Et Cetera - Et Cetera

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Unidisc Records
Catalog Number: AGEK 2092
Format: CD
Total Time: 36:02:00

This is an occasion to start at the end, and then continue from the beginning. Buy this CD. Plan to set aside the tiny sum that is needed to add this absolutely stunning work to your collection. It is available through Syn-Phonic for a few measly dollars, and this is a must have. Am I making myself clear? This is one of the greatest unknown works in progressive rock's history.

Et Cetera was a French-Canadian band from Quebec. This album was recorded and released on LP [by Apostrophe (AP 800)] in 1976. The 1997 re-issue is a marvel of quality sound. I cannot imagine how this release ended up sounding so good on CD, but the separation and distinct voice and character of each instrument, and the vocals in particular, is nothing short of astounding. One would think that this was a modern digital recording.

If you are a fan of Gentle Giant, then I can easily describe the sound of Et Cetera to you, and if you are not a fan of Gentle Giant, then please consider listening to a few of their mid 70s releases. You're really missing out!

Et Cetera was a five piece with two keyboardists drums, bass and guitar. One keyboardist played flute, sax, and vibes as well, while the bassist also played cello. Their second keyboardist, a woman named Marie Bernard Page, also played an instrument similar to the Theremin, called the Ondes Martinot, which supplied, a surprise to me anyway, a much more pleasant tone and more musical functionality than the Theremin. Three members, including Page, provided vocals. They were able to compose and record this brilliant work, made up of fairly short songs, by progressive standards, and capture all that was best of the style of Gentle Giant without ever straying too close to direct quotation of the Giant. They had little of the melancholy nature of the Giant, replacing it with a jazz/fusion element that worked out exceedingly well. There is not a dull moment on this set of seven songs.

To continue with the comparison, Et Cetera had none of the harshness or aggression of Gentle Giant, but they did have all of the intricate, contrapuntal construction, and some of the same complex acappella vocal gymnastics of the Giant. Most, nearly all, of the lead vocals were handled by Marie Bernard Page, who has one of the most lovely, soothing voices I have ever heard. All the vocals were extraordinarily well done, and will leave the listener in awe.

The keyboards and guitar work, heck, every note played on every instrument, was flawless in conception and execution.

The first track, "Et La Musique Tourne" is a knockout. It begins with a melody, if you can call it that, that dances to and fro, and within one minute another more lyrical theme with gorgeous harmony vocals takes you on a musical u-turn, and within two minutes, we have dueling guitar and synthesizer lines, and more drop dead, beautiful vocals. This CD just goes on and on like this. Every song is an absolute wonder to behold. There is unbelievably complex, yet instantly likable music in every song. This will take many listens before you can really tell one song from another, but who cares! You'd have to be a musical genius to even attempt to hum something like this, but again, that's not an issue. It is all astounding!

The second track, "Eclaircie," is similarly mind altering. The instruments dance in wide circles around each other, joining at intervals that keep you guessing, and of course, this features more splendid vocal work.

The third cut, "Entre Chien Et Loup," begins in a medieval fashion, with a classical acoustic guitar and excellent flute work, smooth, romantic sounding vocals, and becomes a very jazzy sounding number with loads of sharp guitar playing and stop and start sections, accented with synths and vibes. Another knockout punch.

The next song is an instrumental, "Apostrophes." There is an acoustic/electric guitar opening theme, and solos from all the lead instruments, nice sax work, exciting gritty guitar playing, very expressive synthesizer and piano solos, and a good time was clearly had by all.

The fifth track is "Newton Avait Raison." This REALLY sounds like Gentle Giant, with Minnear-like clavinet carrying the main brunt of the keyboard work. Hot synthesizer playing in the middle stands out, and must I say again, great vocals from the ensemble of vocalists, with Marie on top, as always.

Next is "L'Age Dort," with a somewhat menacing, shark about to surface, beginning figure, but immediately, the mood changes as male vocals set upon a major change in course, but Marie chimes in quickly, with more of her striking vocals. There are no drums on this cut, leaving an atmospheric, simmering sound with many changes in mood and texture.

The final track, "Tandem" has a very light and airy feel, with fine harmony vocals again, and some de-constructed, very avant-garde work from the piano, and, hurrah!, the first and only, organ solo, so brief I missed it the first time I listened. This track moves in a number of directions, but always stays focused, and it comes off quite well. One note on this. The track comes to an abrupt end, and the music ends as if the plug was being pulled.

Well, sometime after this great release was recorded, the plug was pulled. This group seems to have come and gone with no one ever noticing them.

Let me end as I began. Buy this CD. It will be one of the choicest works on your shelf. That is, if it's not always in your CD changer.

Et La Musique Tourne (4:04) / Eclaircie (5:14) / Entre Chien Et Loup (7:02) / Apostrophes (4:49) / Newton Avait Raison (4:11) / L'Age Dort (4:34) / Tandem (6:08)

Marie Bernard Page - keyboards, ondes martenot - vocals
Denis Chartrand - keyboards, flute, saxophone, vibraphone, vocals
Pierre Dragon - drums, percussion
Robert Marchand - guitars, vocals
Alain Yves Pigeon - bass, cello, vocals

Et Cetera (1976/1997)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: April 4th 2004
Reviewer: Tom Karr
Artist website:
Hits: 1046
Language: english


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