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Contraction: La Bourse Ou La Vie

"A Masterpiece…" – Yves Dubé, Sea Of Tranquility

If Contraction's debut album has a lofty position atop the Québecois progressive chart, than their sophomore release may very well sit at the very top of the heap. One could argue that "La Bourse Ou La Vie" is the single greatest prog recording ever from La Belle Province and score so many points during the argument as to have many naysayers rethink their stand. This album makes all the right moves and could even get a few votes in a poll dedicated to the all-time greatest progressive albums ever. I know, I know, this is coming across as nothing more than unadulterated hometown fanboyism, but I'm convinced that one spin could convert the majority of you.

Whereas their debut album seemed more like a simmering cauldron of musical ideas, "La Bourse Ou La Vie" (liberally translated as Money Or Life) is a bone fide progressive rock gem, where the musical buds from the first record bloom in full to create a magnificent bouquet. Laferriere (bass) and Stanley (guitar) are once again front and centre but this record has a much more collaborative feel to it as all members of the band contribute equally to the overall sound. What do you like about prog ? The musicianship ? The arrangements ? The melodies ? The superlative vocals ? The long, complex instrumental passages? The nostalgia ? The professionalism ? The emotion? All are present in spades on this disc. From their very original rendition of "Claire Fontaine" ( a well-know French language folk song) which literally makes this reviewer's eyes well up each time, to the 17:59 title track (which is nothing less than a full blown progressive opus), this record should be a mandatory listen to all young symphonic progressive musicians who want to hear how to do it right.

Allow me to wipe the spittle from my mouth and step off my soapbox here. I will leave you with these thoughts. If I had been asked to review this album in one word, the opening parody of a quote would have been accurate. This record, in my opinion, is a masterpiece. We review a lot of material on this site and, let's face it, there are probably more misses than hits. The reason I do it though is because every once in a while I am sent a disc which I consider to be an important progressive statement. "La Bourse Ou La Vie" is the real deal folks. Don't miss it ! Highest recommendations.

Track Listing:

  1. Jos Coeur (ouverture) (1:02)
  2. L'Alarme A L'Oeil (3:48)
  3. Claire Fontaine (5:03)
  4. Sam m'Madown (3:33)
  5. Jos Coeur (fermeture) (4:59)
  6. Vent Du Sud (0:46)
  7. La Bourse Ou La Vie (17:59)
  8. L'Ame A Tout Faire (4:58)

Added: August 19th 2005
Reviewer: Yves Dubé
Related Link:
Hits: 3893
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Contraction: La Bourse Ou La Vie
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-19 08:06:24
My Score:

A real gem of a prog record from Quebec, plain and simple. The fact that this 1974 classic from Contraction has been reissued at all is reason enough to celebrate, but the sumptuous sounds contained on the CD are the real treasure here. Sinewy guitar leads, vintage keyboards, melodic female vocals, and a style that is pure prog but bordering on fusion at times, this is what Contraction were all about. I don't pretend to understand the lyrics 'cause they are not in English, but they are sung so well and so melodic that it's not a hinderance whatsoever. These melodies soar, and the intelligent musical passages provide the perfect underpinning. There's plenty of highlights here, but some of my favorites are the gorgeous "Claire Fontaine", complete with pastoral flutes, atmospheric synths, and fluid guitar leads, and the epic title track, in all its 18 minute glory.

If you are a fan of 70's prog, regardless of the country of origin, you need this CD. For those in Canada however, you are probably way ahead of me and had this reissue in your collection the day it was released.

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