Genticorum’s La Bibournoise and Le Vent du Nord’s Mesdames et Messieurs!

cover artGenticorum plays Quebecois music that displays its connections to Celtic folk music more than most, due largely to the presence of flute on many tunes. This young trio features Pascal Gemme on fiddle, feet and vocals, Alexandre Moulin de Grosbois-Garand on flute, fiddle, bass and vocals, and Yann Falquet on guitar, jew’s harp and vocals. The 12 tracks are about evenly divided between tunes and songs; the tunes are all but one written by Gemme; the lyrics of the songs are all traditional.

I’m divided in my feelings about this album. On one hand, I absolutely love some tracks, particularly the uptempo call-and-response songs. Of particular note is the title track, an a capella gem accompanied just by foot percussion, about a prison made entirely of foodstuffs — the floors of ham, walls of mutton and plenty of barrels of wine to wash it down with. Other songs I like include “Le Moine Blanc,” about a monk secretly entertaining a young lady in his chambers; “Pinson et Cendrouille,” a droll song about a pair of lovebirds and their wedding party — a bit of a variation on “Froggy Went A-Courtin’ “; and “Les Culottes de V’lour,” about a man who ends up wearing his wife’s lover’s pants. And some of the instrumentals are wonderful, particularly “La Gigue A Pierre Chartrand,” part of a tune set, which is a 5-4-3 tune; it has three sections, one in five beats, one in four and one in three. I also like “Le Brandy Culotté” a reel in three-four time for stepdancing; and the closer, “Le Pommeau.”

Some of the tunes and songs, though, veer a bit too near to New Age Celtic for my taste, particularly the opening song “La Ligue d Vieux Poële,” and the slower songs “Le Vingt D’Avril” and the tune “Valse Beaulieu.” The tracks that have a lot of flute or fretless bass seem farthest from the traditional, which I guess is what I like best about this type of music.

Still, it’s a great album of Quebecois folk music overall, and one that I’ll be sure to return to in the future.

cover artLe Vent du Nord‘s live album Mesdames et messieurs! had me concerned that it would be too New Agey when the opening track started with tinkling piano, but as soon as the accordion and fiddle kicked in and the crowd started cheering and whistling, my fears evaporated. This superbly rhythmic quartet was joined by a raft of friends on stage in July 2008 at the Festival Mémoire et Racines in Lanaudiere, Quebec for a night of magic and music. That first song was a tribute to their friend Denis Fréchette, who had recently passed away — after that, things really take off.

Passionate fiddling and accordion pumping, rhythmic foot percussion, and lovely multi-part vocal harmonies feature prominently. Influence of Parisian chanson shows up in songs like “Le Veillée Chez Poirier.” Nicolas Boulerice brings out the hurdy-gurdy for the uptempo song “Les Amants du Sant-Laurent.” There’s an a capella workout in “Cré mardi.” And members of several other groups, including De Temps Antan, Les Langues Fourchues, The McDades and Bernard Simard, all join in for the two final numbers, “Vive l’amour” and “Au Bord de la Fontaine.”

This is Quebecois music as it was intended, fast, hot and sweaty and live, with a partisan crowd dancing and cheering at the lip of the stage. Wish I’d been there!

(Mad River, 2009)
(Borealis, 2009)

Gary Whitehouse

Gary has been reviewing music, books and more at the Green Man Review since sometime in the previous Millennium. He lives in a mostly hipster-free part of Oregon, where he enjoys dogs, books, music, the outdoors, and craft beer, cider, and coffee.

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