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Elastic Juggling

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Album Review

On this, Miriodor's most successful Cuneiform Records CD until the release of the even stronger Mekano in 2001, the Montreal avant-rockers present music of often startling juxtapositions to depict the lives of characters in a demented circus. The CD features concise, intricately arranged compositions and sudden shifts in mood from one typically short track to the next (18 pieces in all, ranging in length from seven minutes to nine seconds!). As with Miriodor's previous release, Avertissement/3rd Warning, the core band remains a trio, with original members keyboardist Pascal Globensky and drummer Rémi Leclerc joined by newcomer Bernard Falaise on guitar, bass, mandolin, and synthesizers. Falaise's guitar gives this CD a harder, grittier edge than the band's previous trio recordings, which were usually dominated by synths and saxophones. Reedman Sabin Hudon, a major presence on all of Miriodor's previous recordings, is given honorary mention on the CD sleeve, and contributes some blistering sax solos (as well as calmer, lyrical moments on accordion). Hudon is no longer quite a full member of the band, but is featured more prominently than the many guest artists (Claude Saint-Jean, trombone; Stéphanie Simard, violin; James Darling, cello; Jean-Denis Levasseur, flute; Ivanhoe Jolicoeur, trumpet; Stefka Iordanova, vocals) who are called upon to assist in bringing the often complex arrangements to life. Listening to Elastic Juggling can be a bit like experiencing coastal weather — wait five minutes and a change is bound to happen — although the thematic consistency pulls it all together quite nicely in the end. There are many highlights. "Poupées Russes/Babouchka" is an impossibly sharp, frenetic workout for guitar, keyboards, and percussion that's seemingly over before it even starts. "Igor, l'Ours à Moto" ("Igor, the Motorbike Bear") features a violin/cello/acoustic guitar intro that's obliterated by a central passage loaded with speed metal riffing, screaming sax, and burning slide guitar (which, in turn, is followed by another abrupt shift, this time into a lilting, off-meter folkish dance with acoustic instruments in layers of counterpoint). "Mrs. X," a dark and ominous neo-classical progressive rock piece, echoes Cuneiform labelmates Univers Zero. Each of Miriodor's scattered releases during the '80s and '90s improved upon the last, a welcome long-term trend that shows no sign of letting up during the new millennium.


Formed: 1980 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As of 2013 and the release of Cobra Fakir, Montreal avant-prog group Miriodor were still carrying the flag they first hoisted over 30 years earlier as one of the first groups on the "rock" side of the Quebec-based musique actuelle equation. At their inception, Miriodor could also be viewed as North American practitioners of the Rock in Opposition (RIO) style pioneered by such European groups as Henry Cow, Etron Fou Leloublan, Débile Menthol — instrumental prog rock with the requisite technical...
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Elastic Juggling, Miriodor
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