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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Contraction (Quebec)
    Posted: May 06 2008 at 10:03
Contraction created wonderful melodic music with some jazzy feel at times.
 
Here's Hugues' bio here in PA:
 
One of the most important Progressive rock albums coming from La Belle Province was Dimension M (released in 71) from frontman FRANK DERVIEUX, and his back-up band happened to be the group that would call themselves CONTRACTION after Dervieux’s sickness that would eventually take his life at a tragically low age. Not only was he all too young, but Dimension M is one of the defining albums for the coming prog tsunami that would flood Quebec throughout most of the 70’s and it helped the Quebecois cultural revolution. Most musicologists would agree that after ROBERT CHARLEBOIS daring to sing with his Joual accent from the late 60’s onwards, the few early rock groups around in the early 70’s also dared singing in French (OCTOBRE, OFFENBACH, DYONISOS, LES CHAMPIGNONS) whereas many others still sung in English (MAHOGANY RUSH, MORSE CODE TRANSMISSION etc), and Frank’s Dimension M was one of the most influential in that respect (although it has yet to be reissued on the Cd format) and gave a boost to many other groups.

Sooo, DERVIEUX’s backing band decided to remain together and recorded their self-titled debut album, which was released in early 72 in both French and English version (there was still that temptation) with that famous arresting artwork depicting a baby curled up in an ear, artwork which hinted at the upcoming birth of a prog boom. The group evolved around songwriting bassist Laferriere and keyboardist Lachapelle, but had a very charming stage presence due to Christiane Robichaud’s sensual and suave vocals. Robichaud’s vocals would leave a definitive influence on Quebec’s female vocals in the rock realm. This debut album consolidated the group in its endeavours. During 73, the group got mixed in with the VILLE EMARD BLUES BAND, a jazz-rock adventure that would last less than two years, but reunited almost everyone in the Quebec scene.

But this was nothing yet, compared to the group’s following album released in early 74 called La Bourse Ou La Vie, which would create a real frenzy, causing all sorts of groups to start up that year, including HARMONIUM, MANEIGE, MORSE CODE (switching to French singing and dropping the “transmission”), TOUBABOU, OPUS 5, SLOCHE to all release their debut albums with the next 18 months. La Bourse Ou La Vie is an excellent indefinable mix of influences where a slight jazzy prog-rock seems to be the prime ingredient, but hardly the only one. The album’s name is a reaction to the heavy pressures of their record label to ask them to be more commercial, but they refused, using that hold-up catch phrase. Indeed, if the tracks on the A side were still very much like their debut album, almost all of the flipside is taken by the 18-minutes title track with a slight Canterbury twist and some Crimson touches.

The group broke up after the legendary St Jean Festival on the Mont Royal with Harmonium, BEAU DOMMAGE, LES SEGUINS, Octobre and more. (This particular event was so successful that it involuntarily was leading Quebec youth into independent Quebec frame of mind, along with the arrival of the Parti Québecois to power and the separatism issue that would spoil intra-Canada relations between Quebec and the rest of the country) Two years later, bassist Laferrière released a solo album (included in Contraction’s page), which still had some of Contraction’s paw written all over it.



:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::
 
 
 
Reviews of the first album, Contraction:
 
Sean Trane
(Hugues Chantraine)
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3%20stars 3,5 stars really!!!

This first album from Contraction is a direct evolution from one of the three angular vinyl albums of Quebec progressive music. Coming a year after the release of cornerstone album Dimension M from Frank Dervieux and a few months before his untimely death, most of the musicians had played on that album, and Dervieux himself, very sick, participated to this album. It is also the second of three prog albums to use the human ear as artwork after Floyd's Meddle and before MMEB's Roaring Silence. While this album is certainly full of delightful music, it is a bit of a side-track for progheads, their place on the Archives mostly secured by the follow-up album. You will recognize however that typical Quebec sound especially with the Christiane Robichaud vocals that will remind you of Monique Fauteux in Harmonium's Heptade albums a few years later. Drummer Denis Farmer is also to be found in Harmonium, later on. Stanley's guitar lines are somewhat jazzy but also a bit Duane Allman inspired and Laferriere's bass works are certainly the strong points, the whole thing underlined by the Lachapelle Fender Rhodes piano. Among the guest musicians are Dervieux and Seguin on congas.

As I said above , the music is not overwhelmingly progressive but still holds many excellent moments to please even the most demanding proghead , but while there are some sizzling guitar solos and some very intimate ambiances, the whole band never seems to manage to shift to the next gear and go on to bigger things. This will be for the next album.

Report this review (#35465) | Posted Tuesday, June 07, 2005 | Review Permalink

The Rock
(Alain Mallette)
3%20stars Well finally after all these years this little gem gets the digital treatment.One of the first and best Quebecois(French-Canadian) prog/folk/jazz album.Etheral and fluid, the music is never boring despite the fact that it's not that complex.More in the vain of early Renaissance and Fairport Convention and other female fronted bands than bombastic ELP like prog.Don't excpect organ cascades here.The music is guided by the beautiful voice of Christiane Robichaud even though she only sings four of the nine tracks included here,her voice can be heard as an instrument on some of the "instrumental" tracks.The album contains many short songs and instrumentals all linked toghether giving the impression of two long suites.This band was in the same leaugue as Canadian best bands; Harmonium,CANO,Toubabou,Beau Dommage ect...Recommended for those looking for quiet,pastoral and at the same time symphonic music.

Report this review (#36986) | Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
 
 
 
Review of La Bourse ou la Vie
Sean Trane
(Hugues Chantraine)
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4%20stars 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 08, 2005 | Review Permalink

 
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 06 2008 at 19:14
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 07 2008 at 17:42

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 08 2008 at 16:51
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 09 2008 at 19:22
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 09 2008 at 19:36
Listening to the myspace page, Contraction sounds very good: 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 10 2008 at 14:51
Hu~~~~m, Contraction is not popular among PA users???
I have two albums also I own Yves Laferrier's solo album. They are very good filled with Canadian pastel colored sound. In comparison with Harmonium, Maneige, Morse Code, etc, Contraction is apparently obscure. But I can recommend if you like Quebec symphonic rock music in 1970s. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 30 2008 at 22:17
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