was the prime mover on Montreal's new music scene. His guitar work has been compared to
, with whom he has often toured and recorded. Spread between solo work, duos, and large ensemble pieces, between studio compositions, structured improvisation, free improv, and film music, his impressive body of work represents a full course in musique actuelle, a term he helped to peg down. His masterpiece remains the speech-music collage
, which earned him the Paul Gilson Award in 1989. He also received the Freddy Stone Award in 1996 for his contribution to Canadian new music.
began to play guitar in high-school bands. He started to develop his own brand of jazz-meets-folk-meets-freak in the collective Conventum
. This group included guitarist André Duchesne
, with whom he stroke a lasting friendship. He recorded two albums with Conventum
and a handful of film scores, the first of what would become an endless list (over 50 by 2001). After the group's disbanding, Lussier
enrolled in the Grand Orchestre de Montréal, an experimental fanfare of sorts where he met Nébu
saxophonist Jean Derome
. Together they recorded music for the National Film Board of Canada and got involved in many projects, some of which included Duchesne
and clarinetist Robert M. Lepage.
The four of them founded the collective and record label Ambiances Magnétiques
in 1983. That year, Lussier
released his first solo album, Fin du Travail (Version 1)
, the title of which ("Finished Work [1st Version]") already displayed his uncanny sense of humor. His big break came in 1986 when Michel Levasseur, artistic director of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV), proposed a duo concert with Fred Frith
. Henry Cow
and the whole Rock-in-Opposition movement had been a big influence on Lussier
; this was his chance. The resulting album, Nous Autre
, introduced him to an international audience. In 1988, Frith
invited him and Derome
to join Keep the Dog.
In 1989, with the help of Frith
and a cast of Ambiances Magnétiques
recorded Le Trésor de la Langue
. Pushed by its political resonances, the album became the label's biggest seller and the first classic item in the history of musique actuelle. Further albums, solo and with Les Granules
, established him as a highly creative and witty composer and improviser. But as years passed, Lussier
felt the collective weight more and more on his shoulders. The mid- to late '90s saw him experimenting with more abstract forms of improvisation with mixed results and severing links with old friends, including Derome
when he left his band Les Dangereux Zhoms. In 2001, Lussier
resolutely stepped away from the collective and released CDs on Ohm Editions and La Tribu. The album Tombola Rasa
and a country-folk project with American maverick Eugene Chadbourne
indicated a return to earlier pleasures at the start of the new decade.