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

LA BOURSE OU LA VIE

Contraction

Crossover Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
4 stars By the time the second Contraction album was out, their mentor Frank Dervieux was dead and they dedicated their second and final record to him. The line-up stayed pretty stable but by now they had a solid partnership with the Perotte brothers, one of them is producing and the other drumming. The music developed in this album is the logical progression of their debut, not only in songwriting, but also in terms of all around musicianship. Christiane Robichaud is impressive in the imaginative use of her slightly above average but very pleasing voice and still delivering typical Quebecois -tinged French lyrics. Again, most of the music falls under the Laferriere & Lachapelle tandem with Stanley take the forefront with his fluid guitar lines and the occasional flute breaks from Miller. Again the first side is full of shorter tunes, some of them a bit in the radio-song format, but is book-ended by the Jos Coeur. Among the highlights would be a very strange but wonderful adaptation of nursery rhyme A La Claire Fontaine and the play on words of L'Alarme à l'Oeuil (instead of tears in the eye , it is the alert in your eyes).

Yes, you are all waiting to know what the second side sounds like especially the 18 min title track! Mostly by this track is responsible of their inclusion on this site, and the detour is well worth it if you are investigating Quebecois prog. The long instrumental passages are very imaginative , loose (as is generally their overall style) yet full of small surprises, somehow in between more typical French songs , sizzling rock passages , jazzy arrangements and more classical influences mostly coming from the KBs. This is such a climax, that one forgets the last track or more likely includes it as the epilogue into the 18 min multi-movement suite.

Most of these guys will play in other bands such as Harmonium, Toubabou and some in the collective Ville Emmard Blues Band (better known as VEBB) that were anything but blues. Some tracks were foreseen for their third album but only saw the light of the day on bassist Laferrièrre's solo album, La Cuisine Rouge. This album can be seen as one of the most representative of the Quebec prog scene, although it is not among the best coming out of La Belle Province.

Report this review (#35644)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars As you know I am a huge fan of the 70's Prog Quebec scene and certainly one of the greats were Contraction. "La Bourse ou la vie" (money or life) was their second release and further expanded Contraction's sound into a more progressive camp. On this album is also wrote and recorded a superb 18 Mins epic title track which in itself is worth the admission ! Fans of Harmonium and Beau Dommage will love this album. Contraction blend ethernal flutes, with great guitar and great bass and drum interplay and mixed in is the lovely voice of Christiane Robichaud. Musically this band offer some great musicanship and creative song writing which will please all prog rock fans.
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Posted Monday, June 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars CONTRACTION are one of the many incredible bands to come out of Quebec in the seventies.The band was formed by singer Christiane Robichaud and bassist / composer Yves Laferriere, both of whom had been part of Frank Dervieux's band.The significance of this was that Frank's album "Dimension" was considered by many to be the first Progressive album to come out of Quebec as it was released in 1971. Franck had sadly been diagnosed with cancer hence these two going out and forming this band called CONTRACTION.This is their second album and by this time Frank had passed away so they dedicated this record to him. Lots of female vocal melodies in this melodic yet sophisticated and intricate release. This was a pleasure to listen to.

"Jos Coeur (Overture)" is a short intro track with vocal melodies. "L'alarme A L'oeil" is a mood altering track because it's so upbeat and has plenty of those vocal melodies too. A change after 1 1/2 minutes as piano joins in then it settles after 2 minutes with more vocal melodies.Themes are then repeated. Cool. "Claire Fontaine" is very laid back with sparse piano and faint vocal melodies. A light beat and intricate guitar joins in.Vocals 2 minutes in. Nice bass when she stops singing. "Sam m'Madown" puts more emphasis on the vocals and she puts on a show. "Jos Coeur (Fermeture)" opens with faint sounds then it starts to come to life before a minute.Vocal melodies follow then it picks up around 3 minutes with the guitar leading.Vocal melodies then return. "Vent Du Sud" is a short dreamy tune.

"La Bourse Ou Le Vie" is slow to get going then vocal melodies arrive 1 1/2 minutes in before it kicks into gear. Great sound here with drums, guitar, bass and keys standing out. It settles after 5 minutes but it's still powerful. It picks back up at 7 minutes. A calm before 8 minutes as reserved vocals, bass and piano take over. It picks up some 10 minutes in. A calm again 12 minutes in with piano only.Vocal melodies before 13 1/2 minutes then vocals before 15 minutes as the sound builds. Nice guitar before 17 minutes. "L'ame A Tout Faire" has a good heavy sound to it to start. It settles right down before 2 minutes with vocal melodies then she starts to sing words as it builds. It kicks in again after 3 minutes.

If your a fan of the Quebec Prog scene of the seventies (who isn't) you need to check this band out.

Report this review (#438800)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars In Canadian progressive rock scenery from the 70's certainly, CONTRACTION are "framed" in the same style of another Canadian band OCTOBRE. However, this "La Bourse Or La Vie" ( that I consider their best work) isn't not in the same level from "Survivance" ( in my opinion the best album from OCTOBRE), neverthelessi is a good work, full of beautiful female vocals and some jazzy influences. The best tracks are: track 2 "L'Alarme À l'Oeil" ,track 5 "Joes Coeur (fermeture) and track 7 "La Bourse or La Vie!" the most really progressive tracks . My rate is 3 stars -Good but not essential- with the reservation that this album figures in my collection !!!
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Posted Friday, March 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1555150)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2016 | Review Permalink

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