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Les chemins de verre

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Album Review

Karkwa went for a stripped-down, back-to-basics sound on Chemins de Verre, their fourth studio album. While the result could have them pegged as a Francophone answer to many bands, from Death Cab for Cutie to Gravenhurst, it will not make them rise above those bands because of the record's overly unassuming sound. There is nothing wrong with acoustic strumming, but it was no original trick even back in the day when Bob Dylan first sung "The Times They Are a-Changin'," and so a group that wants to capture the audience with this sort of music needs to either have some very convincing chords or really good atmospherics. Karkwa attempts both, but the best cuts here are still those where the folk/country core is coated in additional wrappings, like percussion, synth backdrops, and electric guitars, to make the songwriting more dynamic. Songs like "Le Bon Sens" are moving and challenging pieces, but many other tunes, which rely on a simple setup of slow acoustics or a little piano with plain vocals recited over the music, are simply too easy to tune out, becoming nothing but background sound by the start of the second verse. The good news, though, is that Chemins de Verre is still worth a listen for what it is: Karkwa may not be rivaling Early Day Miners or Sparklehorse when it comes to folk-tinged musical hypnotism, but they still do a mean job of establishing a pleasantly introspective mood — the musical equivalent of a walk in those Quebec woods on a sunny Indian summer evening. Moreover, additional spins may prove the experience to be more addictive than expected, although getting seriously lost in Chemins de Verre remains complicated.

Customer Reviews

Un excellent album

Après l'album précédent, la commande était grande. Elle est relevée habillement par les gars de Karkwa. Ils réussissent à renouveler leur son tout en gardant leur esprit original.

Chapeau Karkwa!!

Karkwa font tout simplement honneur à la musique francophone! Cette album est un chef d'oeuvre à la hauteur des attentes, surtout après avoir lancé un album du niveau du précédant. Chapeau Karkwa!


It's no surprise that Karkwa have produced another fantastic album in "The Paths of Glass." What a pleasure this one (also) is. Sounds and moods run the gamut, from those with harder edges (or moments of), to the dreamy, the happy, the techno-y, the sweeping, the voluminous, the quiet and spare, the sombre, even some with rootsy flair. Varying, cool/neat tempo changes within different songs, are also here, and which they typically do so well. The music is completely solid, some highlights are ominous guitar, pretty piano, great drums, and just tons of interesting sounds. Of course, melodic and perfect vocals. Favourites for me are: the epic '28 jours', 'Le pyromane', 'Les chemins de verre' (a particular standout), 'Moi-léger', 'Dors dans mon sang', 'La piqûre', 'Le vrai bonheur'...
I read that this was recorded almost entirely in a old mansion on the outskirts of Paris, France. It is said to have been done at a leisurely pace, spontaneously, organically, without artifice. Get this album: I think you'll agree that the results are lovely and infinitely enjoyable.
FYI: you do not need to understand French to enjoy this. If you don't have Karkwa's earlier albums, get them, they are amazing!


Formed: 1998

Genre: Musique francophone

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Karkwa only released three albums during the band's first decade together, the Canadian group garnered considerable critical acclaim during that time, eventually becoming the first francophone band to win the Polaris Music Prize. Formed in 1998 by singer/guitarist Louis-Jean Cormier, keyboardist François Lafontaine, bassist Martin Lamontagne, drummer Stephane Bergeron, and percussionist Julien Sagot, Karkwa scored a quick victory after being cherry-picked to perform at the Printemps du Quebec...
Full bio

Top Albums and Songs by Karkwa

Les chemins de verre, Karkwa
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Customer Ratings