Wondeur Brass

Simoneda, Reine des Esclaves

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After the release of its first LP Ravir, the Montreal all-female avant-rock outfit Wondeur Brass shed a skin, losing three members. The core of the band crystallized around saxophonist Joane Hétu, keyboardist Diane Labrosse, and drummer Danielle P. Roger who recorded together the album Les Contes de l'Amère Loi under the name Les Poules. This more experimental record cemented their association and defined their direction. The arrival of Marie Trudeau on bass completed the process and Simoneda, Reine des Esclaves (Simoneda, Queen of Slaves) was recorded. A true masterpiece of post-new wave avant-gardist pop/rock, this LP showcases a tight band propelled by Roger's electronic drums and Trudeau's inventive basslines (she really brings something different to the band's sound). Labrosse's synthesizers are not all over the place, like on Les Contes de l'Amère Loi, her aim is precise, she gets weird sounds out of her instruments, and her chords always seem a little off-key (intentionally, of course). Hétu's saxophone is better controlled and recorded, bringing a sense of lyricism always on the verge of madness. Vocals are also stronger and the interplay between Hétu, Labrosse, and Roger is more convivial. Hétu's vocal talents are particularly noticeable, as she is developing a highly personal style featured on "T'as Vu Mon Cinema" (You See My Cinema) and "La Louve" (The She-Wolf). The former is a disquieting ballad, the latter an engaging rock song. "Les Amours" (Loves) and the instrumental tour de force "À Toi Ma Lou" (To Lou, musician Lou Babin) are the other highlights of this thoroughly enjoyable album, the best LP Ambiances Magnétiques released during the 1980s (along with Jean Derome and René Lussier's Le Retour des Granules). Fans of '80s avant-garde pop/rock should try to track down a copy. French lyrics are translated in English on the lyric sheet.

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