Lisbonne Télégramme

Lisbonne Télégramme came about as the result of long distance emailing between Maritza Bossé-Pelchat and François Dufault of Montréal's The Blue Seeds. Maritza (originally a contestant on the inaugural season of the French-Canadian TV show Star Académie), took a sabbatical from Québec in 2012 and holed-up in the beautiful port city of Lisbon, Portugal. The correspondence between the pair cemented their collaboration and upon her return to Canada, Maritza and François enlisted fellow The Blue Seeds members Martin Farmer and Eric Rathé, and Lisbonne Télégramme was born.

Locked in the studio, and with the addition of violinist Sophie Trudeau of Montréal's avant-garde post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the band's debut album "Miroir d'Automne" was recorded and released at the end of last month (yes March was a bumper month for album releases...)

The album opens with the melancholy "Au loin" and a weeping slide guitar, a song that has all the hallmarks of a country-folk number (it's a genre I've become somewhat familiar with over the past couple of years) - Maritza's voice - mournful, seductive, hypnotic - clinging to hope, is absolutely spellbinding. The lyrics perfectly capture the song's mood, "...Do not you see, in the distance my love?  The weight of the dark years have damaged forever..." yet which offer a glimmer of optimism, "...There, where already the drums beat, Do not you hear my love? (they sound better in French, naturalment...) 

This theme of love - or more often and accurately, aching hurt - is one that recurs over and over again. There is the most overwhelming mood of melancholy offered by "Je n'ose plus" and which features a middle eight of  sombre piano that perfectly captures the mood of the song. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned how much Maritza sounds like one of my favourite Québecoise Salomé Leclerc or how much this song could quite easily have been an out-take from the sublime "27 fois l'aurore". There's the atmospheric "Avant que l'on se noie" while "Miroir d'Automne" features another haunting piano melody which focus attention on the beguiling vocals. The song features deft touches of violin and harmonious choruses, especially on the angelic coda. 

And then there are the songs that highlight the pain of separation;  the gorgeous return of the slide guitar on "Lisbonne sans toi" and "Où es-tu?", a song framed by Sophie Trudeau's sympathetic violin, its omnipresence during the song's chorus amplifies the hurt that distance brings, while along similar lines "Tant de souvenirs" is a song that hints at loss and of mourning.

"Fugitive" with its analogue synths (the majestic Mellotron) and heavily reverbed guitar create a soundtrack that wouldn't feel out of place in a Sergio Leone western (especially the musical pocket watch theme from "For a Few Dollars More"). But from here the song takes on an orchestral quality that is perfectly married to Maritza's deeply soulful voice, before the Mellotron fades to close, the protagonists stand ready to draw as soon as the music stops.

Finally,"Bientôt" and a song which features heavily in reviews amongst the Francophone-Québec press, drawing comparisons with and influences with Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." To these ears the song - a powerful tale of a fiery maelstrom engulfing the city and it's inhabitants - provides hints of both Forêt and the much missed Hôtel Morphée. It's a really atmospheric track that bristles with an undercurrent of menace and offer a noticeable change of pace and depth, suggesting that  Lisbonne Télégramme have much more to offer.

"Miroir d'Automne" is an incredibly textural album. Each of the nine tracks offers a tale of love, hurt, fear and hope. Incredibly melancholy, deeply atmospheric and hypnotically spellbinding, the songs leave an overwhelming desire to hear more...

I hesitate to suggest "Yearlist", give that in March alone there have been enough outstanding albums released to fill any discerning 'best of' list, but yes, I suspect I'll be featuring this album again...

Lisbonne Télégramme Website
"Miroir d'Automne" (Bandcamp)