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Klaxon Gueule: "horn scream." With a name like that, you would expect something noisy, even hardcore, but instead what you get is a free improv trio with strong leanings toward electro-acoustic textures. Ambiances Magnétiques drummer Michel F. Côté's main musical vehicle since the late ‘90s, Klaxon Gueule took part in the avant-garde movement that redefined free improvisation by putting more emphasis on silence and real-time sound treatment.
From the late ‘80s up to the late ‘90s, Côté's personal work (as opposed to his music for film and theater) was directed toward his shapeshifting project Bruire. By 1997, he wanted to do something more specific: jazz-based free improvisation. Feeling the need for fresh blood, he recruited Miriodor guitarist Bernard Falaise (with whom he had worked on soundtracks for filmmaker Robert Lepage) and Alexandre St-Onge, then a young jazz bassist. The trio began to perform a raucous form of ecstatic jazz and released the double set Bavards ("talkative") on Ambiances Magnétiques in 1997 — saxophonist Christopher Cauley augments the lineup on disc two.
In the following months, St-Onge immersed himself completely in experimental sound art. He stopped playing conventional bass altogether, using the body of the instrument to produce cavernous sounds he treated with live electronics or hammering on an electric bass. He released his first solo album Image/Négation on Alien8 Recordings and joined Christof Migone in the contact-microphone duo Undo. Instead of searching for a more suitable bassist, Falaise and Côté followed his lead, developing a textural approach exactly in phase with the rising electro-acoustic improv scene in Europe. The group's second CD released in 1999 revealed the transformation, the title Muets ("mute") cramming into one word a large part of the story. This change of heart (and sound) gave Klaxon Gueule quite an edge and attracted international attention. What had started as a side project became a locomotive for Côté and Falaise (St-Onge also achieved some success with Shalabi Effect). The group appeared at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville and the Taktlos Festival. Grain (2002) features guest appearances by Sam Shalabi and Migone. ~ François Couture, Rovi