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

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Beardfish - Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two – Beardfish’s rise to prominence is due to hard work and good music, as long as your tastes run toward the sort of modern prog that pays homage to classic 70s bands. Main man Rikard Sjöblom is one of...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues