The progressive rock scene in the province of Québec's in the 70's was one of burgeoning prosperity, and probably no band typified this or capitalized on this more than Maneige. The group which was formed by pianist and multi-instrumentalist Jérôme Langlois in 1972 remained one of the most consistent acts on the scene before disbanding in the early 80's. In 1975 they released both their self titled debut as well as their second effort entitled Les Porches.
Unfortunately while Les Porches was largely considered a step in the right direction due to the fact that it allowed the band to stretch out and expand their ideas into not one but two lengthy compositions, this change in musical direction inevitably led to Langlois' departure shortly thereafter and Maneige's sound on their next few albums would shift yet again, focusing on shorter songs with a jazzier approach.
The title track "Les Porches De Notre-Dame penned by flutist / sax man Alain Bergeron is an absolutely epic, multi-themed piece of music that features an array of dazzling flute, saxophone and clarinet interplay between himself and Jérôme which lends light, almost windswept textures to the whole composition. The song's second half is also notable for a brief yet sparking piano solo from brother Vincent Langlois and closes with Jérôme's blazing guitar work. "La Grosse Torche" is a short track that features a beautiful classical string arrangement written by Jérôme and proves just how integral he was in developing Maneige's unique classical and folk inspired influences. The second epic track on Les Porches is "Les Adventures De Saxinette Et Claraphone" which like the title track is divided up into musical chapters. As the title loosely makes reference to, the song not only allows both Bergeron and Langlois the opportunity to once again combine their talents on woodwinds, but this composition also focuses on an adventurous and complex arrangement that is in keeping with the top notch British progressive acts of the late 60's and 70's. The closing track " Chromo" another Bergeron composition concludes this disc in resplendent fashion.
Quite honestly I don't think the province of Québec ever produced anything as artistically successful or musically rewarding as Maneige. All of their albums from their back catalog, which have been re-released by ProgQuébec are definitely worth checking out and you cannot go wrong with any of them. In my opinion though the first two studio albums, and two live albums recorded with founder Jérôme Langlois yielded some of the most magical and timeless music ever produced in this country. Les Porches is quite simply a classic.
1) Les Porches De Notre-Dame (19 :14)
2) La Grosse Torche (1:24)
3) Les Adventures De Saxinette Et Claraphone (15:41)
4) Chromo (4:13)