Le Vent du Nord
Label: Borealis Records
Tracks : 13
Website: Le Vent du Nord
Territoires is the tenth album from the kings of Quebecois traditional music, Le Vent Du Nord. They have delivered yet another masterpiece of the genre. It is packed with great songs and tunes based on “the quest for territories, physical and internal and those that don’t yet exist”
The tone is set from the opening track Le Pays de Samuel, based on the dream of Samuel de Champlain to build a bridge between the indigenous and European nations. The song laments the fact that the dream is as yet unfinished and there is still work to be done. As with all the songs on the album, the passion of the vocal shines through, even to those of us who do not fully understand the language. It is followed by Le Soir Arrive, a jaunty little love song from the George Comeau repertoire which begins with some fine guitar picking and develops to finish with a musical flourish.
Other highlights include the stark and dramatic Le Chaousaro, which tells of a mythical creature that inhabits a lake in the valley in which three of the band members were born. It is a dark and powerful tale with a melody to match. Evolution Tranquille charts the rapid progression made by Quebec from feudalism to modernity in only hundred years or so and is optimistic about the future. Louisbourg is described as a rare song depicting the loss of the first city in French America from the point of view of the soldiers who fought together. The a cappella singing is very effective and gives the track a harrowing feel.
Probably my favourite track on the album is the beautifully evocative Le Mere A L’echafaud, an old story of love and death wrapped up in a gorgeous Celtic melody. The arrangement was worked out on the Orkney Isles and
I like to think that a bit of the Scottish magic has worked its way into this sumptuous track.
The musicianship on the album is outstanding as you would expect from this well established band. Fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, guitar, bouzouki, piano and percussion all work together perfectly and the multi-voice vocals are impeccable.
In addition to the songs there are four fine instrumentals on the album. Contillon Du Capitaine shows the musicality of the band to the full. The lead melody is expertly performed, backed by the infectious percussion, and the piano inserts are excellent. Le Step A Alexis is a cracking wee reel that just makes you want to dance while Turlute A Bassinette starts off with a haunting melody that morphs into a foot-tapper with a chanted refrain. The final track, Cote-Nord Is a lovely slower
tune that flows along beautifully bringing the album to a fitting close.
Le Vent Du Nord have a reputation for pushing Quebecois folk music forward and this album continues to do just that. To me, it is undoubtedly their best work to date. They are at the pinnacle of the genre and this album helps cement that position.