Thursday, October 12, 2006:

The Roots Canal: Fanfare Pourpour

Fanfare Pourpour -- Le Temps du Bonheur
Fanfare Pourpour -- La Vieille Valse du Dimanche Après-Midi
For some reason, listening to MTO reminded me of a strange band I heard a couple of years ago when I took my daughter bike-riding in Montreal. We went up to ride the Tour de l'Île de Montréal, a 48-km joyride taken by 30,000 bicyclists around the island city each June. She valiantly toughed out the long ride in the summer sun, finishing at a small park where there was a festival for the tired riders. We collapsed on the grass, popped open some water bottles, and started listening to an odd band playing on a nearby stage.

A stranger agglomeration of instruments I could scarcely imagine. Fifteen or so musicians with a couple of accordions, guitars, clarinets, trumpets, flutes, saxophones of various sizes, snaredrum, keyboard, stand-up bass, violins and the occasional banjo -- playing a chaotic, spirited, gypsy-like music that inspired children and adults to dance free-form before the stage.

"What do you call this," I asked one of the musicians during a break. "Fanfare" came the reply. That didn't help much. My own best effort to describe their music would be as a cross between circus and movie music, running largely to waltzes.

The band was announced as Fanfare Pourpour (pronounced "poo-poo"). I bought one of their CDs and brought it home. Nobody in my house understands why I like it so much. In fact, they don't even let me play it when they're around. I don't care. Whether it's the memory of my original enjoyment, its overall oddness, or even that it's actually pretty good, I'm not sure. Judge for yourself.

I'd like to know more about this unusual group. As best I can tell, it seems to be some kind of street music collective that's been playing together in one form or another for 30 years or so.

These are my two favorite songs on the album, Le Bal. The first is a haunting melody that sounds to my ears like a World War I-vintage antiwar song (although with my high school French, it could be something altogether different). I think the title translates as "Where has the happiness gone?" The second is described as "traditional Cajun"; the tune sounds vaguely familiar but transformed in their imagination into something unique and spontaneous.

[Le Bal]
No, this is wonderful. The first one is the lost soundtrack to City of Lost Children, except where it's the secret soul of Triplets of Belleville; the second one is the world's slowest jig turned into a stein-banging singalong about making a respectable showing despite overwhelming odds.

I'm glad you like it. I've always thought of them as one of my secret pleasures.

i think this is absolutley amazing, great choice!

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