Ouuuuuuhhhhh that’s good. I won’t waste time : this album of the Crossroad Copeland collective is already on my list of albums of the year 2023. That’s it. Now, of course, why? Because I found in this octet led by Montreal guitarist and composer Ben Copland Gilbert similar to a big part of the ecstatic pleasure I had more than 20 years ago filling my ears with Mike Patton’s exploding adventures with Mr Bungle. Yes, this is the kind of heady ride that crosses and fuses jazz, metal, rap and lyricism like a gifted child would build a castle out of diverse Lego blocks. Musical nuclear fusion at its best (take note physicists : the musical world has done it way before you).
In the majority of the pieces of the album, the gleaming horns, the insistent guitars, the muscular bass and the unleashed drums are the deafening testimonies (yes!!!) of a fruitful dialogue between various stylistic inspirations very well stirred in a broth of burst culture.
This is especially true of the first ¾ (or so) of the album in which one savors the perfect mixing of textures as opposite as those of a saturated and grating guitar, vibrating brass choruses, sometimes rap and elsewhere the beautiful angelic voice, very French sixties (like a Michel Legrand musical) of Jeanne Laforest. I’m thinking here of the first two tracks on the record, Lift Off and High, which propel us into the stratosphere of jubilant eclecticism.
Elsewhere, it’s heavy and rather acidic blues, and then, a few health breaks allow us to catch our breath and realign our panting Zenitude.
The conclusion of this exciting opus is surprisingly gentle, as if there was no need double dip in that kind of energy. A bit like the finale of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a long coda that let the emotions settle. Some had criticized it. In the end, I say that’s exactly what had to be done. Same thing here. We are given time to breathe and assimilate gradually every bit of intense emotion we’ve been thrown at.Bonus : this lets us appreciate even more accurately the musicality of the whole band, capable of as beautiful things in delicate mode as in “all out” mode. Last track, “Playground,” a Zeppelin-esque hymn could be, willing or not, a wink to Stairway. Nice.
It seems to me that if it doesn’t make you want to let Cope Land rattle your cage right away, it never will. And, if you like it, don’t just listen to it. Buy it! They deserve it.
Ben Copland Gilbert, guitar, rap, compositions, lead
Carl Mayotte, bass
Alex Desjardins, trombone
Violet Hébert et Antoine Tardif, trumpets
Gregory Kustka-Tsimbidis, drums
Jeanne Laforest, voice
Hugo Leclerc, saxophone