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French-Canadian pianist/keyboard player Michel DeMars was so impressed with his introduction to hot-air ballooning at le Festival de montgolfiéres de Gatineau (a regularly scheduled festival of that airborn activity) in 1988 that he recorded an album inspired by this event. L'envolée is an exciting assortment of music, from a neo-classical instrumental version of new age music to a European-flavored (but not Berlin school) EM to well-crafted contemporary instrumental tracks. He has a lot of help on the album from other artists on instruments like violin, flute, percussion, cello, guitar, and bass. In fact, this recording plays much more like an ensemble or band album than that of a single artist. Even songs like "Soupir D'" (on which Michel is joined only by Nicole Laurin on voice - i.e., wordless vocals - and Daniel Schnobb on percussion) have the "full" sound that characterizes a group's music.

Trying to accurately describe the various tracks is difficult for two reasons. One is that some songs go through significant time signature and melody changes as they evolve. The other is simply that the music is quite unique when compared to other forms of new age music. The album-opening title track begins with plaintive acoustic guitar, flute, wordless vocals and cello performing a slow sensuous melody. But then, overt electronic keyboard textures are brought in and the song becomes more dramatic as the melodic refrain soars on solo violin, counterpointed by laser-like synth effects. "Soupir D'" goes from gentle piano to punchy harpsichord to its main refrain - a happy carefree affair that is first played by piano alone (punctuated by the sound of rain and thunder) before timpani and assorted synth strings come on full strength.

I describe the music on the album as European (while DeMars is not European, his French lineage, and his living in the French Canadian province of Quebec, have had an influence on his music, as far as I'm concerned.) because, in my experience, there is a "feel" to music from "the continent" when it is something other than classic Berlin school. You hear it in, for example, the work of Klaus Schönning. A lot drama and lot of musicality are usually brought into play. Elements of pop, classical, and new age all coalesce into some kind of hybrid, with the emphasis always on producing music that emphasizes melody and rhythm over an ambient approach or an ethereal new age sensibility. Yet calling the music on L'envolée adult contemporary is doing it a disservice - it's more complex than just crafting hooks and refrains. "Bleuphorie" bears some resemblance to the work of classic new age musician Ray Lynch. DeMars uses the cello in much the same way, integrating his keyboards with the string instrument and using plucked arpeggios to excellent effect. But DeMars also has a light airy side to his electronic music compositions, which you'll hear on "L'ere du Vent," with its spirited sequenced notes flitting one way while flute and violin flit the other. When percolating synth percussion enters the song, it all just takes off wonderfully - flying, soaring, tripping along merrily. DeMars even offers up a chill-out track with "Celeste Voyage" (oddly-titled but so what?) - featuring a trip-hop Enigma-esque beat married to gentle piano and lovely flute.

I enjoyed myself the many times I played L'envolée before writing this review, although I continue to be stymied as to whom to recommend this album. It's unlike most of the music I review, yet it's so damn easy to like that I want to convince some of you readers to explore it. If you like songs that have the accessibility of more contemporary new age music along with a certain blending of neo-classical textures with elements of European EM, this album will probably enchant you in the same way that the hot-air balloons enchanted Michel DeMars all those years ago.

Reviewed by Bill Binkelman

- Wind and Wire

"CD: L'Envolee"

French Canadian composer Michel DeMars has released a technical masterpiece with soul and spirit -- quite an accomplishment considering how well-produced and engineered it seems to be.
According to the artist, the entire seven-song CD was composed and produced with the idea of being high above the earth in a hot air balloon (whence the artwork -- which is gorgeous!) Adjectives like swirling, uplifting, floating, euphoric and surreal come to mind while listening to this instrumental work of art.
DeMars' tunes need a multiple classification, however. Let's put him in the New Age/Electronica/Celtic and Pop genre -- just to muddy things up a bit. But there's nothing confusing, or muddy, about this music at all. It's crystal clear, clean and beautiful. It's a perfect melting pot of several styles.
Each tune is great and stands on its own, but taken as a whole, this is a wonderful tapestry that paints a scene of surreality and ethereal beauty.
Instrumentally, this is precise and masterful. DeMars primarily plays piano and electronic keyboards and does it very well. His arrangements of the other guests and their skills is also well done. Daniel Beriault on flute and David Pichette on acoustic violin stand out the most amongst the talented group, as does the incredible, hauntingly gorgeous voicing of Nicole Laurin (most notably on the title track and "Espace-Magique").
Best tunes on the CD? "Venu du Ciel" ("It Came from the sky") -- begins with a haunting intro, some choral "ooooooh's" and DeMars' powerful piano; and the up-tempo "L'ere du Vent" ("The Period of the Wind"). The latter is an orchestrated techno-pop piece, bouncy and energetic with a great groove featuring the percussion of Mario Lacasse and the strings of Pichette and Pawel Marjanovic.
In short, this is great stuff! For folks who don't quite like orchestra/classical, aren't quite pop/Top 40 fans and can't quite get into the techno sound, or for those who like all those styles -- this will thrill you for sure with its musical genius, catchy grooves and wonderful melodies.

By Les Reynolds - Indie-Music.com


L'ENVOLEE Turkoiz's Instrumental album was release on the International markets in 2000.


Feeling a bit camera shy




Film & Documentary scores :

Name of the rose- Scored the Drama-Thriller short film /spring 2004.Director/Michael Moncada. Writer/Producer - Henry Bada, Gold Coast Pictures Toronto, Canada.Actors: Shaun Benson , ( K-19,The
Associates, ,Just cause) Cara Pifko,(The In-laws, This Is Wonderland )

Clone R Us-Scored the short film. 2004. Writer /Director Bryan Robbins,Raubier Productions Los Angeles, CA Sound Designer:Derek Vanderhorst (Anger Management, Adaptation)

As it was yesterday- Scored the thriller short film
2004.Writer/Director-Hilton Ruiz. Hilton Ruiz films, New York, NY.

The Zone of the Champions –Sound Design and music composed for a documentary on Olympics Athletes. With among others: Nawal El Moutawakel,Tony Hawk,Cathy Freeman,Greg Joy, Joyan Koss,etc… Balestra Productions for TV5 Canada, Europe,Australia and Asia.2004

Left 4 Dead – Did some underscore music for the Martial Art feature film. 2004. Director - Ross Boyask/Producer–Phil Hobden, Modern Life.
Pevensey , UK . Main Actor, Glenn Salvage

Blind eyes- Scored the Thriller feature film /summer-fall 2004. Director/Producer-Jake Ross, Moving Pictures Entertainment Toronto,Canada.

Independent Living- Scored the Drama short film
2004.Director-Leah Walker. Producer - Jordan Walker, Neophyte Productions, Toronto, Canada.

La Capitale de Cristal – Composed and Produced the music underscore and Theme for the 30 min television documentary. Produced by Balestra
Productions for TQS national TV, Montreal, Canada (2004)Won Best full-length television National Program at the IFEA (International Festival and Events Association)in Boston ,USA.

Hi-Intake - Composed and produced the music underscore for the television sport show. Produced by GPI Corporation for Global TV and TSN Toronto, Canada (2003-2004)

Quand je serai Grand –Composed and produced the music underscore for the documentary with Paulo Coelho “L’Alchimiste” Balestra Productions
for TFO-TVA national TV Canada,2004.

Drive Thru Life-Scored the short film. 2004. Writer /Director Jason Husby,Minneapolis, Mn

Ages of Hunting- scored the comedie short film 2003.Director - Tapani Viikkila / Producer - George Varotsis,London, England.

Jackpost -Composer for the Comedie short film /
Summer 2003. Writer/Berangere Director/Producer Najat Jellab, Co-production between ( Paris-France & Montreal ,Canada)JACKPOST has been officially selected for exhibition in the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival 2003

Dead all my life- Scored the Drama short film /spring 2003.Director/Producer Walter Alza, 44 Films Toronto,Canada.(Walter worked as an actor on Dolph Lundgren last feature film)

Au ciel O ciel -Composed the underscore of the
film-Documentary. Writer-Director is Comedien Gaston Lepage . Montreal ,Qc (2003) Au ciel O ciel had a world premiere screening at the ONF theatre of Montreal last April 2003.

Winterlude 2003 - Music composer ,musical director for Winterlude 25th anniversary opening Show ceremony staged outdoors on Major Hill Parc. An audience of 12 thousand people showed up .(2003)