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Sloche - Stadaconé CD (album) cover

STADACONÉ

Sloche

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.32 | 183 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
5 stars SLOCHE had done fairly well in its native Quebec with its unique blend of progressive rock and jazz-fusion on its debut album "J'un Oeil" which was released in 1975. The band enjoyed a lively tour and in the process found a new legion of dedicated fans who were still very much into the prog scene however the peak of prog had already waned and it the musical tides were turning but nevertheless SLOCHE continued on to crank out one more album before finally calling it a day due to financial hardships. Between the debut album and this sophomore release, drummer Gilles Chiasson had quit the band and was replaced by André Roberge and in addition the quintet became a sextet with the addition of Gilles Ouellet who played the celesta and additional percussion.

STADACONÉ which refers to an Iroquois village that once existed where Quebec City now lies came out in 1976 to critical acclaim. The band had already experienced radio airplay with the previous album and the more accessible sounds of STADACONÉ only guaranteed that this good fortune would continue. After a highly complex debut that intricately mixed up jazz, classical, progressive rock and electronica that developed multiple themes and zigzagged around erratically, STADACONÉ offered a more streamlined sound that kept the compositions more rooted in the Herbie Hancock style jazz-funk sounds present on the debut but on this album became the centerpiece. While the debut already was sparse in the vocal department, STADACONÉ tamped them down even further thus making it practically an instrumental affair although a few vocal parts do jet out of nowhere offering a wild contrast when least expected.

The opening title track sets the mood for the entire album with a catchy upbeat jazz-funk groove that never really leaves the main theme behind and unlike the debut's ability to drift off in unexpected directions. STADACONÉ in contrast to the debut focused on myriad variations on a unified theme. The result is a more uniform sounding album that offers more soloing and technical wizardry to jam around the central groove. The opening title track features adventurous guitar parts, varying keyboard parts as well as a few curve balls in the form of trippy space rock moments and Gentle Giant vocal harmonies that pop in and out from time to time. The following "Le Cosmophile" starts out rather like space rock but then whips itself back into jazz-funk mode with extraordinary keyboard wizardry bringing the early 1970s symphonic prog vibe into the mix however the Yes time signature frenzies of the debut have been abandoned. This track features some great vocal parts as well.

The most proggy track of the album comes smack dab in the middle with the shortest "Il Faut Sauver Barbara" which DOES feature some of those proggier-than-thou time signature freak outs plus some mighty fine keyboard sounds. The band mastered the art of note bending and sustain unlike many others of the day. The dexterous control of speed, dynamics, silence and chord progressions became even more prominent on STADACONÉ. "Ad Hoc" is the funkiest track with a "weeping" guitar sound along with a groovy funk bass and Canterbury-ish keyboard roll which had mostly been abandoned on this album as well. More guitar antics are let off the leash with soloing on par with some of the hard rock and early metal bands of the era. "La "Baloune" de Varenkurtel au Zythogala" is probably the most jazz sounding of the album existing somewhat in the Weather Report department but rocks more than that band ever did. The closing track "Isacaaron (ou Le démon des choses sexuelles)" is the longest track at 11 1/2 minutes and is the most like the material presented on the debut. In its wake it wends and winds all over the place brashly and boldly with time signature frenzies, stylistic shifts and EVERY musician gets to prance his technical prowess like a proud peacock.

Out of the two albums SLOCHE released, STADACONÉ is the one that's easiest to grasp with a single listening experience. It is far more focused and less scattered than "J'un Oeil" but for those who crave an even more adventurous fusion experience, the debut wins hands down. This second coming is no slouch though! Both albums excel in their own way. The fact that STADACONÉ is more focused allows the musicians to perform more sophisticatedly around the centralized jazz-funk groove. All the virtuosity present on the debut is in well abundance here if not more. While the debut focused more on unexpected developments, STADACONÉ is very much more about improvising over the main theme. By 1976 the prospects for progressive acts like SLOCHE making a living at their art become quite bleak as the shotguns of the punk and new wave era had already been heard and quickly brushing the world of prog aside. While it's a sad thing indeed considering how bloody talented this group was, we can only be grateful that SLOCHE released not one but two bonafide masterpieces in its short time and even more thankful that diligent revivalists such as ProgQuebec have remastered and rereleased these treasures that remained lost in time for many decades. SLOCHE is one of those best of the best and proudly sits on my favorite bands of all time list.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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