home » cd catalogue » Léandre, Houle & Strid - Last Seen Headed » David Dupont, Cadence Magazine

Léandre/Houle/Strid - Last Seen Headed

David Dupont, Cadence Magazine

That the trio Last Seen Headed ends their set (encore excluded) at the Sons d’Hiver Festival with a group decrescendo into silence, leaving the audience poised and waiting before they burst into well earned applause, makes for a perfect conclusion. As the trio grows softer, the sounds of the individual instruments fade into each other (save for Houle’s brief valedictory bird call) until quiet is all that’s left.
From the opening moments I was struck me by the manner in which certain tones from each of the instruments sounded like sympathetic vibrations from one of the others. This sense of sonic unity—with the trio functioning as if one instrument—persists throughout. The percussion mimics the click of clarinet keys or rapping on the body of the bass. The clarinet’s high tones blend with high bass harmonics and the low bass tones resonate like a low tom-tom or bass drum. Bass glisses merge with drum slides. A rapid roll with brushes sounds like a clarinet trill. This textural unity fits with the way Leandre, Houle, and Strid structure each piece, shifting subtly and as unit. On “Last Seen Headed V,” which opens with Strid’s percussion sounding like he’s rattling around in a kitchen drawer, Leandre adds her voice. She offers a monologue that moves from anxious desire to rough boasting, then suddenly switches character and, with Houle at her side, concludes with a mewing aria. All this relies on all members being at once virtuosos and sympathetic teammates. The trio is such an even-handed unit that it is particularly striking when, on “IV,” they launch into a rousing episode of Free Swing, everyone locked into the traditional horn-bass-drum roles. That doesn’t last long though before that image dissipates and the trio’s own distinct shape emerges, leaving an incredible lasting image in my auditory memory.