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DE TEMPS ANTAN - Les Habits De Papier

DE TEMPS ANTAN - Les Habits De Papier
L’Abe LABCD1982

Three guys from Quebec - fiddle, accordion and bouzouki - and they all sing too. Reminds me of a song by La Volée d'Castors, but there's more. All three members of De Temps Antan stamp vigorously and rhythmically (an obligatory part of Quebec music) and one of them plays the jaw harp for reasons not well understood, another essential part of Quebec culture: but this trio has added the requirement to dress entirely in newspaper. While this may have certain practical advantages, where I come from we can't even do this to fish and chips - health and safety - so I recommend that you listen to these musicians from a safe distance and on no account attempt to eat them.

Who are these chaps who are so keen to get themselves into the papers? On page one we have Eric Beaudry, singer and strummer, who joined Quebec's premier folk group La Bottine Souriante in 2003. On page two is André Brunet, fiddler extraordinaire, formerly of La Bottine and now with Celtic Fiddle Festival. Page 3 features Pierre-Luc Dupuis, founder of Les Langues Fourchues and another former member of La Bottine Souriante, who incidentally also plays harmonica. Together these three have released two albums: this is the second and the third is in press. With their pedigree, you'd expect something a bit special from De Temps Antan - and they certainly deliver. Songs, reels, jigs, more reels: it's all good stuff.

La Turlutte Du Rotoculteur is a piece of French Canadian lilting which runs into a reel as the bouzouki picks up the melody, followed by the fiddle, then the harmonica. Three pairs of feet battering away, a recurring theme in both songs and instrumentals here. The songs carry the day, seven tracks to six, but most songs have a tune or two spliced into the arrangement, so it's hard to keep score. Les Habits De Papier is really a win-win CD in any case, as the singing rivals the playing for energy and lift: not a lot of sad songs here. There are a couple of bittersweet airs, both by André, whose names translate as The Tooth Fairy and The French Stream: the latter picks up pace to finish this recording on a high, in keeping with the high-octane character of most tracks here. With roughly half their material composed by the band and half drawn direct from traditional sources, De Temps Antan provide a good representation of current Quebec folk music: the website links to samples on iTunes, a bit modern for some, but worth the pain to hear this outstanding trio.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.