Contraction squared for mocm


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Origin: Montréal, Québec, 🇨🇦

One of the most important Progressive rock albums coming from La Belle Province was Dimension M (released in 71) from frontman FRANK DERVIEUX, and his back-up band happened to be the group that would call themselves CONTRACTION after Dervieux's sickness that would eventually take his life at a tragically low age. Not only was he all too young, but Dimension M is one of the defining albums for the coming prog tsunami that would flood Quebec throughout most of the 70's and it helped the Quebecois cultural revolution. Most musicologists would agree that after ROBERT CHARLEBOIS daring to sing with his Joual accent from the late 60's onwards, the few early rock groups around in the early 70's also dared singing in French (OCTOBRE, OFFENBACH, DYONISOS, LES CHAMPIGNONS) whereas many others still sung in English (MAHOGANY RUSH, MORSE CODE TRANSMISSION etc), and Frank's Dimension M was one of the most influential in that respect (although it has yet to be reissued on the Cd format) and gave a boost to many other groups.

Sooo, DERVIEUX's backing band decided to remain together and recorded their self-titled debut album, which was released in early 72 in both French and English version (there was still that temptation) with that famous arresting artwork depicting a baby curled up in an ear, artwork which hinted at the upcoming birth of a prog boom. The group evolved around songwriting bassist Laferriere and keyboardist Lachapelle, but had a very charming stage presence due to Christiane Robichaud's sensual and suave vocals. Robichaud's vocals would leave a definitive influence on Quebec's female vocals in the rock realm. This debut album consolidated the group in its endeavours. During 73, the group got mixed in with the VILLE EMARD BLUES BAND, a jazz-rock adventure that would last less than two years, but reunited almost everyone in the Quebec scene.

But this was nothing yet, compared to the group's following album released in early 74 called La Bourse Ou La Vie, which would create a real frenzy, causing all sorts of groups to start up that year, including HARMONIUM, MANEIGE, MORSE CODE (switching to French singing and dropping the "transmission"), TOUBABOU, OPUS 5, SLOCHE to all release their debut albums with the next 18 months. La Bourse Ou La Vie is an excellent indefinable mix of influences where a slight jazzy prog-rock seems to be the prime ingredient, but hardly the only one. The album's name is a reaction to the heavy pressures of their record label to ask them to be more commercial, but they refused, using that hold-up catch phrase. Indeed, if the tracks on the A side were still very much like their debut album, almost all of the flipside is taken by the 18-minutes title track with a slight Canterbury twist and some Crimson touches.

The group broke up after the legendary St Jean Festival on the Mont Royal with Harmonium, BEAU DOMMAGE, LES SEGUINS, Octobre and more. (This particular event was so successful that it involuntarily was leading Quebec youth into independent Quebec frame of mind, along with the arrival of the Parti Québecois to power and the separatism issue that would spoil intra-Canada relations between Quebec and the rest of the country) Two years later, bassist Laferrière released a solo album (included in Contraction's page), which still had some of Contraction's paw written all over it.
-Hugues Chantraine

Argued as Quebec’s first mainstream progressive rock band, Contraction was formed in 1971 after Christiane Robichaud was asked to do guest vocals on Franck Dervieux’s DIMENSION M album, an early keyboards based quasi-symphonic project.
Robichaud was a member of the Ville Emard Blues Band, a Montreal ensemble that was instrumental in many Quebec radio and TV broadcasts, as well as recordings at the time. There she met bassist Yves Laferriere, and after striking up a musical raport, decided to form a group of their own. During some early rehearsals, they took on guitarist Michel Robidoux, and drummer Christian St Roch, then Rawn Bankley as the second guitarist and Robert Lachapelle on keyboards. Like Robichaud, everyone had ties to VEBB.

They continued developing a style based on the various eclectic sounds around them, and after a few months on the Montreal circuit, they were signed by Columbia Records. With Dervieux lending a production hand, were in and out of the recording studio by Christmas ’71. During recording, Robert Stanley came in on guitars, and Denis Farmer and Marcel Huot both did drum tracks, hung around, and eventually both became full-fledge members. All three were fellow VEBB alumni.

Their self-titled debut was released the following spring, quickly becoming one of the hottest selling francophone albums in the province. The label sent them back to the studios to record slightly altered arrangements with English vocals, gave the songs English titles, and released that version of the album with the same jacket by summer ’72. Largely keyboards/piano-based light bluesy rock, it drew equal inspiration from local folk music and British and American progressive rock. It produced one single from the French version, “Ste-Melanie Blues” b/w the instrumental “Pixieland,” and also contained the lead-off “Chant Patriotique” (“We Made It”), “Delire” (“Star Child”), and “Fin du Commencement” (End of the Beginning”). It became a hit on Quebec’s airwaves, with several tracks getting decent FM play.

For the next couple of years, they made some live appearances throughout Quebec and the Ottawa Valley, and found themselves some gigs at outdoor festivals. Robidoux and Bankley had both left to pursue solo careers, and St Roch was replaced behind the drums by Richard Perotte. By this time, Joey Armando and Jimmy Tanaka were added on percussion, and Carlyle Miller on sax and flute became part of the group.

Capitol had dropped them by this point, and the band found a new home at Deram, a small Montreal-based independent label. They released LA BOURSE A LA VIE in the summer of ’74, dedicated to the recently passed away Franck Dervieux. A French-only album, it followed in the same vein as its predecessors, combining strong vocal harmonies with symphonic elements in the three-part title track, the instrumental “Jos Coeur,” and funky grooves in “Claire Fontaine” and “L’Alarme À l’Oeil.”

After the album did nothing on the charts and instilled no confidence in the cash-strapped label’s execs, the band was dropped, but carried on until 1976, with Laferriere and Robichaud as the base. Several tracks written and recorded for a third album, eventually appeared on Laferrièrre’s solo album LA CUISINE ROUGE in 1978.

Both French Contraction albums were released individually in the late ’90s on the ProgQuebec label, and also resurrected a 1974 Montreal radio station studio performance, releasing it as LIVE 1974 in 2009. Along with select cuts from the two albums, it also featured two different versions of “Sagesse,” previously unreleased.



Contraction squared for mocm



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