|Improvised music, composed music, an improvisation framework: a sound patchwork. A collage made from 14 excerpts taken from five different concerts by Ensemble SuperMusique presented between 1998 and 2004.
A shape-shifting ensemble solely devoted to the performance of new music works and improvisation, L’Ensemble SuperMusique is comprised of musicians who have developed, over the last two decades, a very deep and significant understanding of the vocabulary of new music. They are masters of the genre. The Canevas «+» musicians’ original compositions and live spur-of-the-moment performances highlight the Ensemble’s flexibility and audacity.
by François Couture
in All-Music Guide (USA), November 5, 2004
Here’s the family tree : Ambiances Magnétiques is an avant-gardemusicians’ collective-cum-record label. Productions SuperMusique is a production company set up by Joane Hétu, Diane Labrosse and Danielle Palardy Roger, all members of Ambiances Magnétiques. The Ensemble SuperMusique is a shapeshifting supergroup bringing together Montreal-based improvisers closely or loosely associated with Ambiances Magnétiques and/or the Montreal improv scene. And Canevas «+» is the group’s first CD, culling various excerpts from concerts recorded between 1998 and 2004. Despite its collective nature, the AM crew has rarely released live collective material, the only previous occurrence being the 1992 CD Une Théorie des Ensembles (which, except for two group pieces, presentedseparate projects from group members). Canevas «+» is much more gregarious. We are presented with a true free improv ensemble (not unlike the London Improvisers Orchestra, although on a smaller scale), performing structured improvisations, conductions, and a few loose compositions. But the ensemble shapeshifts from track to track, from year to year. The core remains relatively the same: Hétu, Labrosse and Roger, plus Jean Derome and Martin Tétreault. Around them revolve familiar Ambiances Magnétiques names, such as Pierre Tanguay and Pierre Cartier, but also relatively newcomers like Sam Shalabi, Nicolas Caloia, Gabrielle Bouthillier and Morceaux de machines’ Aimé Dontigny. No matter what shape the group takes, the result is sharp, deep-running, consensual improvising. And thanks to Joane Hétu’senlightened editing, the tracklist unfolds seamlessly, with much more cohesion than expected. Highlights include the three composed revisitations of folk songs by La Bolduc (aka Mary Travers, a Quebec cultural icon of the Great Depression era), Hétu’s improv game Le Discours, Labrosse’s two pieces (La Tulipe and Les Mouches, somewhere between her projects Parasites and (Petit Traité de Sagesse Pratique), and Tétreault’s contributions, all very playful and quote-heavy. Canevas «+» requires some getting used to, if only because of the number of people involved and the shortness of the tracks (it’s hard to keep up!), but its rewards are aplenty and the album gives proof that the Ambiances Magnétiques/SuperMusique crew has renewed both its roster and its approaches, while remaining true to its multi-faceted identity. Recommended.