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CONTREVENT

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Canada


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Contrevent biography
A few years after the Quebec prog boom was out, and all that remained was OFFENBACH (by then not prog anymore) and its non-prog offshoot CORBEAU, the scene was all but dead if you'll except the jazz group UZEB (going famous world-wide) and the future-slightly-proggy (in the late 90's) THE BOX. Out of the blue appeared in 85, this jazzy-prog band called Contrevent that released their first album Jeu De Paume, which as you can probably guess went totally unnoticed. This guitar-dominated quintet also featuring violin/cello and vibes (with the Paradis brothers in the rhythm section) developed a fairly smooth-going instrumental fusion that presented constant progression and could've found place on the ECM Label catalogue even if it lacked a bit of energy as so typical of the 80's. The lack of profile didn't stop the fairly-different (only guitarist and main-songwriter Vallée was left) group from releasing four years later, Youkali, much in the same vein as its predecessor, without much more success than the local jazz-scene.

The group reappeared (again much different) in 93 with their last effort Terre De Feu (tierra del fuego), this time with a fairly different sound too. Alas, although the prog movement was slowly rising from its ashes (even locally, as VISIBLE WIND had now appeared), the band was on its last leg and would fold quietly. Sadly none of their three albums were ever reissued in the CD format, but the vinyl albums should still be financially accessible to prospective progheads and fusionheads. Marc Vallée has kept making music for movie and theatres, and his musical creations have shifted to an acoustic world-folk.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine ::::

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CONTREVENT discography


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CONTREVENT top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.04 | 5 ratings
Jeu De Paume
1985
3.05 | 3 ratings
Youkali
1989
3.12 | 7 ratings
Terre De Feu
1993

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CONTREVENT Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Jeu De Paume by CONTREVENT album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.04 | 5 ratings

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Jeu De Paume
Contrevent Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Contrevent's first album would've come as a bit of a surprise if someone had noticed it outside the very-local scene, but Contrevent's instrumental jazz-prog was about as far removed from the pop scene as a polar icecap is from the Equator. Coming in a dreamy light- blue artwork, the title refers to a rare ball-game played on the local level in Belgium (a variant of the pelote-basque), and the trio of frontmen (Vallée's guitar and keys, Beausoleil's vibes and Gagnon's violin & cello) allow for a wide spectrum of ambiances. The Paradis brothers handle the rhythm section.

A very rhythmic Anti-Statique opening of the album features Beausoleil's vibraphone as the lead instrument with Gagnon's violin. Vallée's acoustic guitar is one of the main drives of Crème De Menthe, where the vibes and violin play second fiddle. The title track is changing often of climates, but remains in the album's coherent musical direction. Beausoleil's vibraphone is the spine of D'Eau, but it's kind of sleep-inducing, while Brume Et Glace (mist & ice) sees Gagnon's cello open

Quite an iceberg in the middle of the tropical seas, Contrevent's JdP is definitely some kind of UFO from a long-ago imploded planet, from which the only refuge might have been on the ECM label.

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 Terre De Feu by CONTREVENT album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Terre De Feu
Contrevent Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

By the time of release of the present Terre De Feu album in 1993, Contrevent was a very different group, with only guitarist Marc Vallée remaining from the original album, but all of the original instruments are still present, but having found new players. Gone are the Paradis brothers, but Blouin and Martel sounding like they're brothers as well. With Longsworth replacing Gagnon on cello and Bouliane taking over the vibes from Beausoleil, but also the keyboard duties from Vallée, you'd imagine the Contrevent soundscapes are respected and somewhat safe. Coming with a fascinating Fire-like brown background over the group's black silhouettes, the general Contrevent aesthetics are somewhat respected despite very different production techniques, probably because this was their first CD release (I'm extrapolating here).

The 62.5 MPH Kilometre Heure is an excellent intro to TdF (their final album), but the surprise comes from the sound level (much louder), but also the drum and keyboard choice and sound. The title track features the Bouliane's vibraphone, but Martel's fretless bass is a perfect sidekick. Most of the remaining tracks are in the same general spirit and musical mould, but the album's overall feel is much rockier than their previous two albums' gentle jazz-fusion. Indeed, Vallée's electric guitar solo on Nutella is infinitely more Fripp-ian and metallic, but well-accompanied by the band's dark setting. Victims is a somewhat Ponty-ish, and not just because of Longsworth's violin. Only a couple tracks like Le Miroir are somewhat reminiscent of the old Contrevent, in part due to Vallée's finger-picking his acoustic guitar and the vibraphone's almost Rhodes-ian feel. You'll find another somewhat Crimsonian moment in the darker depth of Smog, and in some ways, one can think of their countrymen Pangée's only album Hymnemonde, which in itself is quite a reference.

If Contrevent's previous two albums could've sonically found some place in the ECM catalogue, this would be a tad more difficult for their last Terre De Feu album, because it's ironically somewhat more synthetic (in the 80's way), than their two 80's releases. And despite this big production and sonic difference, you can safely invest into TDF, if you've liked their first two albums.

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 Youkali by CONTREVENT album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Youkali
Contrevent Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!

Second offering from this quintet, released in 89, still led by main composer and guitarist Marc Vallée, but well-assisted by Beausoleil's vibraphone and Gagnon's violin and cello playing. The Paradis brother made up the bass & drums rhythm section. Graced with a proggy artwork, the album sports seven instrumental tracks, fairly close to what they'd done in their first album, which dated from four years before.

What's actually refreshing for the era was that Contrevent never fell in the ugly musical trappings of the industry, not playing with sampled beats and ugly digital crappy synths as they presented a fairly acoustic sound, if you'll except some electronic drums in Memoire De Perles. Vibraphones were actually quite popular in Quebec as Maneige had featured them, then later L'Orchestre Sympathique, and of course Uzeb, and in Contrevent, they were also one of the main ingredients, sometimes filling the role of keyboards. I spoke of instrumental JR/F, but actually there are some wordless female chants in Trapezoide, but that's about it in the album. Don't expect much energy in Youkali, but it's very European in spirit. They probably spent some time in Belgium apparently since one of the tracks is named Bois De La Cambre (where yours truly lives right next to), an acoustic guitar piece stuck somewhere between Django Reinhardt and Jacques Stotzem's respective styles. The title track offer a bit more energy than on the rest of the other track, but nothing to bang your head to, while the closing Une Main is the other highlight of the album.

Nothing really essential, but then again for the later 80's, it was remarkable enough that anything sounding like this actually managed to find its way into release. Actually, in some ways, you could've found Contrevent's Youkali light jazz-fusion being released on an ECM album of the era and it would've gone through like a letter through the post. Hopefully someday ProgQuebec will worry about this group, lost in an ocean of emptiness, with only Miriodor's faraway presence to mask the era's void in La Belle Province.

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Thanks to sean trane for the artist addition.

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