Les Poules

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Les Poules began as a side project for Joane Hétu (vocals, sax), Diane Labrosse (keyboards), and Danielle Palardy Roger (drums), three members of the feminist collective Wondeur Brass. The release of…
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Les Poules began as a side project for Joane Hétu (vocals, sax), Diane Labrosse (keyboards), and Danielle Palardy Roger (drums), three members of the feminist collective Wondeur Brass. The release of their first LP in 1986 cemented the relationships and the musical approach of this trio: a partly improvised form of synthetic avant-pop. The members went on to participate in many other projects. In 2000, the trio itself was resurrected as a free improv unit and a new CD came out in 2002.

The year is 1986, the location Montréal. A group of avant-rock feminists has been active for a few years under the name Wondeur Brass. Started as a political music theater, it has evolved into a provoking experimental pop group. At that point Hétu, Labrosse, and Roger, the three most avant-gardist elements of the collective, felt the need to retract from the large ensemble (which has counted as many as nine members at one point) to work on their own small-scale project, christened Les Poules -- "the chicks," a bitter name for feminists. The music on Les Contes de l'Amère Loi, released in 1986, shows a sharper focus than Wondeur Brass' Ravir (1985): post-new-wave in spirit, cold, and chaotic, the songs left more room to improvisation and yet packed more punch. Instead of bringing back the other members of WB, on hiatus, the trio decided to sack them and hire bassist Marie Trudeau. This quartet recorded Simoneda, Reine des Esclaves under the moniker Wondeur Brass before switching to Justine and releasing two more albums in the '90s. Hétu, Labrosse, and Roger continued to work on each other's solo projects and co-run the production company SuperMémé-SuperMusique, but everyone believed Les Poules was a project of the past.

In 2000, Hétu, Labrosse, and Roger performed in Victoria and Vancouver, Canada, as a trio again and the use of their old group name came naturally. A year later, Ambiances Magnétiques reissued Les Contes de l'Amère Loi on CD and the trio presented a concert in Montréal. No nostalgia is involved, the old repertoire has been buried. The new Poules play quiet free improvisation. Lyrics have devolved into abstract vocalizations, the keyboard licks have become treated samples, the beats have turned into textural percussion work. Prairie Orange came out in 2002.