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Portrait: Justine

François Couture, AllMusic, 15 juin 2002

Born out of the Montréal-based avant-rock group Wondeur Brass, Justine pushed further the ideals of challenging, thought-provoking feminist rock established in its previous incarnation for another ten years. The group released three albums during the 1990s and toured Canada, the United States,and visited Europe twice. Three of its musicians are members of the collective Ambiances Magnétiques, so the label released all their albums.

Wondeur Brass started as a sextet in the early ’80s. By 1987 the group had been scaled down to a quartet. Bassist Marie Trudeau had joined the three original members saxophonist Joane Hétu, keyboardist Diane Labrosse and drummer Danielle Palardy Roger. That line-up released Simoneda, reine des esclaves in 1987.

Upon starting work on a new opus in 1989, the girls decided it was time for a change. The new music taking shape was turning out to be more complex, intricate, and driven by a stronger will to improvise and make things interestingly dangerous. Thus Justine was born. The first album under the new name, (Suite), came out in 1990. It included guest appearances by Japanese singer Tenko and American harpist Zeena Parkins. In 1992, Hétu, Labrosse and Roger brought them back for a quintet project, La légende de la pluie. Although it doesn’t include Trudeau and sounds softer, more introspective, it can be considered as the second album by Justine. Around the same time the “real” quartet appeared on stage in an Ambiances Magnétiques showcase which yielded the live CD Une théorie des ensembles.

In early 1994 Justine toured Europe, visiting many former communist countries. Back in Montréal in June they recorded Langages Fantastiques “live in the studio” — the recording of (Suite) had stretched over ten months. After its release later that year things slowed down as group members focused on individual projects: Roger on the children tale L’oreille enflée, Labrosse on a solo album (La face cachée des choses) and a duo with Michel F Côté, Hétu on a new group called Castor et Compagnie. Justine stayed together for another three years and performed at the 1997 Ring Ring festival in Belgrade (Yugoslavia) alongside Ground-Zero, Palinckx, and Kampec Dolores (a previously unreleased song was included on the commemorative compilation Ring Ring 1997). After that tour the group disbanded. Hétu, Labrosse and Roger have continued to contribute to one another’s projects.

… Justine pushed further the ideals of challenging, thought-provoking feminist rock…

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