Nous Perçons les Oreilles

La Vie, C'est Simple

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The first album by Jean Derome and Joane Hétu's life/stage duo "Nous Perçons les Oreilles" was a harsh free improv session. The unit has matured and developed a repertoire of compositions, while "devolving" into a beautifully childish group. They have found their inner child, as illustrated by "Celui Qu'Il Dit," a vocal exploration of the single sentence "It takes one to know one." Alto saxophone, small wind instruments such as ocarina and bird calls, and most of all the voice are used to create playful pieces in which fancy and the sheer pleasure to kid around reign. Most of the lyrics relate to wordplays, phonetical explorations, and a sense of linguistic fun found in the writings of Raymond Queneau and George Perec. Some will find this music somewhat infantile -- and the truth is that this reviewer's toddlers have had a lot of fun listening to it. But dismissing it on that count would be incredibly snobbish. At the turn of the millennium, experimental music had become very serious. La Vie, C'est Simple (Life Is Simple) doesn't have a care; it's fresh, lively, and extremely seductive to anyone who can still be amazed (and amused) by the mysteries of language and the simplicity of certain word associations. Plus, the musicianship is top-notch, both players also performing some great free improv episodes. This duo approaches what Derome and René Lussier were doing in the 1980s as Les Granules, but informed by Derome and Hétu's respective music of the 1990s. Tom Carter has translated and adapted the lyrics to make them comprehensible to English speakers. Unusual and highly recommended, especially if you regularly feel the urge to play with your children's toy instruments -- or believe Cheap at Half the Price is one of Fred Frith's best records.

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