Canadian, Québécois sonic alchemist-guitarist-composer René Lussier lives in the middle of nowhere for more than two decades. His house seems buried in the trees, below the dirt road that ends in a cul-de-sac, and no one comes to his place by chance. In French, they say that he lives «au diable vert», anywhere and everywhere, but this old French phrase also means a place where you may find yourself lost without really knowing when exactly you lost your bearings.
Lussier’s new album Au diable vert suggests the same spirit. A magical set of joyful, eccentric and ironic songs that seduce you to move forward blindly and hold on until the end of the journey. Lussier began composing these songs during the Covid-19 pandemic, first alone and then with his quintet – accordion and marimba player Luzio Altobelli, tuba and euphonium player Julie Houle, drummer-percussionist Robbie Kuster and drummer Marton Maderspach, that met in the studio after 15 months of only digital correspondences. Slowly these songs changed and were fine-tuned to accommodate a few distinguished guests: klezmer clarinetist Guillaume Bourque, trombonist Alain Trudel, Japanese vocal artist Koichi Makigami and ondes Martenot player Takashi Harada and British Chris Cutler (who releases this album on his ReR Megacorp label) reading his poem on the state of the world («… little learned and less explained, the winner losses».
As always, Lussier is fascinated with the French language and the suggestive and poetic Québécois dialect. The nine dramatic songs play with poetic sonic associations triggered by phrases spoken by the voices of the musicians, Lussier’s own voice talking with his therapist, but also the opinionated purr of the wandering tomcat who comes to ask for kibble, and the bewitching songs of frogs that found the remote place Lussier calls home. These beautiful songs are full of imaginative and inventive surprises, and often bring fond memories of Frank Zappa, as both Lussier and Zappa enjoy syncopated grooves, gifted with generous doses of sharp humor and constantly shift and dance between prog-rock, free jazz and free improvisation. Lussier even adds the aroma of touching, modern-day chansons. Fittingly, Au diable vert ends with a liberating, heartfelt laugh.
Lussier composes songs like no other, with childish innocence and mature compassion, and always charged with a sly sense of fun. Au diable vert guarantees to take you on a bewitching mystery tour to the middle of anywhere and nowhere and color your day with brighter, mind-expanding colors.
René Lussier (g, basse perc), Luzio Altobelli (acc, marimba), Julie Houle (tuba, euphonium), Robbie Kuster (dr, mbira, claps), Marton Maderspach (dr), Guillaume Bourque (cl), Alain Trudel (tb), Koichi Makigami (v), Takashi Harada (ondes Martenot), Chris Cutler (v)