Exposé Online banner

Maneige — Libre Service - Self Service
(ProgQuébec MPM10, 1978/2006, CD)

Maneige — Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle
(ProgQuébec MPM09, 1977/2006, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-07-01

Libre Service - Self Service Cover artNi Vent... Ni Nouvelle Cover art

Of all the Quebecois bands that came to prominence in the 70s, one of the most unique and universally appreciated is Maneige. During their career which spanned from around '72 through the mid 80s, the six-piece produced six studio albums and one live release. The band had two distinct phases; the early phase which would include the albums Maneige and Les Porches ('75 and '76 respectively) was characterized by a very lush symphonic sound accented with percussive elements, lengthy multi-part suites, and delicate arrangements. In the later phase, from around 1979 onward, and including the albums Montréal 6AM and Images, the band took on a more percussive powered melodic jazz-rock approach. Between these two phases was a transitional period (although the case could easily be made that the band's sound was always in a state of flux), which saw the release of these two albums recently reissued on Kozak/Mezzo. With very few exceptions, the bands' entire output is solely instrumental.

Ni Vent... Ni Nouvelle was the first of the transitional albums, a point at which their sound was a very rich and subtle blend of many elements, where points of comparison might be Soft Machine or Gentle Giant, but with the prominence of percussion they might also be thought of as a symphonic version of Pierre Moerlen's Gong. Reedsman/flautist Alain Bergeron and keyboardist Vincent Langlois deliver colorful melodics to the top end of the mix, while the stunt-rhythm section of Yves Leonard (bass) and Gilles Schetagne (drums) keep the structures lively and unpredictable with frequent sig and tempo changes. Langlois, guitarist Denis Lapierre and percussionist Paul Picard (glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone, wood-blocks) work both ends, giving Maneige's music its unique dynamic character. In addition, the band has brought in a string quartet on two of the tracks, and André Pechat delivers a splendid soprano sax solo on "Mambo Chant." There are many standouts here, and the various band members offer a variety of compositional styles.

A year later, Libre Service is convincing evidence of the band moving into more jazz-rock realms. The lineup remained the same, yet all the tracks are now group compositions, and perhaps stronger for it. The arrangements – while still encompassing a strong melodic spirit, wide range of dynamics, and an even greater variety of styles (latin, funk, Zappa-like counterpoint), are definitely more high-gear and electrified. Much of the symphonic lushness of the previous three albums is in remission, having been replaced by a more assertive, no-nonsense approach. Both albums are outstanding, but different – different points on the band's developmental continuum. I find it difficult to recommend one over the other, they both shine equally bright. Perhaps listeners of a jazz-rock or Zappa/RIO oriented background may find Libre Service a bit more to their liking, while fans of symphonic progressive rock may want to start with Ni Vent... If in doubt, buy them both!


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 7, 2006 releases, 1978 recordings, 1977 recordings

Related artist(s): Maneige

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Farpoint - Cold Star, Quiet Star – Let me cut to the chase. Cold Star, Quiet Star is undoubtedly one of 2008's best progressive releases and it is Farpoint's fourth album. They have been around since 1997, and it shows. Just pop their...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues