Firstly, an apology to the band. This review has sat half-finished, or half-started depending on your point of view, for about 4 months now. My muse is an elusive creature these days, I’m afraid.
Call it what you will; chamber rock, avant rock, boogie française, the music of French-Canadian iconoclasts Miriodor has been buried deep within that country within a country aka Quebec for ten albums’ worth of time, or 38 years in a linear sense. They are based within the self-contained musical community of Montreal, a scene that covers all bases from electro-acoustic, to noise rock, to chamber music, and has a deeply rooted jazz scene. Miriodor draw on all of this and more to construct seemingly delicate yet very tough musical lattice-works that are beguiling and edgy in equal measure.
Keyboard player Pascal Globensky, guitarist and bassist Bernard Falaise, and drummer Rémi Leclerc set off on their journey of construction with the building blocks of this malleable stuff on opener Boomerang, an impish confection that skitters along with its contrapuntal tail in the air, until a step change to an off-kilter boogie is indicated by the firing up of a car engine. Watch out! It’s going to come back and hit you in the head!
With only six tracks filling just short of 43-minutes – incidentally, within the timeframe of ideal album length as far as I’m concerned – each tune has the time to stretch out its themes and draw us willing listeners into soundworlds of no little complexity, leavened by the lightness of touch of a feather boa. The band’s impish sense of fun shines through on Alambic, its slightly heady distillations skipping along in playful fashion. As with all the tunes on Elements, there is a lot going on here, and one’s attention is always caught by a twinkling right at the edge of one’s field of vision. This leads the listener down many a winding path, willingly lost in its twists and turns.
“Chicken-Bicycle” wins track title of the day. Does this imply a chicken riding a bike, or a half chicken-half bicycle machine-animal hybrid? Where’s the saddle? All these questions and a recipe for chicken-chain oil soup are supplied within the entangled grooves of a tune you wouldn’t dance to unless you had a spare knee joint on your left leg.
The album ends with the two longest (just) tracks, as I assume they think our heads are now firmly ensconced in Miriodorland, and they’d be right. Much musical oddity is thrown our way over the combined 16 minutes 24 seconds of Embuscade and Conflit d’Horaires, both titles inferring that there’s a battle going on. “Ambush”, logically, creeps up on us unawares, the first part of the tune as near to pastoral as Miriodor get, but you can sense a tension in the air. Look! There’s summat a-creepin’ through the bushes!
The understated menace continues into the highly choreographed Conflit d’Horaires, a tune that even briefly threatens heaviosity in places. It is a composition that in keeping with all of Elements has had a lot of thought and care put into it, and it is only hoped that you lovers of the wonky music out there will investigate this rarefied offering. “Modern prog rock with a twist?” they describe themselves. No need for the question mark methinks. Allez le Quebecois!
01. Boomerang (5:16)
02. Alambic (7:11)
03. Tour de Main (8:03)
04. Poulet-Bicyclette (5:54)
05. Embuscade (8:07)
06. Conflit d’Horaires (8:17)
Total Time – 42:48
Bernard Falaise – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Banjo, Turntable
Pascal Globensky – Keyboards, Synthesisers, Piano
Rémi Leclerc – Drums, Percussion, Electronics
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
Country of Origin: Canada
Date of Release: 28th October 2022