Quick Before it Melts

Polaris ‘10 Shortlist: Karkwa Les Chemins De Verre

by  |  August 2, 2010  |  7 Comments

There’s much being made about two of the 2010 Polaris shortlisted albums being in a language other than English, and whether that will hurt the chances of either LP winning.  Truthfully, language has little to do whether Karkwa or Radio Radio win it;  it’s what they and the other 8 artists do with language and music that matters.  And what Karkwa do with language and music is pure magic.  I’ve come to realize that knowing what the lyrics mean has very little impact on whether you like the music or not.   Even a meticulously executed translation wouldn’t be able to convey the subtleties and details inherent in the song’s native language, so why bother?  Musical alchemy needs no translation.

If you had to do a “recommended-if-you-like” comparison for Karkwa, the obvious choices might be Radiohead and Sigur Rós.  They all share a cinematic style of song arrangement and composition that’s orchestral, intricate and layered.  “Dors dans mon sang” (loose translation: “sleep in my blood”) is a perfect examples of the Sigur Rós similarities, while “La piqûre” (“The puncture”) bends and plays with sounds in much the same way The Bends did.  They also share a strong similarity with fellow Montrealers Patrick Watson (Patrick Watson the man actually made a guest appearance on Karkwa’s last record).  Don’t shortchange Karkwa by labeling them the francophone version of any band–Canadian, Icelandic, or English.  It will only take one listen to Les Chemins De Verre to realize that these guys are distinct musicians, developing a class and categorization all their own.

There’s a dreamlike quality to the songs on Les Chemins De Verre, a delicateness that can be shattered as easily as its titular glass paths.  As songs like “28 jours” build to their crescendo, you can feel the tension swell almost to the point of breaking, but Karkwa have an incredible knack for preciseness of playing on this record; they have complete control.  It is a very deliberate record, one imagine that started out as improvisations in the studio, evolving over time and practice.  Les Chemins De Verre has a uniformity of sound, but there is enough variation to make each track distinguishable from the next.  The folky opening vibe of “Marie tu pleures”, for example,  bursts into the same deep booming melodrama found on opening track “Le pyromane”, but you’d never confuse the two for each other.  The finished product is a set of 12 fully-realized and complete songs.  Nothing is left unreconciled or incomplete.

Les Chemins De Verre‘s last song is titled “Le vrai bonheur”, “true happiness” according to my trusted translator, and I couldn’t think of a better title or way to describe the pleasure of listening to this record.  Maybe I’m a snob for not paying closer attention to the francophone records released this year; maybe Les Chemins De Verre was a casualty of having too many albums to listen to and not enough time to do it.  All I know now is, things would have been a lot different on my first and second Polaris ballots if I had heard this record before having to fill them in.  Of all the records nominated this year, Les Chemins De Verre is the one I was least familiar with on the day the shortlist was announced, and it’s the one that I couldn’t possibly live without today.

Les Chemins De Verre was released March 30, 2010 by Audiogram.

MP3: Karkwa “Dors das mon sang”
Myspace: Karkwa
Facebook: Karkwa

Tags: ,

7 Comments

  1. herohill says:

    You touch on something interesting here, that always bugs me. People are so willing to shower greatness on bands like Sigur Ros (with good reason) and say the songs speak to them, but so many people always dismiss French recordings without giving them the same credit. If Karkwa wins, I’d be happy because the music is beautiful. As for Radio Radio, well, I just think it’s hokey and if it WASN’T in a dialect, people would dismiss it.

  2. Ali Palmer says:

    Would love to dedicate this to a special guy if I have one. This song was the trigger point in my latest piece. Thank You;).

  3. J. Di Gioia says:

    “…people always dismiss French recordings without giving them the same credit.”

    Is this just a Canadian state of mind? I wonder if it’s because Quebec is such a niche market, and isolated geographically? In the U.S. there is a huge Latino music community, but because the target market isn’t isolated to any one particular geographic area, it seems to have seeped into market more widely than francophone music has in Canada. I’m not saying there aren’t any audiences for francophone music in Canada outside of Quebec, but I don’t think they’d be big enough to draw the attention of non-French speaking Canadians. Shame, because albums like this one, and from last year’s longlister Coeur de Pirate deserve to be heard. Another favourite of mine from QC is Marie Pierre Arthur (see here for more on her).

  4. herohill says:

    I think geography is one reason, but there are strong French speaking populations in NB and NS too… I think really it’s that people seem to get their knickers in a knot if the music is in French, but Latin/Icelandic/Ethiopian etc… then it’s instantly ok. Very weird and sad.

    As for MPA – I watched her play at M for Montreal, and was blown away.

  5. cha 33 mag says:

    Video of karkwa during the south by southwest festival. Enjoy!
    http://www.33mag.com/fr/webtv/ton-petit-lait/karkwa-sxsw-shooting-gun

  6. After examine a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I actually like your method of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website listing and will be checking again soon. Pls try my website as properly and let me know what you think.

  7. You made some respectable factors there. I seemed on the internet for the problem and found most individuals will go together with along with your website.

  8. yeezy shoes says:

    I simply needed to thank you so much all over again. I do not know the things I could possibly have made to happen without the actual points revealed by you concerning this subject. It became an absolute frightful situation for me personally, but encountering a new skilled fashion you treated it made me to cry over joy. I’m thankful for your guidance and wish you really know what a powerful job you are accomplishing educating the mediocre ones thru a blog. I am certain you haven’t encountered all of us.

  9. Whats up! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the nice data you will have here on this post. I will be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.

  10. There are certainly a number of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to deliver up. I offer the ideas above as normal inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you convey up the place an important thing can be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round issues like that, however I am certain that your job is clearly recognized as a fair game. Each boys and girls really feel the impression of just a moment抯 pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

  11. An attention-grabbing discussion is price comment. I think that you need to write more on this subject, it won’t be a taboo subject but typically persons are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  12. I must convey my appreciation for your kindness for men who require help with in this content. Your special commitment to passing the message around had been exceedingly interesting and has all the time enabled employees just like me to achieve their objectives. Your new valuable information can mean so much a person like me and further more to my mates. Warm regards; from each one of us.

  13. you have a terrific blog here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my blog?

  14. very good put up, i certainly love this web site, carry on it

  15. yeezy boost says:

    I really wanted to write a word so as to express gratitude to you for all of the amazing secrets you are posting here. My particularly long internet look up has at the end of the day been paid with high-quality insight to go over with my family and friends. I would express that many of us visitors are rather endowed to live in a wonderful website with many marvellous professionals with good advice. I feel rather happy to have seen the website and look forward to tons of more amazing times reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.

  16. There are actually lots of details like that to take into consideration. That could be a great level to carry up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions just like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged round issues like that, however I am certain that your job is clearly recognized as a good game. Both girls and boys really feel the impression of just a second抯 pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.

Your Comments


RECENT REVIEWS >>

  • DOMINIONATED THE THIRD DOMINIONATED THE THIRD
  • KAYTRANADA >> 99.9% KAYTRANADA >> 99.9%
  • TANIKA CHARLES >> Soul Run TANIKA CHARLES >> Soul Run
  • THE BURNING HELL >> Public Library THE BURNING HELL >> Public Library
  • PUP >> The Dream Is Over PUP >> The Dream Is Over
  • BY DIVINE RIGHT >> Speak & Spell U.S. BY DIVINE RIGHT >> Speak & Spell U.S.
  • FREDERICK SQUIRE >> Spooky Action at a Distance FREDERICK SQUIRE >> Spooky Action at a Distance
  • KATE MAKI >> Head In The Sand KATE MAKI >> Head In The Sand
  • DANIEL ROMANO >> Mosey DANIEL ROMANO >> Mosey
  • HOODED FANG >> Venus On Edge HOODED FANG >> Venus On Edge

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT >>

  • NICK FERRIO >> "Palace of Gold" (Video) NICK FERRIO >> "Palace of Gold" (Video)
  • DOMINIONATED THE THIRD DOMINIONATED THE THIRD
  • RENDERS >> "Running Through the Night" RENDERS >> "Running Through the Night"
  • TUNS >> "Mind Over Matter" TUNS >> "Mind Over Matter"
  • TIMOTHY RYAN TIMOTHY RYAN
  • HEATHERS HEATHERS
  • WEST NILE WEST NILE
  • BADBADNOTGOOD >> "Time Moves Slow" (feat. Sam Herring) BADBADNOTGOOD >> "Time Moves Slow" (feat. Sam Herring)
  • CHOBO CHOBO
  • TWIST >> "Soaked" TWIST >> "Soaked"

HEAVY ROTATION >>

  • WHOOP-SZO >> "Bmaadiziwin" WHOOP-SZO >> "Bmaadiziwin"
  • PREOCCUPATIONS >> "Anxiety" PREOCCUPATIONS >> "Anxiety"
  • THE BURNING HELL >> "Pop Goes the World" THE BURNING HELL >> "Pop Goes the World"
  • FEIST >> "Flamenco for Gord" FEIST >> "Flamenco for Gord"
  • PARTNER >> "Personal Weekend" PARTNER >> "Personal Weekend"
  • ISLANDS >> "No Milk, No Sugar" ISLANDS >> "No Milk, No Sugar" "No Milk, No Sugar" is Nick Thorburn's pop nonpareil, heavy with hook and melody, and so effortlessly cool that every other songwriter aspiring to pop music perfection best pack up their gear and take up traffic cone collecting.
  • IVY MAIRI >> "All Around Me" IVY MAIRI >> "All Around Me" "All Around Me" by Toronto based singer/songwriter Ivy Mairi is our #NewFavouriteSong. Click the link to listen to it yourself.
  • LUKA >> "Why Don't You Go To Her" LUKA >> "Why Don't You Go To Her"
  • SHIRLEY & THE PYRAMIDS >> "All The Time" SHIRLEY & THE PYRAMIDS >> "All The Time" Saskatoon's Shirley & The Pyramids wear their musical influences on the arm of their long-sleeved tee-shirts, but before you're quick to group them in with other neo-shoegazers, give a good listen to "All The Time", one of two advance singles from their recently released self-titled record. In it, you'll hear a the broad strokes of someone who's explored a range of sonic influencers--from 13th Floor Elevators to Ride, The Velvet Underground to Atlas Sound--and is now drilling down through the gauzy haze of guitar drone to find their essence, their truth.
  • EXPWY >> "Love in Idelness" EXPWY >> "Love in Idelness"






  • 10/10 >> YOUNG GALAXY 10/10 >> YOUNG GALAXY


  • 10/10 >> EXPWY / MATT LEGROULX 10/10 >> EXPWY / MATT LEGROULX

  • Albums2015QBiM Albums2015QBiM Quick Before It Melts Favourite Albums of 2015
QUICK BEFORE IT MELTS NEWSLETTER
(We don't send out a lot!)
* = required field


  • Songs2015-lowres Songs2015-lowres