Cham-pang, Tant pis 81-82

Best known as an electronic duo, Cham-pang became a fixture of the Montreal new wave scene in 1981 with the release of a two-song EP on YUL Records (“Tantum Ergo” b/w “Ne mourrez pas”). The session featured Men without Hats’ Allan McCarthy on electronics and Yvel Champagne on vocals, although the group also depended on contributions from Mario Spezza of Rational Youth and Pyer Desrochers. A multidisciplinary artist with a singular voice and an arresting presence, Champagne then joined force with experimentalist Bernard Gagnon whose works at the time ranged from free improvisation to electroacoustic music. He recruited former bandmate Angel Calvo, of new wave outfits Vex and Rational Youth, as well as Robert M. Lepage, whom he knew from his early years with the Experimental Music Workshop. Long-time Cham-pang collaborator Pierre-Laurier Lamarche and Daniel Lajoie completed the group, helping give it a new direction both sonically and performance-wise.

This LP contains material composed ahead of a defining concert at the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal’s Tritorium in April of 1982.

Format: LP, 180 gr – Limited edition
Musical Direction: Yvel Champagne and Bernard Gagnon
Music: Bernard Gagnon
Lyrics: Yvel Champagne
Images: Pierre-Laurier Lamarche
Design: Dominic Vanchesteing

Angel Calvo: Drums and Percussion
Yvel Champagne: Vocals
Bernard Gagnon: Synthesizers, Drum Machines, Electronics, and Dub
Daniel Lajoie: Lyricon
Pierre-Laurier Lamarche: Dub
Robert M. Lepage: Alto Saxophone
(Pierre Desrochers: Electronics)***

“Bella V” – Excerpt

“Oriental intrigue” – Excerpt

“Ziggurat” – Excerpt

“It may be acid rain, my love ***” – Excerpt

“Tant pis pour les heures de sommeil” – Excerpt

“Presqu’heureuse” – Excerpt

“Come se dice” – Excerpt

“[T]he electronic new wave duo Cham-pang’s Tant pis 81-82 sounds as unclassifiable today as it did when it was recorded 35 years ago, a fascinating and bewildering combination of electronically driven grooves and a warped pop sensibility, made truly exceptional by the power of the vocal delivery. Wonderfully bizarre, infectious, and perpetually fresh.” – Joseph Sannicandro (A Closer Listen)

“The album features chilly new wave warped by Bernard Gagnon’s fierce electronics, but is bolstered by Champagne’s fierce vocal delivery. At times, it sounds as if Champagne is delivering a spoken word performance, and at others she’s mellifluously yet chillingly spouting melodies. The musicians, meanwhile, are either laying down a slinky beat or are free improvising expertly. That such a tasty slice of Canadiana took this long to be unleashed is a crime. Many kudos to the folks behind the Tenzier label and their discerning curatorial vision for unearthing such a gem.” – Bryon Hayes (Exclaim!)

“Cham-pang formed in the early 1980s with members of Men Without Hats and Rational Youth before vocalist Yvel Champagne was joined by Bernard Gagnon (whose previous solo release from Tenzier is well worth seeking out as well) to create an alien avant-pop sound bridging the gap between minimal wave and no wave. As June [Records]’s Raf Reza pointed out, fans of Chris & Cosey or the Throbbing Gristle’s Hot On The Heels of Love will flip their wigs over this album. I don’t like making year end lists early because I always end up hearing amazing gems like this in December.” – Jesse Locke (author of Heavy Metalloid Music-The Story of Simply Saucer)

“On a du mal à croire que ce disque a été enregistré il y a une quarantaine d’années. Dans l’idée, d’accord, de la dark musique à synthés glaçants, mais dans le son, la chose est assez impressionnante. Ça doit être ça, les Montréalais, ça a une longueur d’avance. Car oui Cham-pang est un groupe qui a sévi à Montréal au début des années 1980. La couverture de ce LP met en avant la chanteuse et auteure (en français ou en anglais) Yvel Champagne qui assurait la ‘direction musicale’ du projet avec le compositeur Bernard Gagnon dont le disque Musique électronique 1975-1983 m’avait lui aussi impressionné il y a quelques années sur le même label (Tenzier). Cham-pang, c’est aussi d’autres musiciens : Angel Manuel Calvo (batterie, percussions), Daniel Lajoie (Lyricon), Pierre-Laurier Lamarche (dub), Robert M Lepage (sax) et Pierre Desrochers (traitements électroniques). Pour ce qui est de Tant Pis 81-82, comment dire ? quoi en penser ? (référence astucieuse au morceau Tant pis pour les heures de sommeil)… Eh bien ça bouleverse pas mal de schémas et pas mal de codes : new wave, indus, dance music, proto-electronica, synth-pop, chanson frisquaise… Alors, maintenant la question : À qui mon corps appartient ?” – Pierre Cécile (Le son du grisli)

“It is clear from the opening track, that we are dealing with something much more darker than the Ne mourrez pas EP. If some level of New-Wave sensibility can still be perceived through the catchy synth lines, the fact that these lines are delivered along with dark spoken words performances, crazy saxophone skronk, lo-fi circular rhythm and noisy electronics make industrial pioneer Throbbing Gristle or experimental weirdos The Legendary Pink Dots better points of reference than any Rational Youth record. Through Gagnon’s collage chops and brilliant manipulations …, the hit single potential of ‘Come Se Dice’ gets crushed by a raw compressed production, and the inherent funkiness of ‘Oriental Intrigue’ has to compete with a bunch of Space Invaders discovering the existence of the alto Saxophone. Even Champagne’s voice gets some ingenious creepy, and yet weirdly sensual, harmonizer trafficking. Despite their edginess, these tracks are still wise selections for any dance floor. Beside these potential hip DJ classics, a track like ‘It may be acid rain, my love’ with its multiple vintage electronic effects and concrete music influences would not feel out of place on a Luc Ferrari’s record, while the surrealistic kitschy charm of ‘Presqu’heureuse’ foreshadows the work of Montreal’s mavericks Les Georges Leningrad. Namedropping aside, the discovery of Champ-Pang’s Tant Pis 81-82 is something worth celebrating and will make for a great addition to any weird music library.” – Raphaël Foisy-Couture (Small Scale Music)

“Inclassable projet de la vague new wave montréalaise du début des années 80, Cham-pang n’a produit qu’un seul EP, Ne mourrez pas, sorti en 1981 sous YUL Records. […] Cham-pang a connu deux phases : la première, celle du EP, alors que c’était un duo davantage new wave constitué de l’envoûtante Champagne et de McCarthy aux claviers; et la deuxième, plus expérimentale, celle qui devait mener à un premier album, avec Champagne toujours en tête, cette fois-ci appuyée par Gagnon. Les collaborateurs s’y greffaient, formant un collectif aux horizons éclatés dont l’apex s’est dévoilé lors de Tant Pis Pour Les Heures De Sommeil, une performance multimédia qui a eu lieu au Tritorium du cégep du Vieux Montréal le 16 avril 1982. […] Tenzier fera paraître Tant pis 81-82, une session d’enregistrement inédite de matériel ayant servi de base pour ledit concert (et qui devait aussi mettre la table pour un premier album qui n’a finalement jamais vu le jour), qui a été « bâtardisée » par les interventions électroniques de Bernard Gagnon.” – Benoit Poirier (Vice QC)