Montreal music scene legend Roger Tellier-Craig scores new Quebec film La Contemplation du mystère PLUS tracks by Echo Collective, Ane Brun and more!
Echo Collective, “Inflection Point,” The See Within (!K7 Music/Mutesong)
Looking back at the 2020 iCal, I notice that I have not had a haircut since March 10. It’s gone through several phases, my unruly hair. First was the Alan Alda in M*A*S*H, also known as the Korean wartime cut. Then came the Chevy-Chase-on-coke do. After that it looked like I was auditioning to be a droog in A Clockwork Orange. Next it slid into Tom Snyder (no, it didn’t go grey, not entirely, but it might as well have, like Leland Palmer’s overnight whiteout). Then came the Nobody Home Obligatory Hendrix Perm. Finally, the Neil Diamond circa 1972 — staring at the cover of Hot August Night is like gazing into a mirror, minus the masturbatory ecstatic stance. By Christmas, it will either be Relic from The Beachcombers or the full-on Johann Johannsson dome: shave it off and start all over again.
Elif Yalvaç, “Brocken Spectre,” Mountains Become Stepping Stones (NNA Tapes)
The Federal government announced in October an ambitious plan to bring nearly 1.3 million newcomers to Canada over the next three years. That’s a city the size of Calgary. In 2015, when newly elected golden boy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proclaimed “refugees welcome” and opened the national doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees, I applauded the resolution. These were vulnerable people who had experienced immense hardship and violence — survived a war. But this year has been like a war for every nation under God. Thus, now I’m not so sure.
According to Statistics Canada, 12.1 per cent of the education and a whopping 19 per cent of health care and social assistance sectors in Canada laid off 100 per cent of their staff in 2020 due to the Coronavirus crisis. 11.2 per cent of immigrant-owned businesses also went bust. So, pray tell, where are all these proud new Canadians going to go to school? How are they going to get access to the much-needed but COVID-battered health care system they will doubtless require immediately upon arrival? And what sort of economy are they going to inherit?
1.8 million Canadians filed for unemployment in this country in September. The Neskantaga First Nation in northern Ontario and a dozen others don’t have a reliable source for potable water. Dear Justin Trudeau, it’s 2020. As the old common-sense airplane adage goes: “In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, put your own mask on first, then assist others.”
Ane Brun, “After the Great Storm,” After the Great Storm (Balloon Ranger Recordings/UMG)
I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just give me some truth
Jesu, “Alone,” Terminus (Avalanche Recordings)
Health Canada at the beginning of October approved a rapid COVID-19 test produced by Abbott Laboratories, the very same test that The U.S. White House relied upon — unsuccessfully — to determine whether or not staff in close contact with Donald Trump were infected with the virus. The New York Times on the very same day published an article lambasting the Abbott Laboratories test: “The products are less accurate than laboratory tests that use a technique called polymerase chain reaction, or P.C.R.,” said The Times, “and they more frequently miss infections or mistakenly designate healthy people as infected.” Which is why asymptomatic testing is more frequently being discouraged: the Alberta Health authority, for instance, announced plans to stop testing asymptomatic individuals as of Nov. 4, citing the statistic that fewer than one per cent of those without a variety of symptoms or known close contact with a COVID-positive person also tested positive.
So, which is it? Do asymptomatic people actually pose a “super-spreader” threat or not? And do the rapid tests that we just purchased work with asymptomatic people or not? While we’re trying to decipher these obviously mixed messages, your Canadian government has bequeathed untold millions of fruitless dollars upon a U.S. pharmaceutical giant with an annual operating income of $4.532-billion.
La Contemplation du mystère, Dir. Albéric Aurtenèche, score by Roger Tellier-Craig, (Les Cinémas Ciné Entreprise)
Regular readers of this column will know that I usually do my utmost to not talk about the thing I’m supposed to be talking about, or to talk about it in the most roundabout of ways — all symbolically, like. This, though, deserves proper attention: a new motion picture from director Albéric Aurtenèche, with a twisted-sounding score by Montreal music scene legend Roger Tellier-Craig of Fly Pan Am fame, as well as fame derived from le Révélateur and his own bad self. This looks creepy.
Unfortunately, La Contemplation du mystère’s premiere was waylaid by a fresh round of lockdowns courtesy of the Legault government and rising coronavirus case numbers. Nonetheless, I want to see — and hear — this film, and so should you. Aurtenèche won a Jutra award for M’ouvrir, the gut-wrenching 2010 short film on the delicate subject of self-harm starring Ariane Trépanier, Pierre-Luc Lafontaine, and Denis Bernard. Not to mention, Tellier-Craig seems to have leaned into the lonely pandemic regulations. He and the band are currently putting the finishing touches upon the forthcoming Fly Pan Am-scored Frontera dance piece produced last year, out on Constellation Records in 2021. And he’s got a brand-new album in the works: “It’s kind of a mix between ‘Études’ and ‘C’est ça’,” Tellier-Craig tells me, via email. I cannot wait for that mix. ■
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