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Fredericton duo, CNUS, explore ‘ambient improvisation’

Around the time that Cedric Noel and Tate LeJeune were debating what key their recently released “Deduction” was in, a group of little girls walked by in ballerina outfits, heading towards their evening class down the hall. In other rooms of The Charlotte Street Arts Centre there was the Monster Mayhem! art exhibition going on and the kick off of The Silver Wave Film Festival. Cedric and Tate were preparing for their performance in the Connexion ARC gallery of the building, where the duo was celebrating the release of their EP empathy, please.

“Cedric and I have a very similar melodic and textural sensibility,” explained LeJeune. The two local musicians have known and worked together for some time, but their newest collaboration was somewhat of a departure from their usual work.

Bradley Parker-Cedric Noel-C N U SC N U S was formed this past summer when Noel was asked to perform as part of the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival’s FUZE series. As the festival focuses primarily on classical music, Noel and LeJeune created “Deduction,” an eleven-minute interpretation of classical pieces.

“It was actually way easier than I thought it would be,” said Noel. As neither of them have a background in classical music their attempt was to “modulate the sounds and try to make them as non-classical as possible.”


Following their debut show and subsequent sessions, the duo found a sense of comfort and that improvisation was easy with each other.

“That level of comfort that we did have made us want to explore this collaboration further,” said LeJeune.

The end result was what LeJeune describes as “ambient improvisation,” and along with recording “Deduction” in Noel’s basement, the two also completed two songs from half formed ideas, “10 hours” and “near, bye.”

Though empathy, please was only about a three-day process, both artists agree that the recording was exhausting.

“I found this project emotionally taxing,” said LeJeune. Faced with the question, “why are we compelled to do this?” the band wrestled with the idea of recording improvisational music when they argue that, “it sucks the life being out of what improvisation is.”

Despite this, the three song EP was released on Nov. 3, and in support Noel and LeJeune embarked on a three-show tour, playing in Sackville, Fredericton and Halifax.

The Fredericton show, which took place on Nov. 5, started off with a solo set from Jane Blanchard. She began the night with a cover of Courtney Barnett and went through original songs, one of which had been written the same day.

After Blanchard came Keighley Nunes, a poet who yelled, smashed a wine glass, and opened up to a room full of strangers in a way that was commendable and captivating.

Between solo performances, LeJeune and Noel sat together and beside a couple of dimly lit lamps they played their latest work, though of course with a little improvisation.

“We do feel most comfortable working off each other in a live setting without any forethought,” said LeJeune.

“It’s nice to have a project in little spurts,” he said. While they do not have any plans to record anything else as C N U S, they hope to go on tour again in the winter and will always be open to continue the project if the logistics are right. Currently they are already putting their sights on a new project with Heather Ogilvie and Scott Cuzner.

The EP is available for download for $5 but if you can get in touch with the boys you might be able to snag a cassette version of the release, as there was a limited amount of copies made.


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