Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sloche— J'un Oeil,LP,1975,Canada

This stunning group from mid-Northern Quebec (the Chicoutimi region if I am not mistaken and therefore more likely to hang around Quebec than Montreal) is yet another one of relatively unknown groups that help Quebec’s progressive rock revolution in the 70’s. Mainly an instrumental jazz-rock group, but when actually using their vocal powers (both in scatting and in actual singing) , they actually reached peaks of beauty that makes you regret this quintet did not sing more. To describe Sloche’s sound accurately, you would have to imagine a cross of Maneige’s middle period with Opus-5’s Contre-Courant album, but if you are not familiar with Quebec’s scene, this will be tougher to describe, but this fusion of jazz rock, and classical influence is relatively unique and grabs you by your soft side no matter how thick your shell might be. These guys were incredibly tight-playing and were obviously well collaborating with each other as the songwriting is fairly well-shared (a track each except for drummer Chiasson giving space to bassist Hebert a second track) and the sound is still quite up to date some 30 years later.
From the first spacey ringings of the 9-min Pas Fin Du Monde to the last drop of Potage Aux Herbes Douteuses (“Shady” Herbal Soup ;-), every single second is pure heaven with opening track setting an incredible standard with its great scat-vocals (reminding a bit Wishbone Ash during the Argus album) and its middle section almost stopping as if the End Of The World had reached us without a proper warning, but it is a false alert and the tracks picks up in a funkier manner. Closing up the first side is the 11-min Kareme D’Eros and its lengthy piano intro (there are two KB players in the group), where the group shows us that they can be quite impressive in singing (not just scatting) with its text and harmonies being incredibly close to Ripaille’s sole album, some Martin Circus or a much better Ange. If you can imagine a cross-over of jazz-rock with Yes, you might just be able to have an idea of how the track is closing.
The second side starts on the superb (but much shorter) title track, which is also sung, while the much funkier Algebrique (Gentle Giant meeting Mahavishnu Orchestra-sounding and penned by guitarist Bérard) is almost reaching discordance, but this track is almost too technical for its own good. Closing track Potage Aux Herbes Douteuses renews with the scatting harmonies as if to bring you back in full circle to the lead-off track. Another strong pleaser, one wishes this second side of the vinyl to be slightly longer to have developed some ideas a bit further.
While Sloche only recorded two albums, these guys excelled in their craft and were a typical example of what La Belle Province had to offer in the second part of the 70’s. As equally superb (but vastly different at will also) as Maneige, Conventum or Opus-5, Sloche is one of those groups that must be investigate by every proghead, dead ort alive. Astounding and outstanding ;-)
Review by Sean Trane (Hugues Chantraine)
Together with Maneige and Et Cetera, Sloche is part of the Quebecois Holy Trinity of 70s Prog. Their debut album is an outstanding musical work that fairly deserves all the good rap that it usually gets in the Internet. Definitely, Sloche is one of those many unsung prog heroes that most prog collectors only got to know through CD technology and WWW merchandising. Their music tends to be a bit more bombastic that their aforementioned fellows, while keeping a similar fusion-oriented vein as Maneige; meanwhile, the dual keyboard layers provide a symphonic feel every now and then. The fusion facet is clearly influenced by Return to Forever and Weather Report, albeit less pompous than the former and a more uplifting than the latter. I observe some Kerry Minnear and George Duke influences on both keyboardists, but generally speaking, it must be stated that Sloche never gets derivative. The optimistic spirit that is generally spread all throughout “J’un Oeil” allows the complex compositions receive a certain air of catchiness, and also gives a frontal freshness to the musicians’ intricate interplaying - structural sophistication and warmth, all at once. ‘C’pas fin du Monde’ kicks off the album as a proper sample of the band’s style, displaying an attractive intensity and a healthy variety of moods expanded along the succession of different motifs. Things get more solemn in ‘Le Karême d’Eros’, which starts with a 3 ½ minute majestic piano solo, until a brief chorale enters along with the whole instrumental ensemble; the sung parts are accompanied by a series of voices of people partying, acting as a funnily disturbing chorus, and so the solemnity is over. But not the seriousness, as the alternate solos on synth and guitar show: things can only get better with a piece like this, specially when the string synth layers go fading out while a spatial Moog effect drags in to announce the entry of the funk-jazz closing section. Brilliant! The title track is the shortest and catchiest one, keeping things uplifting and a bit gentler… and gigantic as well, since it is the most Gentle Giant-like piece in the album. The same gentleness is carried out by the last two numbers, albeit they’re a bit more complex: ‘Algébrique’ and ‘Potage aux herbes douteuses’ contain the biggest dose of funky colours in the album, but always keeping a constant loyalty to the overall fusion-prog essence of the album. In conclusion: a masterpiece.
Review by Cesar Inca (César Inca Mendoza Loyola)
From Progarchives
A true masterpiece.Strange keyboard driven complex composition sometimes reminding King Crimson,sometimes Camel,blended with a psych feeling.

get it here


Anonymous said...

thank you sooo much!

Anonymous said...

Anyone has the 2nd album «Stadaconé»?

vdoandsound said...

anonymous- that one can be found Here