A Brief History
Once again Forgotten Sons is dealing with a band that only managed to conjure up one release in its brief history. For a starter this band have absolutely noting to do with the recent Danish band that goes by the same name. This Et Cetera band is a Canadian group, a group that could be considered as the French speaking clone of British legends Gentle Giant. Throughout prog-history there have been a variety of clones of Gentle Giant, such as Yezda Urfa and Echolyn, but few if any have managed to capture the fusion of medieval hooks with modern rock as well as the distinctive syncopation in their music as did Et Cetera.
No matter how much I searched I have been unable to come up with any goods related to this band except for a few snippets of information. The band hail from Quebec, hence the use of the French language in their music, forming around the mid-seventies and managed to release one album to their name simply titled Et Cetera (Apostrophe, AP-800, insert with lyrics included) in 1976.
One of the more interesting points on this album is the use of the instrument called Ondes Martenot. This is a relatively obscure electronic instrument that is very similar to the Theremin (the instrument immortalised in Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys and numerous horror films). The Ondes Martenot has been utilised quite often by twentieth century composers such as Honegger, Milhaud and Varese, though I must admit that it is the first time that I have come across the use of this instrument in a rock context. The sound it creates is relatively similar to the Theremin and can be played over a keyboard or an adjustable metal wire with an independent dynamic check for the left hand.
No singles seem to have been released and there is no further news regarding the band following the release of their album. In all probability the band disbanded soon after the release of the album as there is neither any sign of the group touring to promote the album nor of them entering a studio to record a new album.
It seems that only Marie Bernard Pagé continued to pursue a musical career with a degree of success. She is
relatively well known in Canada for her interpretation of "Un trou dans les nuages" by Michel Rivard,
"Détournement majeur" by Diane Dufresne as well as for her version of the song "Café Rimbaud" of
Radio-Canada. In the eighties she was also a member of the band Soupir together with Paul Pagé and Normand
Brathwaite (Pied de poule).
Denis Chartrand continued as a session musician, playing also with Celine Dion, as has Robert Marchand while Pierre Dragon was a member of Trick Of The Tail, the Genesis tribute band between until the mid-eighties.
Et Cetera - Et Cetera
Side 2: Apostrophes (4:49), Newton Avait Raison (4:11), L'Age Dort (4:34), Tandem (6:08)
Line-up: Marie Bernard Pagé (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)
Recorded At Studio Tempo, Montréal in Autumn 1976
Producer and Chief Engineer: Paul Pagé
Artistic Direction: Marc Durand
Album Design: Marc Durand and Pierre Drouin
All tracks were composed by Et Cetera.
From the opening track on the album, Et La Musique Tourne the groundwork for the rest of the album is laid down. The opening chords immediately demonstrate that the album is not going to be an easy ride in terms of commerciality. In fact there is little or nothing that one can faithfully reproduce after hearing the album which is one of those albums that requires a number of repeated listens to finally make an impact on the listener. Contrasting vocals with guitars and keyboards playing simultaneously in different keys make this track, as well as the album, one of the more challenging albums I have in my collection. At the same time this is also one of the albums that stands best the test of time with its totally uncharacteristic nature aging extremely well, possibly because it is not simply a piece of music that simply reflects the time in which it was recorded but instead is a conglomeration of musical ideas from various periods in the history of music.
Eclaircie maintains the continuous offbeats with contrasting instruments. At times the music comes to a complete halt with just a drumbeat left to act as conductor to introduce each individual instrument, though they eventually rejoin. When comparing the band to their obvious mentors, Gentle Giant, one must note that Et Cetera are much less harsh in their presentation and the music does not possess that heavy contrast and rock s sound, a fact aided in no small way by the smooth vocals of Marie Bernard Pagé.
Side 1 comes to a conclusion with Entre Chien Et Loup, which starts off sounding as if it is a piece of Baroque music that was originally written for clavichord and transposed into a piece for flute, acoustic guitar and keyboards. This track though possessing the various chord progressions and key shifts is probably one of the most easy-listening tracks on the album with a large part of the instrumental section very much in the jazz-fusion musical vein.
The second side opens with Apostrophes that starts off with the sound of the ondes Martenot that helps create that airy feel to the music which immediately strikes the listener as being far from commercial. The gradual ascent and descent of minor scales creates a sound that though not very ear friendly still strikes the listener who manages to pick out a tune here and there that keeps one gripped to the recording. The track is totally instrumental allowing each individual instrument space to solo.
Newton Avait Raison, starts with an almost space-rock feel to it, but this does not last long as the contrasting off-beats and quirky chords lead the track into the familiar Gentle Giant territory. Of interest on this track is the duetting between female and male vocals, something which is picked up again in L'Age Dort which however consist of a completely different musical texture. Drums are practically absent from this track that has an almost ballet-like feel to it. The track opens with a crescendo that one finds in thrillers with the rhythm kept by the vibraphone. This suspense is maintained until the keyboards and violin cello serenade in the vocals. Even the vocals maintain that mellow touch that give the track an almost fairytale feeling as the transition from female to male vocals occurs with minimal accentuation. The musical backdrop has a fairytale feel with an almost complete lack of bass notes with instead a use of tinkles and pizzicato-like playing.
The album comes to a conclusion with Tandem, which is a sharp contrast to the happy feeling that L'Age Dort conveyed. The opening piano section is slightly misleading as it continues within the same framework with duetting vocals and delicate instrumentation, but this fades out to the style that characterised the majority of the album. The instruments seem to be moving off in different musical directions yet somehow always manage to aggregate together at various sections, bringing sense to what essentially sounds to be nonsensal! The final section of the track features an acapella section that is simple marvellous and which brings the curtain down on the quirky Gentle Giant fell and heralds in a dreamscape that seems to herald in a new style but which is abruptly terminated by the music suddenly shut off.
As I have chance to mention already, the album consist of a style not too dissimilar to that which British band Gentle Giant used to present. Syncopated music that manages to fuse various musical elements from Baroque to jazz, this is one album that manages to condense an immense amount of classical infusion into a short span of time (the longest track runs at seven minutes) and at the same time infuse the right amount of pop hooks to make the album an incredibly pleasurable listen. This album is a must for all those Gentle Giant fans who are hungry for more music that the Portsmouth band so greatly produced in the seventies.
The net does not seem to provide any information on Et Ceterea. However, should you have any further information regarding Et Cetera that could be added to the site, do not hesitate to contact me.