Posts Tagged ‘le vent du nord’

New issue preview: July (#109)

Posted on June 4th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .


A Sufi Stance; we catch up with the Senegalese veteran at home in Dakar and chat to the singer about his spiritual antidote to hardline Islam.

Other features include Buena Vista’s Eliades Ochoa & Omara Portuondo as they continue their farewell tour; Criolo, the hugely popular Brazilian rapper and singer, reveals that he almost didn’t record his second album; a Beginner’s Guide to Dominican music star Juan Luis Guerra; plus the latest album, book and world cinema reviews to get stuck into.

The issue’s Top of the World covermount CD includes brand new tracks from Seckou Keita, Dele Sosimi and Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, plus a playlist from soul singer Joss Stone, who talks about her ambitious Total World Tour.

On sale in the UK from June 12. Click here to purchase your copy now.

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Album Review | Top of the World | Le Vent Du Nord – Têtu

Posted on May 9th, 2015 in Recent posts, Reviews by .


By Tim Woodall

Le-Vent-du-Nord-TeTuJoyous harmonies from the breezy boys of the north

Québécois quartet Le Vent du Nord really hit home with Tromper Le Temps in 2012, a punchy set of flying reels, hearty call-and-response singing and, most importantly, cracking tunes. Happily Têtu (Headstrong) picks up where its predecessor left off. The songs just fly past, concerning love, folklore, politics and the celebration of Francophone culture in particular, as on ‘Confédération’. What stands out about the music of this band of longstanding is its power and vitality. Each member sings very well and when three of them answer the fourth with a distinctively fragrant vibrato, the songs soar.

Their playing is equal to the vocals, however, and they tear into each dance. Accordion, guitar and whirring hurdy-gurdy form the key instrumentation but each member adds to the sound, with a range of instruments from bouzouki and mandolin to Réjean Brunet’s pinging, disruptive Jew’s harp. Olivier Demers’ driving fiddle and foot-tapping is particularly propulsive on the raw and fierce ‘Cardeuse – Reipoel’. Le Vent du Nord can do soft and gentle too, as they show with ‘Pauvre Enfant’, a mournful but still somehow uplifting ballad, with the band supported by a string quartet. Québec couldn’t hope for better advocates of its folk music.

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Top of the World Review: Le Vent du Nord – Tromper le Temps

Posted on September 8th, 2012 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Words by Tim Woodall

From gentle breezes to fierce gales

Having released seven records during their ten years together, Le Vent du Nord are clearly not short of inspiration. The Québec quartet’s infectious take on French-Canadian roots music has brought them worldwide attention and Tromper le Temps finds them riding the crest of a wave.

The band’s signature approach is to combine traditional lyrics or subjects with newly composed – and catchy – melodies and foot-stomping reels. Violin, accordion, guitar and hurdy-gurdy make up the group’s core sound but each member plays multiple instruments and all sing. Indeed, their use of call-and-response vocals is one of this album’s greatest joys, giving their tunes a feeling of warmth and camaraderie. Examples include ‘Toujours Amants’, a Shetland-style fiddle and accordion tune with a lovely walking bass in the piano part, and ‘Le Souhait’, a jaunty song of love. Not all the lyrics on Tromper le Temps are about love, loss and legend though. The opening track, ‘Lettre à Durham’, takes aim at the British general who suggested that French-Canadians be assimilated in the mid-19th century while another tune rails against a modern political issue, the mining of shale gas.

Whatever the subject matter, Le Vent du Nord’s musicianship is from the top draw throughout and the tunes are nearly all memorable. Just a couple of the later, slower songs don’t quite stand up next to the Celtic whirl of the dances but in the main, Tromper le Temps is an inspired disc. 

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Songlines Encounters

Posted on June 14th, 2012 in Recent posts, Reviews by .

Photos by Hayden Wheeler

Wednesday June 6

The UK premiere of Poland’s R.U.T.A. certainly lived up to expectations. Punk singer Guma was as loud and gobby as ever, but the Kings Place technical people did a great job on the sound so the subtleties of the weird instrumentation – archaic fiddles, saz, bass clarinet and percussion – came over much clearer than when I’d heard them in Poland. Nasta Niakrasava (pictured below), from Belarus, is a wonderful folk singer who brings warm, melodic vocals to the punkish frenzy. R.U.T.A. also brought Polish headbangers to Kings Place for the first time – some that I spoke to had come all the way from Bognor Regis! Hopefully this had led to R.U.T.A. getting other UK bookings this summer, but most satisfying was esteemed Songlines’ editor Jo Frost, who’d been sceptical about the band, admitting that she’d loved them. Don’t miss their session on Radio 3’s World on 3 at 23.00 on Fri June 22.


Thurs June 7

Tonight saw an accordion and tango link that worked in practise as well as theory. Finnish accordion and double-bass duo Lepistö & Lehti play superbly inventive music with gently humorous introductions. Their most spectacular song is ‘Raudanskelä’ (Blacksmith) in which Markku Lepistö evokes sparks with ferociously difficult accordion flourishes while Pekka Lehti strikes his bass with a stick (from an African mouth bow with natural rubber which gives it a great sound for hitting). Kosmos Trio (pictured below) were playing with Serbian accordionist Miloš Milivojević, who has a different and more robust style than Lepistö. Their lead fiddler, Harriet Mackenzie, is formidable referencing Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending as well as the popular Romanian encore tune ‘Ciocarlia’ (The Lark) in her virtuoso playing.  The Fugata Quintet were a fiery finish with Astor Piazzolla – his music is so dark and edgy, with all that violin scratching on the bridge, and yet so gorgeously lyrical. They seemed a little too buried in their scores compared to the visible musical interaction we’d had earlier in the evening.


Fri June 8

Two quartets tonight. Spiro brought a stylish start to the evening, although they seemed more gutsy in the more relaxed setting of Sam Lee’s Magpie’s Nest a couple of months back. But I love the unique invention in their music. I went to the Escher museum in the Hague recently and his graphic art with its repetitive images and optical illusions made me think of Spiro’s music. They were followed by Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord (pictured below) also giving their particular take on traditional sounds. Their music has an unstoppable forward propulsion, driven largely by Oliver Demers “on the fiddle and the feet.” How do you play the violin while simultaneously step-tapping? A magnificent show – and they feature in a World on 3 session this Friday June 15.  I only managed to catch the first part of the intriguing Sam Lee and Friend’s show. But Lee is a charismatic front man, telling good yarns about the songs he’s collected and arranged for a very diverse group of instruments – including Japanese koto, tabla and a tuned gamelan-like gas canister. We’ve got a feature on him next issue.


Sat June 9

Mr Lee featured again as vocalist with the Yiddish Twist Orchestra tonight, in a rather different persona – dapper and hip-swivelling – but a suitable foil to Ben Mandelson’s understated humour. The music is both Yiddish favourites (‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen’, popularised by the Andrews sisters in the 1930s) and unknown numbers (sorry I didn’t know any), given a Calypso and Latin flavour. The irresistible urge to dance – led by our recent My World guest Roger Lloyd Pack – caused anxiety with the Kings Place front-of-house. It’s a real shame that they don’t want you dancing in the aisles. Sadly I was unable to catch Lauren Kinsella’s Thought-Fox with oud player Soufian Saihi, but talking to enthusiastic audience members afterwards it sounded like a great show with its Arab-Andalouz meets jazz ingredient. The Madagascar All Stars (pictured below) finished the evening with really glorious music, perfectly suited to the crystal- clear acoustics of the Kings Place concert hall.  The four musicians – Dama, Justin Vali, Marius Fenoamby and Erick Manana – sang unaccompanied at first and then laid into their guitars, percussion and gorgeous instruments like valiha and marovany. Dama was an accomplished MC, although French is his first second language! He’d flown in from Madagascar for two concerts in Southampton and London and then was off the next morning to perform with his other band, Mahaleo, in La Reunion. It was a great privilege having them. 

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