Canadian band Huis (Dutch for ‘house’) was founded in 2009 by bassist Michel Joncas and then keyboardist Pascal la Pierre. Eventually guitarist Michel St-Père, singer Sylvain Descoteaux and drummer William Regnier join the band to record debut CD “Despite Guardian Angels” in 2014. Then la Pierre leaves the band and a new keyboard player named Johnny Maz joins the ranks. In 2016 “Neither In Heaven”, the band’s second album, will be released. It is obvious that these musicians are enjoying themselves playing in the vein of Knight Area/Mystery.
I feel very much at home with the music of the band. Their third album “Abandoned”, reviewed here, has, if you consider this to be a home, the right architecture and furnishing in my opinion. The architectural style is unmistakably neo-progressive, nothing more and nothing less. The aforementioned workpieces of the band are built on exactly the same pillars. Comfort radiates fromit.
When you enter the house, you are immediately confronted with the comprehensive bass playing of Joncas and not much later with the excellent vocals of Descoteaux. The clear tones of Joncas and the heated voice of Descoteaux carry you effortlessly through the long corridor and both gentlemen are happy to show you all the rooms within the building. A great synth solo sounds in the reception room and in the meantime you realize that this music is cast in stone.
The catchy AOR song The Giant Awakens sounds in the kitchen, whereas multiple harmony vocals beautifully frame the almost-hard rock sounds. It’s heading towards Styx and even Deep Purple. What follows are two epic tracks that both clock in at double digits. Here we can hear Huis at its best. Images of a nice, cozy but above all spacious living room appear. Caducée starts off very melodious as if it were one of Mystery’s songs, which makes sense since guitarist St-Père plays in both bands. His playing is always the icing on the cake throughout the entire album. As for the atmosphere of Caducée, the lion’s share of the song has a relaxed mid-tempo groove with Descoteaux’s voice very reminiscent of Phil Griffiths (Poor Genetic Material). Descoteaux also has that Damian Wilson-like quality in the more intense moments on the album.
We can get out of our comfy chair to stir up the fireplace. The first couple of minutes of Stolen are quite loud. The song then takes a quiet turn with, among other things, the flute of Jean Pageau’s (Mystery). What follows is a piece with sustained piano playing.
And so it goes on and on throughout the album. Without putting themselves in danger they present two instrumentals, Solitude and the smooth Haunting Days that are certainly reminiscent of their compatriots Saga. The intermediate Chasing Morning Glory is a varied song that somehow has a sixties ring about it. We Are Not Alone is a beautiful ballad complete with dreamy flute, a track with bedroom allure. At the end of the corridor, the doors open to Oude Kerk III (Old Church), the sequel to the first two parts of “Despite Guardian Angels”. In this third part Huis comes with a sound in the vein of the old IQ.
“Abandoned” is a great house to stay in and Michel Joncas and associates are excellent hosts. Listening to all their albums makes me think back to my childhood when I drew many a map of an imaginary house. Actually, the Canadian band does exactly the same with their fantasy.
© Dick van der Heijde 2023