Everybody remembers some of these popular sayings found in the dictionary, short sentences presumably holding a piece of Truth. Is wisdom derived from knowing (and understanding) these sayings, or is it derived from taking a different approach -- as Dianne Labrosse does here -- recreating them, knocking them out of their trajectories, giving them new meanings? Isn't wisdom made in part of irreverence? Labrosse, master samplist at Ambiances Magnétiques, makes such propositions with Petit Traité de Sagesse Pratique (Little Treatise on Practical Wisdom), her second solo album. The first, Face Cachée des Choses, showcased her alone in introspective pieces. This project required many guns from the Ambiances Magnétiques arsenal: Michel F. Côté (percussion), Jean Derome (alto sax, flutes, birdcalls, toys), Joane Hétu (alto sax), Alexandre St-Onge (double bass, prepared bass guitar), Pierre Tanguay (drums, percussion), Martin Tétreault (turntables), and Rainer Wiens (prepared guitar). Petit Traité de Sagesse Pratique takes the shape of a "book" grouping the 37 modernized sayings into five chapters of about ten minutes each. The sayings (in French) are all diverted from their original meanings through the play of words, and would not make any sense if translated in English. If you don't understand French, you will definitely lose a dimension of this album. But the revamped sayings are paired with musical snapshots meant to relate to determined styles (from gavotte to free jazz, symphony to medieval). These styles should be understood as inspirational sources rather than a program in themselves. The cohesion of this record is surprising; with so many tracks, it would have been easy to fire everywhere at once. Petit Traité de Sagesse Pratique revolves around an aesthetic center consisting of a blend of sonic exploration and musical tradition. Behind the improvisations that play an important role in every snippet, one feels Labrosse's hand firmly holding the helm and maintaining the goal. A successful project, a record full of ideas that reveal themselves more fully upon multiple listens. And one must point out the beautiful artwork, a notch above what is usually found on this label.
AllMusic Review by François Couture