Unless you speak French, information on this Montréal collective is hard to come by — but Fanfare Pourpour’s music is infectious and crosses all borders, regardless of your native tongue. Dating back to 1975, when nine of its members were in a group called L’Enfant Fort, this clique of talented musicians remains together for the pure pleasure of playing, picking up new members young and old along the way; they currently count 15 players of varying ages (22 to 70, in fact) and occupations among their ranks, all of them in ready to answer the call of duty when it comes.
Weaving a contagious web of horns, accordions and oompah band rhythms, Fanfare may initially remind you of a carousel ride, circus sounds flowing outward from the center hub to your ears as your wooden mount makes another lap. But this is no mere polka band; the group offers a subtle twist, with sweeping, sun kissed melodies and raucous bounce fashioned from old school cabaret tunesmithing, breathing new life into Europe’s hand-me-down sound. With so many instruments getting a word in at once, you’d be right to expect some sort of sonic traffic jam, but Fanfare Pourpour are a mini orchestra--everyone plays a carefully delineated role within the joyous, improv-leaning slice of mayhem. Some of the younger members have brought in new jazz styles, too; for instance, blazing trumpets with a John Zorn soul give La noce du brigand a skronking beatnik kick. The emotional payoff (a function of the occasional lyrics) is the icing on Le bal’s overall sound: their music is compelling enough to make young whippersnappers like us forget about rock and electronica for an hour or so.