Le Vent du Nord,
Maudite Moisson
(Borealis, 2003)

Toronto's Borealis has, in a few short years, established itself as the label of choice for many Canadian folk artists. And with Le Vent du Nord, they seem to have found one of the better new groups performing traditional Quebecois music.

On Maudite Moisson, Le Vent du Nord (which translates as "The North Wind") presents 14 songs in a lively neo-traditional setting (by which I mean the use of acoustic, traditional instruments enhanced by modern studio techniques and contemporary song-structure). The able veteran musicians are band members Nicolas Boulerice (vocal, hurdy-gurdy, piano, bodhran), Benoit Bourque (accordions, bones, mandolins, foot-percussion), Olivier Demers (violin, guitar, mandolin, foot-percussion), Bernard Simard (vocals, guitar and foot-percussion) and friends.

On "Au Bord de la Fontaine" the band establishes their sound right off the mark with a hard-driving acoustic approach and varied repertoire that picks right up from La Bottine Souriante, Manigance, Matapat (with whom these band members have performed) and other Quebec traditional artists. The waltz "Les trois freres Roy" is nicely done and "Chers amis buvons," a drinking song, has some excellent moments.

Le Vent du Nord goes to the archives for much of the material on Maudite Moisson. They even chose a selection from Acadie-Quebec, a landmark album of field recordings done in the 1950s. The bluesy arrangement of "Par un Dimanche au Soir" is a new way to present this material (one I'm not certain I agree with, but so be it).

Boulerice's hurdy-gurdy sets an energetic tone throughout, as do the extensive use of traditional foot percussion. Production values on Maudite Moisson! are clear and crisp, and this full sound contributes to an overall professional package.

There's a great deal to like here, and I don't hesitate to recommend it to anyone who loves this style of music. I have reservations about anointing them as the "next big thing" coming out of Quebec -- time will tell. For now, Maudite Moisson is a likeable, listenable CD.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 25 September 2004