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Robert Marcel Lepage: Canard Banchu & Le Lait Maternel (Ambiances Magnétiques, 2013)
January 28, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment
Robert Marcel Lepage: Canard Banchu
We received a huge package from Ambiances Magnétiques at the radio station recently, and these two titles by composer/woodwind player Lepage leaped out at me first. Canard Banchu features a gaggle of clarinets, along with some bass drums and organ. Mostly short tracks, only 3 are 4 or 5 minutes. The rest are little miniatures. Playful, concise, jovial, swinging, mysterious. I don’t speak French so I can’t read the liner notes or song titles, but this is accessible and fun, maybe not quite as ripe for cartoon soundtracks as Raymond Scott, but still kind of out there and kooky. But while some of it’s more light-hearted, there’s some serious haunted electro-acoustic manipulation on “Le Pelleteur de nuages”. “Rainettes a la brunante” is kind of a lazy New Orleans stroll, and has nice organ. “Fondation : d’ou venons-nous ?” has a sprightly little oompah to it. The other two “Fondation” pieces are also more kind of strolling tracks. Others are moodier, less rhythmic/upbeat tracks, with “Le Grand Heron et la demoiselle” being a sparse, atonal solo freakout. “Maringouins en escadron” ends on fun, upbeat, grooving note.
Robert Marcel Lepage: Le Lait Maternel
Le Lait Maternel is more of a jazz/rock/exotica fusion, with full, lush orchestration. Very fun and exciting. Traces of spy and surf music, bossa nova, smooth jazz, country (steel guitar on “L’Avenue Charles Ives”), Marc Ribot-esque guitar, backwards effects, electronics, and a bunch more that I’m just not processing right now. Eclectic and a little schizo, but not quite in a disconcerting John Zorn way. Songs shift mood and change tempo, and most of them are under 3 minutes, so it’s pretty ADD. Charles Ives and Buddy Rich are namechecked in the song titles, so that gives you a little insight to the inspiration here. “Le Rock du bungalow” and “Le Robert bougalou” are the most swingin’ ’60s-ish, while “Le Grand Canyon” is a solemn string passage. “Le Ketchack americain” has crazy vocal percussion and squonking horns. A few tracks are aided by ticking electronic beats, with closer “Le Mangeur de gazon” getting particularly IDM-ish. Very eclectic and fun, a worthy soundtrack to what could be a pretty bizarre and entertaining film.