Available languages: EnglishJean-Michel Blais is a Canadian pianist. His work, while primarily improvised, recalls the influence of composers such as Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel, as well as minimalists such as the young Philip Glass. Blais' works sound spontaneous and emotional as evidenced by "Dada" from his 2016 debut offering Il, 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 Il in 2016. This was followed by Cascades, a collaboration with CFCF, in 2017. Blais' third project, Eviction Sessions released through Arts & Crafts in November of 2018. Blais got inspired to record it after being informed he would be evicted from his apartment (after living there seven years) due to neighborhood gentrification. This was the same apartment in which he recorded his debut album and his response was deeply emotional. In October 2019, Blais released the soundtrack to the Canadian film Matthias & Maxime. He received a special mention for the work at the Cannes Soundtrack Awards.
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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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