Coop Faux Monnayeurs
Similar to the French music collective Lo’Jo, Quebec’s Sagapool collectively represents a multicultural stew on its self-titled album. However, as mentioned in the press notes, Sagapool performs meditative music. Not to confuse meditative with new age, this sextet lead by clarinetist Guillaume Bourque musically ponders the Great White North, and oddly sounds like Finish or Norwegian folk music. Sure, the musicians toss the words Klezmer and Balkan around in the band’s description, and we do hear an Eastern European gypsy tinge, especially on an upbeat song Marcel, which sounds like the circus rolled into town.
However, I can draw comparisons between this Quebecois band and European musical acts, but by the end of the day, the best descriptor is original. Now, I’ve never traveled to Quebec so I am left with a mystical description of the place--some far off land, bordering the US and the Arctic where French language and culture rule the day. This isn’t Quebecois music that I am used to hearing, but it is something classical, pastoral, and impressionistic. Sagapool manages to draw on European influences while bringing this music to the snowy climes of Montreal, reminding me of Finland, of all places. Sagapool has more in common with Frigg or Maria Kalimeni than the big names of acoustic Quebecois music. Take a listen to Dù, for instance, with its slow klezmer accordion, clarinet, and battery of drums or the contemplative opener, with a title of longitude and latitude coordinates or the slow piano chanson, Entracte.
Today with so much traveling and musical exchange, music bleeds through genres, leaving journalist such as myself scrambling for descriptors. In the end, I say just pick up the CD and you decide. Similar to a good fantasy writer, Sagapool creates a world within a world, and if you don’t drop breadcrumbs along the way, you might end up getting lost in the woods of Quebec.