Ensemble SuperMusique’s first album, Canevas, came along in 2004 with the feeling of something like a holler. Nous sommes super!, they seemed to shout from Quebec. “We’ve been here making excellent records for years! Pay attention!” That may not have been the intention behind the name the group chose for itself, but with a membership including the cream of the Ambiances Magnetiques collective, the claim to “supergroup” status was founded.
It was a strong record, a montage of 12 improvisations by various subgroups of the octet and two compositions by saxophonist and vocalist Joane Hétu. But at the same time it had a bit of the feeling of a label sampler: a broad variety of material representing different aspects of the collective and the label it runs. For their second release, however, the ante has been upped. Y’a du bruit dans ma cabane is an impressive and cohesive album. Stripped down to an all-star sextet (Hétu, Jean Derome, Diane Labrosse, Danielle Palardy Roger, Pierre Tanguay and Martin Tétreault), they present here four compositions rather than a hodgepodge assemblage. Hétu’s 8 moments brefs follows a smart, indeterminate graphic score, opening the disc by allowing the band to display chops and wits. Percussionist Roger’s title piece, at 20 minutes, the longest track here, is another guided improvisation with a score following the floorplan of a house. Electronics composer Labrosse offers a delicate yet wide-ranging sound-song about the passing of time, and Derome, saxophonist and outdoor enthusiast, leads the group in a rollicking, abbreviated version of his Canot-camping, a piece conceived as a geography of songs, scores and improvisational strategies to explore.
But more important than the composer credits is the relationships these six musicians have built up over the last couple of decades. Their challenging approaches to contemporary composition and structured improvisation rely on the communal spirit upon which the collective is built, and never on an Ambiances Magnetiques record has that been more evident than on Y’a du bruit dans ma cabane.