The second album from the Canadian band Contraction shows the group expanding on their wonderful sound and changing their lineup around a little. The music is slightly heavier but still retains the breezy quality of their debut. The vocals of Christiane Robichaud get even better if that can be possible. The guitar work of Robert Stanley is more out front and Robert Lachapelle adds more electric keyboards and synths into the fray.
After listening closely to this album, one thing that impresses me quite a bit is the multi-tracked vocals. As if Christiane wasn’t impressive enough as a solo singer, there are many spots on this album where she can be heard harmonizing with herself. If this isn’t musical bliss, I don’t know what is. A good example of this would be the fourth track “Sam m’Madown”, a very playful romp with a bluesy, funky backing.
According to the liner notes, La Bourse ou La Vie was dedicated to Franck Dervieux, the late composer with whom Christiane and bassist Yves Laferričre worked closely with on Dimension M, one of the first progressive rock albums from Quebec. Translated, the title means “Your Money Or Your Life” and it was a bold statement about the music industry pressuring artists to produce more commercially accessible music. It’s quite ironic, that an idea so apparently bold and revolutionary is still as relevant in the music world more than thirty years later. The title track is the embodiment of this idea, an uncompromising 18 minute epic tune that pulls out all the stops. Although this is going to be the standout track for most prog fans, there really isn’t a dull moment on the entire album.
La Bourse ou La Vie is the perfect compliment to Contraction’s self-titled debut album. The only thing I couldn’t quite understand is why they didn’t just release them both on the same CD. I guess they feel that both albums deserve individual attention and they can make a few more bucks selling them this way. Music this good is definitely worth every penny but if you find yourself a little strapped for cash, I’d say pick this one up first and soon after listening to it you won’t be able to live without the first one.
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