October 1, 1998: Experimental guitarists Eugene Chadbourne and René Lussier play together for the first time on the stage of Les Instants Chavirés in Paris. They came to the concert unprepared and performed a set of noisy improvisations tinged with winks at Quebecer and American roots music. Fast forward to May 19, 2002: At the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville the duo played its second-ever concert. This time they spent a few days rehearsing at Lussier's country house, working out a set of rearranged traditional tunes from both sides of the U.S.A./Canada border. L'Oasis (named after a French restaurant linked to the 1998 show) combines moments from these two live encounters. It makes for a very good listen, diverse and well-balanced. Whether they take out the steel wool and modified banjo or dive headfirst into joyous tunes like "Alabama Jubilee" or "Buckdancer's Choice," Chadbourne and Lussier are obviously enjoying themselves and each other. They trade solos in comical fashion and lure each other into mad deconstruction and detuning of bluegrass favorites. Highlights include an appropriate rendition of Doug Sahm's "Louis Riel" (after all, the the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville premiered Norman Guilbeault's opera about this historical Canadian figure), Eddie Poirier's "First Day of Spring," and the anything-goes (and everything-happens!) improv "Scruggs Soufflé." Lussier's editing job gives the impression of a single, continuous live recording. Recommended for fans of either guitarist.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
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