Cedric Noel and Tate Lejeune are CNUS

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C-N-U-S, photo by Matt Carter

When Cedric Noel asked Tate Lejeune to be a part of a performance for a portion of the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival’s FUZE series in August, the match spoke volumes.  Both artists were already busy – Noel, with his countless solo projects and shows; Lejeune, immersed in two bands – Union Suit and Laps – along with his own solo stuff.  But what started as a one-day challenge is now CNUS – Cedric Noel and Union Suit, who just released their new album Empathy, Please.

The album is at times tender but laced with cathartic instrumentals.  Its melodic drone-like undertone traces back to the duo’s task at FUZE – incorporate pieces by famous classical composers into an original piece of their own.  Lejeune says the pair realized their potential at FUZE while marrying works of great lates like Edward Elgar into their sound.

“We each wrote a piece and then kind of reshaped it to have the other person act as the supporting role in the song,” says Lejeune. “We realized that maybe without telling each other, it would be a good idea to make similar material later on.” says Lejeune.

Side A of the album’s tape belongs to one of three songs, ‘Deduction.’ Elgar’s concerto threads through its backdrop and creates an eerily atmospheric effect. The track’s melodic drawl is something both artists brought to the table.

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Cedric Noel of CNUS playing with Sentimentals at Shifty Bits Circus In4rno, 2015 — Photo cred: Chris Giles

“Cedric and I have always shared a certain textural sensibility – we don’t think about music in the same way at all but we end up with a very similar output,” says Lejeune.

Along with Side B’s ‘Near, Bye’ and ‘Ten Hours,’ the album’s main theme deals with distance and its connection to empathy. Noel says the concept is built on events both him and Tate have dealt with in their time – friends migrate from the comfort of their hometown squad, family and decisions made, and being a good person.

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CNUS, photo by Matt Carter

“It’s about falling for someone – but then it’s sort of a conversation between a child and their parents. Trying to support someone who might not be making the right decision. It’s the tug and pull of that – and everything else,” says Noel.

Both artists have been building up their work with improvisation and pieces tend to come to fruition without intent. Lejeune says this was a big part of Empathy, Please.

“We made structures for the pieces but found ourselves just doing something really far off a lot of the time,” says Lejeune.

Noel agrees – as he puts it, he and Lejeune are “masters of the unmastering. Haphazard is a pretty good word to describe the process,” he says.

Empathy Please is the duo’s only piece out now but with a handful of November shows now under their belt and a possible show or two in February, CNUS hopes to bring more to the table. For Noel and Lejeune, that should come without their even trying.

You can hear CNUS’s full release, Empathy Please here on their bandcamp, or check out the respective Cedric Noel and Union Suit pages.

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