"Jean-Michel Blais strings together stunning improvisations and composed pieces that harken back to Chopin, Satie, and modern minimalists like Harold Budd... The music breathes, and it invites you to take a moment and recognize there’s still plenty of beauty left in the world."
- TIME Magazine, #10 Album Of The 2016
"Simply put, Il is a masterpiece." - Exclaim (9/10)
“...nothing short of stunning… This is music that makes your chest feel tight. It is music that feels like clusters of stars being born and dying. It is music that will persist.” - IMPOSE
“Blais's compositions can be as poignant as they are playful, mixing together accessible melodies with experimental flourishes.” - CBC
“...meditative modern classical instrumentals… stark and accessible emotionality” - The Fader
“the blissful eight-tracker captures Blais' penchant for experimentation” - XLR8R
“...a blindingly bright 28-minute release exploring piano textures” - FACT Mag
“a succinct collection of minimal piano compositions that runs the gamut of human emotions: hope, sadness, joy and fear” - Noisey
“There's this sense of measured extemporaneity to his playing that allows my mind to wander unlike anything else this year.” - MTV, Meaghan Garvey
“Il features both astonishing flurries of notes and graceful pacing...It’s thrilling,
versatile music.” - The Verge
PHOTO CREDIT : ISIS ESSERY // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Today, Jean-Michel Blais shares the official visuals for the single “il”, taken from his acclaimed debut album of the same name. Directed and produced by DTO Films, the video presents a series of quiet, meditative moments that become increasingly tense as they’re examined closer. Of the track, Blais says:
"’Who's il?’ became a recurrent question revealing both the listener's curiosity and its difficulty to tolerate ambiguity. Instead of answering it, the clip rather juxtaposes many possibilities of what it could have signified, evoking to the viewer a myriad of incoherent narrations. Confronted to this Absence (of meaning) the viewer therefore struggles to reunite those scattered fragments into an impossible entity, meanwhile becoming the artist itself. So, who's il?"
Blais recently performed a sold out headline show at Toronto’s Great Hall and a sold out collaborative performance in Montreal for Red Bull Music Academy with Grammy-nominated electronic producer CFCF.
Since the April release of Il, Blais’ single “Nostos” has been streamed over 10 million times on Spotify, hitting #1 on Hype Machine’s Popular chart twice, and #14 on Spotify’s Global Viral chart. The album debuted #1 on the Canadian Billboard Classical chart, was long-listed for a Polaris Music Prize, and landed on TIME Magazine’s top ten albums of 2016. Blais participated in Nils Frahm’s International Piano Day with a performance for the CBC and completed a month-long residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS - IL (Deluxe/LP)
1. Hasselblad 4 (Improvisation)
4. Nostos (feat. BUFFLO)
5. Ad Claritatem Domine
6. Hasselblad 2 (Improvisation)
9. pour Johanne
10. Rondo majeur (trois mains)
MORE ABOUT JEAN-MICHEL BLAIS
Jean-Michel Blais is a 31 year-old pianist from Montreal, Canada. His enchanting instrumental compositions pair the melodic pop sensibilities of Amélie-era Yann Tiersen and Arts & Crafts alumni Chilly Gonzales with the breathtaking technical skill of classical minimalists like Philip Glass and Erik Satie.
Blais grew up in a rural French Catholic town in Quebec absent of Culture save for a giant Encyclopedia he’d read feverishly as a child. At age 9, Blais began tinkering on his family’s organ, improvisation, and at age 11 started to write original compositions and taking piano lessons. A natural talent, by 17 he was invited to the Trois-Rivieres Music Conservatory and began training as a classical pianist. However, Blais was entering the throes of teenage rebellion and found the constraints of formal training cumbersome rigid structure. Gravitating towards experimentation, Blais wasn’t content to be told how to play, and not to improvise or compose.
A few years later, he attracted the attention of famed playwright and director, Robert Lepage, who introduced Blais to the who’s who of Quebec’s entertainment industry. With no particular plan for a music career, he quickly took a step back and decided it was time for more explorations.
He moved to Europe in his mid-20s living in Berlin and spent six months in South America. During that time he’d intermittently compose music with long gaps of not even touching a piano. Blais finally settled in Montreal where he rediscovered his love for composing and performing which caught the ear of Arts & Crafts. Written and recorded at home over two years by improvising every day, Jean-Michel Blais’ debut album, Il, was released on April 8th 2016.