Transhumance - Transhumance (Self-released CS)
Still on that Hototogisu show I was telling you about last time we spoke, I actually did buy something that wasn't Bassett/Bower product. One of the openers was the best little band in all of Montreal, Ste-Sophie (I reviewed a cassette they did a while ago here if you need a reference). After they towelled off from slaying down an atypical "prog" set, they set up shop and sold this tape to me. Unfortunately this is where having a poor memory is a real curse, because I can't even remember if Transhumance is actually one of the Ste-Sophie guys or a friend of the band...I'm pretty sure it's one of the guys doing a solo one-off, but things are pretty foggy upstairs. The tale told about the tape is that whoever's responsible for it took a trip to Switzerland in 2004, and came across a Ampex 1/4 reel recorded "in the early 70's" containing the sounds used for the A-side. The B-side is taken from a field recording made while on the same trip, in La Forclaz of the Swiss Alps. The results were whittled down and put on this cassette (recorded over some sort of new-age Matol recording, god knows what could've been on that) and come wrapped up in a deliriously intricate, hand-drawn sleeve, with insert.
I gotta say though, the story about the "found" reel is just too fantastic for me to buy stock in, especially since it sounds so...current? I dunno man, if it really was recorded in the early 70's, I demand to know by whom and for what purpose because it's predating a heckuvalotuv explorations that went down in the thirty or so years to come. Or maybe what's heard here is a re-working of the original source sound. I dunno. Either way it's a really slick, 25-ish minute romp of reverb-soaked solo guitar calisthetics and equally-fried organ or keyboard tones. It resonates with the kind of glossy, billowy frequencies not usually heard in these kinds of non-percussed zone out. It sounds almost at times like an inverted Michael Morley/Gate excursion, with all the frazzle and none of the punishment - just total mellowed out, acid-riddled, (e)xpressway riding with no real purpose, just a feel for the road. I guess if we're going to be talking 70's reality, one way to think of it would be a sprawling free guitar solo completely isolated from the rest of the surrounding jam, maybe executed by the likes of Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Dead, or Hawkwind. But even then I still think it sounds like something you could pull off a side from the Phil Todd, or Mick Flower, or Neil Campbell. Fuck dude, I'm really bamboozled. What was that Hijokaidan track called, "Bad Character, But Great Sound"? Something like that.
The flip is a bit less interesting with no myth to accompany it, but it's a field recording, basically an eternally-clanging cowbell played over the occasional sounds of outdoorsy chatter, French conversations between a man and a woman, some rustic farm sounds (a cow's mooing introduces the piece), and an explicit amount of tape hiss which could even be the best part. Think Thuja's Loren Chasse at his most in-touch with mother earth, or just a dude in the Alps with an old tape deck. It is what it is, basically. Although with the Ste-Sophie crew, I'm never sure if it is what it really is, if you know what I mean.
No idea where you can even start trying to get ahold of this if you would like to, unless you live in the area. That said, it'll still probably wind up on the Bull Tongue end of year best of somehow. In terms of Ste-Sophie news you need to know, I hear faint rumblings of a 12" split with another Montreal warlord that'll be the bee's knees in the cat's pajamas if it ever happens. I've been saying my prayers every night though, so I'll keep you posted in case it turns up under my pillow one morning.