Jean-Michel Blais is a Canadian pianist whose primarily improvised work recalls composers such as Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel as well as minimalists like Philip Glass. His works are spontaneous and emotional rather than clinical and technically precise, and he often incorporates experimental production techniques into his recordings. Blais grew up in Quebec and started playing organ and piano as a child. He began training as a classical pianist at the Trois-Rivieres Music Conservatory, but was more interested in pursuing his own path. After spending time in Berlin and South America, during which he sporadically created music, he moved to Montreal and began taking music-making seriously again. Arts & Crafts released Blais' debut album II in 2016. This was followed by Cascades, a collaboration with CFCF, in 2017. ~ Paul Simpson
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Classical - Released May 11, 2018 | Arts & Crafts Productions Inc.
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Qobuzissime
A 31 year-old Canadian, Jean-Michel Blais is no stranger to the neoclassical stage. After a first album bearing the sober title "II", on Caroline Distribution, this offering consists of a new collection of tracks, (most of which have already been released separately over recent weeks) which are possessed of an irrepressible lyricism. On board his piano, which he has transformed into a magical music box, he travels with the winds, following the currents of his own insatiable creativity. In the middle, Blind, perhaps the most seductive track of these forty-five minutes (alongside sourdine…), immerses us in an ideal vision of a music which mixes acoustics and machines into a soothing and velvety whole. god(s) takes us somewhere else, to church perhaps: but the return of synths shows that Jean-Michel Blais might perhaps have different gods in mind. igloo could have been a spiritual, even pantheist, track, but Blais, who isn't above a little caustic wit, is quite urban about it: the "igloo" in question is a reference to contemporary cities, full of "caverns", where everything is stacked over everything else. Henceforth, Blais's name will be synonymous with unique sonic flavours. But there is something here of that bitter, fraternal, soft and sensual melancholy that runs through much of North American music, and which permeates the sonic spaces of a Copland (Quiet City) or a Bernard Herrmann (Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro) and the obstinate figures of a Steve Reich (The Four Sections) or the curling wisps of one of the most imaginative representatives of Canadian pop, like Patrick Watson ― think of the latter's Lighthouse where we find that same vision of the instrument, as if stripped of its hammers. Jean-Michel Blais takes his time, discreetly. Under his elegant veneer, he knows how to be tenacious: his quotations (from the entrancingly slow movement of Rachmaninov's Second Concerto, for example, on roses) make for salutary and soothing escapes. Blais is holding out his hand to you. It would be rude to turn him down. © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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