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Contraction - La Bourse ou la Vie CD (album) cover

LA BOURSE OU LA VIE

Contraction

 

Crossover Prog

3.90 | 38 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Contraction was a band that formed out of the ashes of a previous project spearheaded by Frank Dervieux. It is said that his album "Dimension M" is one of the most important in Québec prog history, and his back-up band were the folks that made up Contraction. When Dervieux became ill, Contraction released an album of their own in 1972, and when Dervieux finally succumbed to his illness, Contraction dedicated their second and final album to him, borrowing some of his original material which they had performed and reworking it.

Contraction are a difficult group to describe. Like many bands of the Rock Progressif Québécois scene, there's a strong jazz influence and some classical in the piano department. But Contraction also have a funky side that stands out in some of their more grooving moments, like "Sam m'madown". At times the music doesn't seem as technically complex as some bands, but there's a layering going on with each instrument working to create its own thread of sound or working in tandem with another instrument while leaving others to do their own thing. Though lyrics are reserved for a couple of tracks only, Christiane Robichaud provides vocals that sound either like a jazz singer going funk or a funk singer going jazz. She has a way of starting a word on a lower note, then launching that syllable high into a vibrato whisper that's almost nasal before swooping back down again. There is a definite 70's French quality to her voice that I have not heard elsewhere but somehow seems familiar enough to me having spent my childhood in Canada in the 70's. There are two drummers here and others doing extra percussion, so the possibilities for multiple percussionists working on a single track are exploited when it suits. Catch the Crimson- esque work in the closing track "L'ame a tout faire" both in guitar playing and double percussionists at work.

The album is divided into an overture and a "fermeture" (closure) with a couple of songs and an instrumental sandwiched in between. Then there's a barely-over-a-minute instrumental followed by the 18-minute title track and then another instrumental. What I find remarkable is how on some of the shorter pieces the band manage to fill them with a lot of action. "L'alarme à l'oiel" and "Jos Coeur (ouverture)" are excellent pieces of prog rock but quite short. "Claire Fontaine" is a slower and beautiful track with a pretty flute melody and Christiane's beautiful vocals.

The title track I had high hopes for. It comes in three parts basically with a first part that follows the mood of the album very closely. In the middle there's a classical piano solo part with Christiane joining and then the rest of the band. I find this part is where my mind starts wandering. The song returns to its groovier beginning for the finale. Overall a pretty good piece of work but less captivating than some of the other tracks.

At first I was thinking to award this only three stars but I have taken the time to re-evaluate the album and I feel four stars is a more suitable rating.

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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