Music Downloads: Jean-Michel Blais – Eviction Sessions

If you follow any of my musical musings on this site you’ll know I have what some would refer to as mildly eclectic taste.

Think of it more as stream-as-of-consciousness when I’m writing about artists or albums I enjoy because there’s never the same reason I’ll like something or want to press digits to keyboard about them (other than perhaps the quality of the recording).

So it was the other day that I was in a Wet Coast sort of mood (I live in Vancouver, British Columbia). I looked out the windows taking in the torrential rainfall that demarcates the season Fall here and wondered aloud if I should build an ark because our yard was showing signs of committing itself to being fully submerged. I felt a tinge of seasonal darkness set in: I decided I needed some music to compliment the mood.

After several minutes of Googling and noodling through Tidal and Qobuz I came across a little gem of a 2018 neo-classical live solo piano EP by fellow Canadian and rural Quebecois son Jean-Michel Blais titled eviction sessions.

The 21 minutes and 29 seconds of playing spread over five tracks that make up the exquisitely close-mic’d recording was done entirely in his Montreal apartment with about 30 people present in the waning days before Blais was forced out due to gentrification of the area known as Mile End.

As one listens, taken in completely by the intimacy of the mini-concerto, it’s difficult to not feel the resignation of Blais’ heartfelt expression, but there in the mix, alongside those bare piano notes there’s coughs, whispering, creaking floorboards, chairs scuffing and smatterings of French between songs as the audience comes out of their polyphonic-induced reverie. You can almost picture them turning to one another to share a connection following the moment.

It’s a melancholy, yet sublime sonic trip heavy with tone, timbre and weight to every struck key that seems resonant with echoes of times gone past and I’m sure it must have been an emotional experience for him as it was in this same apartment that he recorded his 2016 debut that ended up getting a nod from Time magazine as one of the best albums for that year.

A hell of an immersion for a rainy day or just to sit and listen and let the notes wash over you.

volvic's picture

Quite nice, might have to put in a purchase. Thanks for sharing.