Volume 1 is the musical representation of nature’s beauty and its quiet vibration.

As the story goes, Montreal-based composer Mathieu David Gagnon takes the name Flore Laurentienne from a 1935 book by Brother Marie-Victorin, Quebec’s first environmentalist. That tome, a record of plant-based biodiversity in the Laurentides, was more than the sum of its content. In much the same way, Flore Laurentienne’s Volume 1 is grander than its eight instrumentals pieces; each composition spills colour and vitality outside their lines, like wildflowers refusing to be bound by borders natural and human-made.

Growing up, my dad had a stack of vinyl 101 Strings albums that we often played in the winter. Snowed in and cozy in our sunken Seventies living room, those melodic strings were like a promissory note that nature’s cycle hadn’t abandoned us and spring would be along soon enough. Gagnon’s style — blending melodic string orchestrations with analog synths — amplifies that feeling a hundred-fold. Truly a product of its environment, Volume 1 plays out like a cinematic accompaniment to Technicolor moving images of Gagnon’s living Québec. The unexpected reverb at the start of “Fleuve no 1” is arrestingly beautiful; ever-expanding ripples of sound that resonates throughout Volume 1; so much so that when the melody returns to close out the record, you realize its haunted echo has been in your head all along.

Flore Laurentienne eloquently evokes the wonder and awe of nature Brother Marie-Victorin tried to capture in his book. Timeless, classic, and yet chillingly refreshing and new, Volume 1 is the musical representation of nature’s beauty and its quiet vibration.

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