http://The winter 2020 issue of U.K. music mag Shindig gave a 4 star review of Shadows of Ecstasy by the Scottish music journalist, Johnnie Johnstone. When Breau was interviewed for Shindig in 2016, he was as comfortable waxing lyrical about his own musical influences as he was in recalling his time as frontman for rustbelt proto -punk legends Simply Saucer. Recorded at Grant Ave. (Dan Lanois’ home studio) in 1988-89, this is Breau’s long shelved solo debut album, the first recordings he made following the band’s dissolution. It was a turbulent period for him personally, an one senses here aconscious retreat from the notoriously crazy goings on in the Saucer household. The evidence suggests Breau sought refuge and inspiration in contemporary indie guitar music and this delightful, largely acoustic affair recalls the likes of The Go-Betweens and The Chills, while anticipating the new wave of Americana (Wilco, Son Volt) to come. Some tracks would be re-recorded for 2018’s self-titled, while the line-up-featuring SauEdgar Breau finds his blue period/Graham Rockingham Hamilton Spec
Patches of Blue review in Baby Sue
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Review of Patches of Blue in Roktober
Hamilton Blues Lovers reviews Patches of Blue
Bob Mersereau's review of Patches of Blue
Ocean Pedestrian review of Patches of Blue
Ear Buddy review of Patches of Blue 2012
Gary Pig Gold's review of Canadian Primitive in Pop Diggers
Gary Pig Gold's review of my self titled 2018 album in Pop Diggers
Gary Pig Gold review of Patches of Blue
Chris Stigliano review of Canadian Primitive and Shadows of Ecstasy
Graham Rockingham reviews Shadows of Ecstasy for the Hamilton Spec
Bob Mersereau reviews Shadows of Ecstasy June 2021
Johnnie Johnstone reviewed my self titled album in the Dec. 2020 issue of U.K. magazine Shindig.
Simply Saucer legend Edgar Breau has been making great music of his own, since Canadian Primitive in 2004 and this, his third longplayer, is his most accomplished set yet. ‘He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead’, a Yeats inspired murder ballad, makes for a spellbinding opener, Breau marrying the haunted lyric to some equally evocative spectral guitar shapes in a widescreen textured arrangement. Elsewhere he curates a glorious cornucopia of pop and folk musics, effortlessly amalgamating Faheyesque picking, raga-influenced psychedelia (‘A Penny Fare To Babylon’), CSN-style West Coast harmonising (‘Martha’s Back’) and avant-garde guitar experiments with fluid cosmic country and pastoral Anglo-pop reminiscent of Michael Head and The Lilac Time. Yet, the ghosts of Syd and Skip remain, Breau’s formative influences still quietly at work beneath the luxurious veneer. And it’s very eclecticism should more than compensate those disappointed by the absence of SImply Saucer’s proto-punk disorder. One to treasure.
Chris Stigliano of Black to Comm fame reviewed Shadows of Ecstasy in the May issue of Blog to Comm
Edgar Breau-SHADOWS OF ECSTASY CD (Flying Inn Records)
Looks like we got a real contender here.
This was ex- and future Simply Saucer Edgar Breau's early-nineties band, an electro-acoustic ensemble that, even with the presence of longtime Saucer bass guitarist Kevin Christoff, sounded not so much as a hard rock enterprise as it did like one of those quieter acts that used to pop up at the ol' CB's 313 Gallery next door.
And Shadows of Ecstasy are sure as non-pretentious straightforward entertaining as I found a fair number of those acts from the Gallery I caught via cybercast to be. Especially the ones that were still stuck in some sorta past musical groove void of the various grotesqueries that have plagued recent rockist moves to the point of total alienation. Now this sound is something I can wrap my psyche around THAT'S for sure!
Thankfully this acoustic-oriented music ain't of the "Kumbaya" variety either! Scads of classic Dylan with various Reedian moves can be discerned and the results sound way fresher'n most alla the various precious petunias moaning about the latest atrocity that I've heard for quite some time. Breau's vocal abilities tend to remind me a bit of those of a certain Jonathan Richman, and the music tends to be a little like Breau's post-nineties efforts with even more classy late-sixties neo-NUGGETS meets HAVE MOICY! moves ('n don't forget Syd B. on "Pony Ride"!) with various pop chart topping cues with slight Association harmonies tossed in. (For more information please consult your copies of BLACK TO COMM #18 which is long out of print.) If you go for that stuff you might like these pretty solid efforts. If you don't you shouldn't be anywhere near this blog!
The lyrical content, for once, is quite sharp and such a relief from the usual introspective mulch that's been so in-vogue as of late to the point of pure nausea. Extremely absorbing and based on truly classical reading and an understanding of current mores too --- I mean who else but Breau would think of writing a sequel to BILLY BUDD ("Handsome Sailor") or dig up that truth about Margaret Sanger that has only recently brought Planned Infanticide to reluctantly disavow their very own Alfred E. Neuman? Wish a lyric sheet was available what wha' th' hey? At least I can make 'em out a whole lot better here'n I could on those live tapes where the quiet music battles it out with local yokels talking about their friends' trip to Florida.
A beautiful effort (with melodies, remember THOSE?) that really reinforces those springtime urges to come to life at least one more time. Maybe someone out there can tell you how to latch onto a copy! No info on the sleeve so I sure as heck can't.
This review was written by Ottawa On area poet, Michael Nelson. Patches of Blue
http://It`s hard to know what to say... I don`t want to lavish praise but I don`t want to downplay my reactions to the songs. A long time Saucer fan, like so many people, playing the Cyborg album with a frequency and at such a high volume that the angular guitar lines, unique vocals, thumping walking bass lines, screwy, otherworldly electronics, and the ferocious drum cacophony, are etched in my brain like striations on a hurtling comet... And, of course, grateful for Saucer's belated recognition and acknowledgement, the reunion, the second album, exit plexit, clearly invisible... I am a biased fan, an admirer of your song writing capabilities, your poetry. So, of course, I instantly enjoyed Canadian Primitive and the musical direction you had taken. In fact I was excited that you were still composing, that there was more music to be discovered. I hope Patches of Blue will find it's audience, or as with Saucer, avid listeners with attuned ears will note the worthiness of it's arrival to the world of sound. Strange thinking this is your first proper studio album. Canadian Primitive is really polished. I have to say that your patience and dedication to this album are fully realized. A diversity of song styles (folk, blues, rock, country, disco-funk, jangly pop, psychedelic, nuanced finger-style, etc...) and song structures, arrangements and instrumentation, coupled with consistent, deeply reflective, playful, sorrowful, ecstatic, romantic, road and sea savvy lyrics, create a spate of emotional evocations and moods for each selection. There is a geographical sense to the songs, strong use of setting, whether on back roads, waterways, glimpses through rain soaked windows, or the tropical, place is a tangible element. I feel the songs retain all of, what I imagine to be, the intensity of their original composition - the when and where of first struck chords and fitted phrases - through the process of refinement into the final form they now occupy. It will take more time for the songs to sink in. More listening. The opening title track Patches of Blue kicks things of with a comforting melancholic lushness. A song for a calming storm. A western, I reckon. A love song, turbulent, gritty, full of run-off. The clouds gradually parting before reforming. Transitional Nature. Longevity... Up tempo, a song for departures, Open Road should be playing on the radio of every eighteen wheeler on the 401. A trans-Canada highway mainstay. Pennsylvania feels like it emerges from a long night of driving to a morning of sun light flashing through the trees. It is impossible not to think of trains. Tumbling rivers, isolation. Lilting fiddle trekking through woods, rocky canyons. Rugged hearts' journey. Solitude together; lonely union. Listening to Rainmakin' Man is like reading Robinson Crusoe, Two-Years Before the Mast, or Melville's seafaring greats. The tone is ultramarine. Every coastal town pub should have this one on the juke. Timeless. Gosh Edgar, if the Canadian music industry knew what was going on, this would be song of the year. Further exhibition of range and delivery is the disco/funk/roots-rock thumper One Kind of Love. A Dionysian dance hall groove urging the exchange of vital fluids. Do you think you could send or email me the lyrics for this album and Canadian Primitive? Only if it's not too much trouble. Another peak moment on the album is maria the sea and the sun. Subtle, colorful, lush, exotic, mysterious and sensual, this song is placed perfectly at the halfway point and transitions wonderfully to the second act, juxtaposed nicely against the slow hard blues of cry bitter rain. Colina's backing vocals are perfect on maria, the song itself is a well crafted story, lyrically buoyant, with a charged up lead guitar full of bright touches. It makes me think of Os Mutantes. I am happy to finally have this song which I first heard when you played it at the Black Sheep Inn. I wanted to use the word wonderful a lot to describe this one. 'Scratch my eye's wide open at midnight.' The horror of the blues! Another international sounding song girl on a carousel has wonderful interplay with the backing singer Colina Phillips. This one will end up on a soundtrack for a movie set in Paris. There is just something so Os Mutantes going on here and in maria! Great arrangement. Cotton candy, mopeds, traffic circles, cobbled streets, delicious pastries... A lot of fun! Nostalgia, revelry, tip 'o' the hat to road trips past, lovelorn, Dreams of Kerouac is a classic twanger, a jamboree ditty, full of place and memory that spill beyond the borders of the song. I presume this is autobiographical. How long were you in Winnipeg? Or is it a story for the song? I've been thinking about re-reading Big Sur. Quietly deceptive, in the form of an easy breezy sounding chord progression, touches of harmonica, coloring and shading with accordion, fiddle, piano, and a sturdy lead guitar line, Simcoe County Country Girl is tinged with a soft sadness that is bearable but persistent. There is a longing that love cannot cure. Fast becoming another album favorite, She Love Me Like a Train, is a great solo performance. Revealing lyrics. And finally, the new arrangement of Dandelion Kingdom. Although this one was on the second Saucer album it was definitely an Edgar Breau Song. I don't know if you have kids but I could always picture you singing this one to your kids and them being grateful. A beautiful version. I always listen to this one when I go camping. You sent me the video but the link didn't work. Is it back up? Thanks again Edgar for sending the cd and the poster. Much appreciation. Nice design, layout and packaging too. An excellent blend of tradition, experimentation, and your own unique expression and story telling prowess. I consider an album like this to be the antidote to post-rock. Again, I still need to listen to it a few more times to really familiarize myself with the songs.
Bob Bryden, of Canadian psyche band legends, Christmas, Reign Ghost, Benzene Jag, Age of Mirrors and stellar solo projects wrote this review of Shadows of Ecstasy.
http://Edgar Breau's 'new' album 'Shadows of Ecstasy' is, in fact, an unreleased project from 1991. For some strange reasons, and this world is full of them (especially in the music business), it was never released at that time. 'Tis a pity, because it surely would have launched his solo career properly at a key moment in the artist's life. Still, here it is now and it can be positioned correctly in his catalogue of projects. The album consists of, by my count, at least 7 songs which did actually appear on Edgar's later records. There seems to be at least one song which has been repeated later verbatim from these sessions. What we get here are early, great versions of some of Edgar's finest compositions. 'Precincts of Felicity' (later 'Precincts' on 'Canadian Primitive') and 'Handsome Sailor' which also made it to that later album are stand-outs. Also of serious note are titles exclusive to this release. The opener, 'Flags of the World' is a rousing little ditty while the intriguing 'New Sacred Cow Blues' was construed by one listener as 'Martin Luther's Blues' as the recurring line is about nailing a protest(ant) to a door. 'Shout About It' is also very appealing new/old rocker. Other songs on 'Shadows' like 'Lorraine', 'Rockin' Chair', 'King of China's Daughter', 'Hiding Place,' and 'That Was the Week That Was' are titles which made it on to later projects. Here they appear in energetic, youthful and highly competent renditions. Edgar's guitar playing can only be described as rollicking, fluid and steeped in melody. (His British folk influences nearly always showing!) As a songwriter, Mr. Breau is a consummate story-teller and his vocals evoke dramatically the plaintive tears and joys of the persons and situations he sings about. Everything Edgar does gives the impression of subterranean activity. It's never just about what's going on above ground. There's a kind of seismic, churning quality to his music which suggests volcanic activity and imminent explosion. The quality lies in the way he wrangles this energy and keeps it harnessed. The songs demand your attention therefore the only thing I lament with his projects is that there are rarely lyric sheets. As it is and as a series of bona fide stories set to song, 'Shadows of Ecstasy' touched my heart frequently and made me smile.
The Dean of east coast Canada's music journalists, Bob Mersereau, weighed in on my self titled solo album.
Flying Inn Recordings
Edgar Breau may be best known as the founder of Hamilton, Ontario’s cult ‘70s psych/proto-punk band Simply Saucer, but he has forged a parallel path as a solo musician. Schooled in folk song traditions, literary fixations, and the fingerstyle guitar playing of John Fahey, his output stretches from 2004’s Canadian Primitive to 2012’s Patches of Blue. These albums have showcased Breau’s bewitching melodies, yet none have given them the lush arrangements and filmic ambience they so greatly deserve... until now.
Breau’s self-titled tour de force was painstakingly completed over three years by producers Adam Bentley and Jordan Mitchell (The Dirty Nil, Single Mothers, Greys) in their backyard shed recording studio, TAPE. Welcoming a Hamilton rogues’ gallery of guests, it includes contributions from Blue Rodeo drummer Glenn Milchem, Hawks guitarist Mike Eastman, plus Simply Saucer members Kevin Christoff, Colina Phillips, Ed Roth, and Mike Trebilcock (The Killjoys). Finally, Gaven Dianda (The Flashing Lights) added the ethnomusicological flourishes of Afghan rabab, sitar, and other medieval instruments on “A Penny Fare To Babylon.”
Beginning in Bentley’s living room, the first song Breau recorded was album opener “He Wishes His Beloved Were Dead”, inspired by W.B. Yeats’ 1899 murder ballad poem of the same name. Fleshed out by cellist Anna Jarvis (The Rest) and upright bassist Chris Jamieson, its most mesmerizing contribution came from vocalist Colina Phillips (Alice Cooper, Bruce Cockburn, Anne Murray), who performed wordless murmurs as the ghost of an R&B singer coming back from the dead.
Edgar Breau’s vibrant palette ranges from the stark “Martha’s Back” to the string-laden “My Dark Star” and the epic studio construction of centerpiece “Mount Idaho” (crammed with over 60 instrumental tracks). “That Was The Week That Was” draws on influences from the British Invasion pop of The Kinks and pastoral folk of Fairport Convention, juxtaposing with the cosmic country of “Why Does It Have To Be This Way?”, which concludes with an outro of free-form guitar wrangling in the vein of Bill Orcutt. Throughout their lengthy recording sessions, the producers continued to add what they call “otherworldly sonic sculpting” with instruments such as the ARP string ensemble, kalimba, and an Autoharp treated in John Cage fashion with stones dropped on to simulate the sound of explosions.
“Adam and Jordan have different backgrounds than other producers I’ve worked with, so they understood the language of where I’m coming from,” Breau concludes. “Strings were definitely going to be part of it, like Nico’s Chelsea Girl, a thicker sound with impressionistic arrangements. I wanted this album to be cinematic, a painting.”
- Jesse Locke, author of Heavy Metalloid Music: The Story of Simply Saucer