Le Vent du Nord: Territoires

April 23, 2019

Borealis in Wonderland

Listening Post 198. Oz, Neverwhere, Asteroid B-612—great artists create worlds or pair real domains with fantasylands to explore larger questions. Count in this company Le Vent du Nord, vanguard of Quebec’s progressive folk movement. On Territoires, they tread overlapping realms—the Quebec and New France of today and of history, of the heart, imagination and aspiration. No surrealism in these territories but the ensemble more than compensates with soundscapes as wondrous as on any of their previous nine albums, with lush harmonies accompanied by hurdy-gurdy, melodeon, bouzouki, fiddles, guitars and foot stomping. Across 13 tracks they shine light on moments of joy and into corners of darkness, plumbing old stories not only out of nostalgia but in search of new wisdom. Le Pays de Samuel (Samuel’s Country) is a land of dreams, paying tribute to Samuel de Champlain’s seventeenth-century vision of co-existence between European and Indigenous peoples (video 1). The dream faded with the fall of the French town of Louisbourg to a British assault, the siege now recounted a cappella (video 2). Love’s landscape appears in the jaunty call and response of Le jardinier (The Gardener, video 3). Adieu du village (Farewell to the Village, video 4), ostensibly about a killer reprieved when a hangman’s rope breaks, bridges the centuries as a metaphor for humanity getting an undeserved second chance to avert environmental catastrophe. Apropos, with the release Territoires, the band sponsored two reforestation projects aimed at offsetting their carbon footprint. One of the album’s rousing instrumentals, Le step à Alexis (The Alexis Reel, video 5) is based on fiddler André Brunet’s toddler son, a budding Champlain exploring his terrain. Other chapters evoke Chaousaro, a mythical dragon that saved the Richelieu Valley from fire, and Évolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution), describing Quebec’s march from feudalism to modernity—and to the cultural wonderland that inspires Le Vent du Nord. (Borealis Records)

Related post. Le Vent du Nord: Têtu, Listening Post 16, October 11, 2015

Le Vent du Nord
Simon Beaudry: bouzouki, guitar, voice

Nicolas Boulerice: hurdy-gurdy, piano, voice
André Brunet: guitar, feet, voice
Réjean Brunet: bass, melodeon, bombard, voice
Olivier Demers: guitar, feet, bombard, voice


Le Pays de Samuel/Samuel’s Country
Lyrics & music: Nicolas Boulerice

(from the French lyrics)
Adding dotted lines to a map/Following an arrow and going back to your bow
Trading your buildings for a rowboat/And pelts, a few acres, for your king

Dreaming better than the Spanish soldiers/Inventing a New World of Creole people
Where everyone can speak freely/Where the whole would be greater, and stand as a symbol

He fled religions and folly/Helped by an oddly friendly King
He went on the conquest of his life/Injecting his spirit into America

At the end of his journey, New France/Welcomed settlers in a land of plenty
He died on Christmas Day, feeling confident/Leaving us with his only child, hope

Champlain led a complex life/Champlain dreamed our country
From coastline to hinterland, along the rivers/We still have this country to build


Lyrics & music: Traditional

It was you, noble emperor, who appointed me governor
Of Louisbourg, that remarkable city we thought so secure
We thought it was impregnable, but it couldn’t resist

Was it a lack of canon, of gunpowder, of ammunition?
A garrison of two thousand men, such strong defenses
I’d like to know what Louisbourg was lacking

Day and night, the French tried to ease their hunger
Day and night, in the trenches, with water up to their knees
Twenty thousand men assaulting them

The city was in dire straits, fire raged in several places
The wall couldn’t resist attackers climbing over it

We beat the drum of surrender

I made one condition for me and my garrison
To come out of our homes, armed and with a drum beating
Flying our banners, leaving behind luggage and money

I left five hundred cannon, a thousand barrels of gunpowder and lead
Ten thousand quarts of flour and thirty thousand cannonballs

The English looked fine, after their war against the French

Farewell, lovely Louisbourg, this is adieu forever
In this moment of distress, of so much unhappiness
I regretfully leave you, you and all your directors


Le Jardinier/The Gardener
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Olivier Demers

The other day as I was walking, I heard the complaint of a maiden
Who sang softly: “I see my lawn withering
My beautiful rose bush is in despair, will it die from lack of water?”

Quietly, I come closer and tell her softly
“Miss, I will help with your gardening
Taking care of your rose bush, your flowers will not die from lack of water”

“Sir, are you a gardener? Do you know agriculture?
Oh! Can you grow things, in the heat, in the cold?
Knowing the ground well, the flowers in every season?” 

“Yes, I’m a good gardener and I know plants very well
As soon as I plant, fruit grows instantly
I’ll show you the power of my pretty little watering can”

“Sir, come into my garden to water my little vines
All my flowers and my plants, all my pretty flowers
Since you’re such a great gardener, I hope you’ll water my rose bush with love”


Adieu du Village/Farewell to the Village
Lyrics: Traditional/Music: Nicolas Boulerice

From where have you come, Pierrick, from where have you come, Pierrot?
I’ve come from school, from the school in the country

You lie through your teeth, you come from seeing that girl
I’d like to see her dead, her heart lying here

What would you give me, Mother, if I went to get it?
I would give you a white shirt, and as much money as you need

Gallant, he took his sword, went on his way
Arrived at the door, knocked three times

Farewell from the village, my dear, farewell, my friend, I’m leaving

He woke the pretty one and the door opened
Took her by the hand, led her to the garden

Took his sword, stabbed her right in the heart
Took her heart and her tongue, brought them back to his mother

A knock on the door, justice came in
They took Pierrick, led him to the gallows

Put a rope around his neck, but the rope broke
His life was saved, he was pardoned, no one touched him


Le step à Alexis/The Alexis Reel
Music: André Brunet


1 Comment

  1. Jeff Meshel

    Very nice, thanks, even if they are singing in French. Most of the clips are “unavailable in your country”. On my regular torrent site I found 1 link, on my super-secret Russian site another 4, only 3 of which seem to be working. My good friend Emma Bjorling sings in both Kongero (Swedish folk’apella) and Skye Consort (Quebec/Swedish progressive roots). See also https://www.jmeshel.com/264-folkavant-9th-of-august/ Shall listen futher! Godspeed. Jeff

    On Wed, Apr 24, 2019 at 1:24 AM World Listening Post wrote:

    > atigay posted: “Borealis in Wonderland Listening Post 198. Oz, Neverwhere, > Asteroid B-612—great artists create worlds or mix real domains with > fantasylands to explore larger questions. Count in this company Le Vent du > Nord, vanguard of Quebec’s progressive folk moveme” >


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