16 years. It took Les Poules (“the chicks”) 16 years to record a follow-up to the 1986 LP Les contes de l’amère loi. Of course we can’t consider Prairie orange a true follow-up. Too much water has passed under the bridge and Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse and Danielle Palardy Roger have played together in too many projects to let the quantum jump between the two discs sound anything but natural - or even the same band. This opus, marvelously titled Prairie Orange, presents the three musicians engaged in intense quiet free improvising: no lyrics, no song structures. Roger’s angular beats on the first opus have been replaced by delicate percussion work reminiscent of Roger Turner or Paul Lovens at their quietest. Labrosse works her sampler in much the same way as in her duo Parasites with Martin Tétreault. Treated water sounds, electrical glitches and the occasional recognizable sample (like foghorns) play hide and seek with the scraped and brushed percussion and Hétu’s ghostly, hesitant alto sax. The latter vocalizes on half of the album, her quiet screams and wails as profoundly disturbing as ever - why? Because they sound utterly alien, all the while tapping into something atavistically human. Each piece has been carefully edited and shaped out of longer improvisations to produce a spellbinding set that knows when to stop (a few seconds short of 50 minutes). These three have been sharing stages for 20 years. They have reached a level of understanding, listening and complicity matched only by the best. Highly recommended.