with Donato and Tanguay.