Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Chris Marker, La Jetée & Panda Bear

Sad to hear of the death of French film maker Chris Marker at the age of 91.

I knew his work principally through the film La Jetée, which for a short film (it runs under 30 minutes) packs a startling amount of ideas into its plot.

Made in 1962, and filmed in black and white and almost entirely with still images, it was - appropriately enough for a film about time travel - decades ahead of its time, inspiring the 1995 film 12 Monkeys, which lifted much of the plot for La Jetée.

I actually came across le Jettée as a consequence of seeing 12 Monkeys and being so impressed by it. 12 Monkeys was essentially a remake, with a budget of just under £30m and Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt starring in it. While a striking film itself, it lacked the poetic and haunting qualities of the original.

The original reminded me a lot of Alphaville, a film I was more familiar with, in its low budget but high ideas approach.

The film, in the subsequent 50 years since it came out has inspired other film makers and writers, The Terminator could be seen to be one of the other films that based itself on the premises of La Jetée.

Musically there have been many who used the visual style of the film in their videos, but I thought a link to an actual song tht was influenced by the film was appropriate.

The Panda Bear track comes from the 2011 Tomboy album. Panda Bear is the name used by Animal Collective's Noah Lennox for his solo projects .

Friday, 27 July 2012

France: Le Candidat

A song and a video lesson in European political history from the ambitiously-named electro act France.

The band, Henning Specht, François Remigi and Pierre Gastou had the idea for a French themed band, singing in French, and the name for the project quickly followed.

The band says: "France is a unique mixture of pulsating Italo Disco, revisited French Touch and synth-driven Chanson, where romanticism and dry wit collide."

There's a cool retro feel to their work, and more than a touch of the Kraftwerk to their soundscape. While a melodic and apparently simple piece, there's a melancholy and ambiguity that underscores their apparent modernism.

Somehow the archive images work well in the video, you feel they should be more familiar with the faces and events than you actually are.

There's a distance and a strangeness to it. You feel the vintage images should elicit a feeling of nostalgia, but you are excluded from it by not being French.

Of course, that response is essentially that of a non-French native of the UK, where we are more familiar with images of previous American presidents than we are with those of our neighbours.

Meanwhile, the use of stills conjures images of videos that actually were from the 80s, when production was at a minimum and any budget was an afterthought. In this case it works, and like the best videos, it's a simple idea that has been done well.

I'd also whoheartedly recommend the second track of their EP, Patrouille de France, a great piece of atmospheric rhythmic electro. All we need for that is a video of some vintage French air force jets and it will be perfect.

The band's debut release, the four-track Grand Tour EP was released in January last year.

Their tracks are available to download from their website here >

Madonna: Je t'aime moi non plus

Well, Madonna's surprise show in Paris at the Olympia didn't seem to go down as well as she might have hoped.

It was a scaled down version of her stadium show, as would be expected from a smaller venue, but I dont think the 45 minutes that ensued pleased the 2,700 fans in the historic venue.

Video on YouTube shows the boos and whistles, and cries of "Remboursez, remboursez, remboursez!" and "Salope!" at the end of the show. Plastic bottles can be seen landing on the stage after being thrown.

During the show she spoke about her affinity for France, saying "It could go all the way back to Napoleon, because I think of myself as a revolutionary."

She spoke during her monologue about the row that saw her being sued by Front National leader Marine Le Pen for screening an image of her with a swastika superimposed on her face during Madonna's Paris show

"I know that I have made a certin Marine Le Pen very angry with me.

"It's not my intention to make enemies, it is my intention to promote tolerance."

She added: "If we don't learn from history we are bound to repeat it."

Le Monde focused on her response to Le Pen

Liberation criticised her show, commenting that she came on 45 minutes late, played for 45 minutes and left without a goodbye or a thank you.

Meanwhile, Les Inrocks uses the word "pathétique" to describe her version of Gainsbourg's "Je t’aime, Moi Non Plus" that she performed at the end of her set.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Madonna at the Olympia in Paris

A special performance of Madonna at the Olympia in Paris is being streamed on YouTube tonight (July 26)

The stream is being presented at LoveLiveTV on YouTube and will be made available for viewing after the show.

The website explains: "LoveLive TV will be hosting the live stream of an EXCLUSIVE Madonna show, performed in the intimate club surroundings of the Olympia in Paris.

"Experience Madonna performing live as you've never seen her before: up-close and personal, exclusively on YouTube.

"She will be playing to a global audience on the LoveLiveTV YouTube channel on July 26 2012 at 22:15 (Paris), 21:15 (London), 16:15 (New York)."

It will, I expect be a more low key show than the one she presented at the Stade De France and to other stadiums around Europe on her MDNA tour.

Interesting that she's chosen to put on the a special show at the Olympia.

Madonna's website notes: "The Olympia, founded in 1888 has been the site of legendary shows by performers such as Marlene Dietrich, Charles Aznavour and Jacques Brel."

It's hard to imagine a more historic venue and given the French connection with her most recent album, it's certainly appropriate that she puts on a special show in France.

Black Strobe: Boogie in Zero Gravity

A new video from Arnaud Rebotini's Black Strobe for the track Boogie in Zero Gravity from the album of the same name.

It's one very cool track with a great groove. It's probably a bit like what Nick Cave would sound like if he was into dance music.

For a dance act, many of their influences come from outside the usual sphere, Rebotini having at one time played in an extreme metal act. The Crass-influenced graphics on this release certainly seem to indicate an immersion in an eclectic playlist.

Locating themselves in the interzone between dance and the more extreme end of the rock spectrum, they make a sound that's been grown from a strange but fertile soil.

Black Strobe's debut Burn Your Own Church was release in 2007, and they have remixed the likes of Röyksopp, David Guetta, Depeche Mode, Bloc Party and Nitzer Ebb and Rammstein, along with many others, over the years.

Rebotni's most recent solo album Someone Gave Me Religion was released in May last year.

The Boogie in Zero Gravity album was released in France earlier in July

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Jon Lord: Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water

With the blog essentially on autopilot for a couple of weeks while on holiday, I'm behind eveyone else in posting about the death of Jon Lord. As keyboard player with both Deep Purple and Whitesnake, he was one of the biggest figures in the generation that established rock music as a serious and enduring art form.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon in 2011 when he was in Scotland for a lecture he was giving to students, and he was a wonderful interviewee, intelligent and patient 

As a fan whose first Deep Purple album was Shades of Deep Purple, bought on vinyl while on holiday in Royan, I've been listening to deep Purple for decades. That first album of course featured a very different Deep Purple to the one that most people recognise, more 60s pop, no Ian Gillan on vocals and a more organ-dominated sound (despite a guitar featuring prominently on the cover of the 80s re-issue I bought!)

While at first inspection there might only the most tenuous connections with France or French music, it's worth remembering that their most famous song being the result of a fire in a Swiss casino, Montreaux being in the French speaking part of the country. That's certainly good enough for inclusion here. 

Of course, their earliest hit Hush was also covered in French (under the title Mal) by Johnny Halliday.

Smoke on the Water, from the band's 1972 Machine Head album, tells the story of the band's visit to Montreaux in 1971 to record an album on a mobile studio hired from the Rolling Stones at the Montreaux Casino.

However, the night before the recording was due to begin, the casino was hit by a fire. During a concert by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on December 4, a flare gun was fired during the track King Kong, igniting the roof of the building. 

A recording of the Zappa concert was released in the Beat The Boots II collection, under the title Swiss Cheese/Fire! 

The fire completely destroyed the casino, the members of Deep Purple watching the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the hotel they were staying in.

With the venue for the recording destroyed, the band subsequently set up in the Montreux Grand Hotel, converting areas into a temporary recording studio where the mobile studio could operate. They completed the recording of the Machine Head album there, and it went on to become probably their most famous piece of work.

The album was almost entrely recorded at the hotel, some guitar parts for Smoke on the Water being recorded earlier at a local theatre before noise problems forced them to finally relocate to the hotel. 

The song lyrics refer to Funky Claude, who was Claude Nobs - founder and director of the Montreux Jazz Festival - who rescued some of the audience members from the fire. The song includes a solo by guitarist Richie Blackmore, as well as a solo by Lord.

The song became the band's best-known track, and certainly the most widely known guitar riff ever, beloved of pretty much anyone who has tried at some point to learn electric guitar.

A monument in Montreux on Lake Geneva commemorates the song.

With several decades of live activity, it wasn't the band's only encounter with French culture and music. The Mark III line up of the band played their final show at the Palais des Sports in Paris in 1975. The show and two others in Graz and Saarbrücken were recorded, as the management thought it possible the band would split and wanted some product if that happened. However, despite Blackmore quitting, the band continued with Tommy Bolin on guitar and the album was cancelled.

But following their final split, the Made in Europe live album was released, claiming to document the Paris gig and the other two shows, although the majority of the recording on this collection in fact comes from the German gig. 

Most of the Paris tracks surfaced on the 1996 archive collection MK III: The Final Concerts, the Paris gig eventually appearing in its entireity as a double CD entitled Live in Paris 1975 in 2001.

Other French-related releases include the Live at the Olympia '96 album which came out in '97, recorded on the Purpendicular tour and featuring the reformed line up of the band with Steve Morse on guitar. It featured a number of the band's classic tracks (Smoke on the Water, Highway Star, Fireball, Maybe I'm a Leo, Black Night, Woman from Tokyo) and other more recent post-reformation tracks like Rosa's Cantina, Perfect Strangers and Cascades: I'm Not Your Lover.

Meanwhile, the band's performances at the Montreux festivals in 1969, 1996 and 2006 and 2011 have all been released over the years, the last two not featuring Lord who had retired by this point to be replaced by former Rainbow keyboard player Don Airey.

Jon Lord had a long and successful career, a bona fide rock star and a classical composer of no small talent. Its also worth remembering that even in the years immediately after Deep Purple and before they reforemed, he was a key member of Whitesnake, at the time one of the UK's leading rock acts.

In an interview Jon Lord said his work with Whitesnake involved him "putting a halo around the band." Long may his halo shine.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Bob Dylan at Vieilles Charrues

This weekend saw the Vieilles Charrues festival taking place in Brittany, one of France's premier music festivals.

The event was headlined by The Cure on Friday night, Sting on Saturday and Bob Dylan on Sunday. Also on the bill were Portishead, LMFAO, Gossip, garbage, Kasabian and Santigold, and there was also a huge number of some of the best current French acts, including Justice, M83, Martin Solveig, Zebda, Amadou &; Mariam, Thomas Dutronc, and many, many others.

In short, it's a big deal. but reviews of Bob Dylan's set were what could politely be called 'mixed.'

I've seen Dylan quite a few times, even in France, and yes he has disappointed at times, but also has staged one of the finest shows I've ever seen.

Despite being a huge fan, I've passed on buying tickets for shows in the past on account of uncertainty over whether or not he'll be any good.

 Professional photographers were also banned from taking pics of Dylan, which certainly upset many of the media, although I seem to remember that this is something that Dylan always does. I've even seen security staff at his concerts on the lookout for members of the audience taking pictures.

Also, there were complaints about the set, that didn't play all the hits and performed some of his less well known more recent numbers. And there was no encore, no audience interaction.

 But I have some sympathy for Dylan. He's been performing for decades, and I reckon these days - and for the last decade or two - he's been playing for his own enjoyment as much as for the audience's.

He doesn't play the media game because he's in a pretty unique position because he doesn't have to if he doesn't want to. He's under no pressure to sell records or tickets, after all.

He could have put his feet up decades ago.

The media don't like an artist that doesn't do what they want, and to a certain extent the same applies to an audience. He doesn't play the same set night after night because he's still a living artist rather than a museum piece, and besides, he'll never please everyone with a back catalogue as large as his.

 As a performer he still takes risks, and while this doesn't always pay off, when it does the rewards are great indeed.

 Next year's festival will be held on July 18 - 21, and the organisers say that securing an appearance by Radiohead is one of their priorities. Hopefully they'll leave the audience a bit happier.

Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains: The Away Game 2012

The UK's favourite French indie act have been playing one of the more unusual festival dates of the year, on the remote island of Eigg in the inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.

The festival was organised by the Fence Records, who usually hold their Home Game festival in Anstruther in Fife, and featured Fence Collective acts and others on the bill.

King Creosote and The Pictish Trail hosted the event and Gruff Rhys, Django Django and a whole hpst of others played the three day event that ran from Friday to Sunday.

The island has a population of just 70 people, and tickets for the event included camping and a ferry over to the island and tickets for the event sold out months in advance.

The video shows the highlights of the 2012 Away Game festival, also ono Eigg, but gives a flavour of what was for those lucky enough to attend got at the weekend.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012: Institut français d'Ecosse

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest arts events in the world, so I thought I'd not only give it a mention despite much of it falling outside both the scope of music and French culture.

Fortunately France is well represented at the event, and the Institut Francais d'Ecosse is at the heart of it.

It is presenting a programme of shows, varying from children's performances to staging of music and dance spectacles, theaetre and cabaret.

It's a programme with plenty ov variety, and of particular interest to this blog is the show Jacques Brel: in song and dance, running from August 3 - 11, featuring vocalist Christine Bovill and Heels Over Head Dance Theatre (Scotland).

They describe the show as "fresh, modern, exciting and unique interpretation of Brel’s work through multimedia, music and dance.
Raw and intense, poetic and captivating. Mostly playful, like his songs. Let yourself be transported into the Belgian chansonnier’s world and experience for yourself why he has remained such a vibrant musical icon."

Also of note is the show Rock, a show by Atelier du Plateau from France. The show features actor Pierre Baux and cellist Vincent Courtois exploring the rock scene of 70s New York through dialogues, memoires and oral history, based on the book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

The book deals with the birth and development of the punk movement in New York, with figues like The Stooges, Velvet Undergound, Patti Smith and Lou Reed looming over a fertile and hugely influential time in art and music. It runs from August 3 - 18.

Other shows on include It’s so nice by Compagnie Oh my God! (Wallonia) August 3 - 24, Elephant man by Compagnie du Fomenteur (France) August 3 - 24 , Lapin wants Ice Cream by Compagnie Le Petit Monde (France) August 3 - 17, Ma biche et mon lapin by Collectif Aïe Aïe Aïe (France) August 3 - 24, Morceaux de choix by Justine Curatolo and Elisa Bellanger (France) August 3 - 24 and Adventures of the Little Prince by Asylon Theatre in association with  Heels Over Head Dance Theatre (Scotland) August 13 - 27.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Live: Charlotte Gainsbourg at Somerset House

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a rare UK show on July 19, at Somerset House in London.

She's been touring in mainland Europe and the show looks set to be the only chance to see her in the UK this year

Somerset House is an arts and cultural centre in the heart of London, with fountains in its courtyard over the summer while the space is used as an outdoor skating rink over the winter.

The open air show is one of a series of concerts at the venue, which also sees M83 and Tindersticks playing along with acts including Paloma Faith, The Enemy, Katy B and Jill scott.

She'll be joined by London-based New Zealander Connan Mockasin.

A new album by Ms Gainsbourg is expected to be released later this year following last year's Stage Whispers 2CD collection of live and unreleased material.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tal: Je Prends le large

A new music video by Tal, for the song Je prends le large.

The track comes from her album Le droit de rêver which has been out in France since May.

For a French language track it's the kind of track that is not a million miles away from American teenage pop, with its R'n'B and light hip hop stylings.

The American beach style video certainly seems to back this impression.

While I'm sure there are those that would criticise a French artist for adopting an American style, she's not exactly the first to have done this, and there's really no reason why a contemporary French artists shouldn't adopt contemporary styles.

It's an easy listen, and will play well on radios over the summer.

Her previous song hit the top five in France, and this one looks like its cut from the same material, so I'd be very surprised if it didn't see the same level of success.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Laibach: Francia

For France's national day, please be upstanding for a rendition of the national anthem.

The version, obviously a little different from the original, comes from the 2004 Laibach album Volk, which included their interpretations 13 countries, as well as one for their NSK multinational state.

Their version of La Marseillaise relocates its struggle and conflict to the banlieus, an urban and modern version of the marching song
But what exactly are they dong in this version of the song? Is it pro-French or anti? Right wing or left wing? Laibach, and the arts organisation they are part of (NSK) have always kept their agenda deliberately unclear, to the point that encouraging an interrogation of their political agenda - and by extension the political agenda of art in general - is probably their actual agenda.

Laibach are a band that thrives on ambiguity. Originating in the then-communist Yugoslavia, they fell foul of the state by putting forward (and winning) a national art competition by submitting a piece of work that was a slightly altered piece of Nazi propaganda.

Their criticism of the Yugoslav state gave them a pariah status in their home country, but their apparent identification with - and seeming celebration of - communism led to criticism in the west.

Over the subsequent years they have remained critics of totalitarianism,  while adopting its aesthetics. Following the collapse of state socialism in eastern Europe, they have sought out other less explicit systems of social control for investigation.

Their album of covers of apparently innocuous pop songs rendered into totalitarian anthems (NATO) mocked the illusionary freedoms promised by a pop culture tied to a multinational industry. Other targets have been capitalism as itself an instrument of repression (Kapital) and their offshoot band 300,000 VK releasing collections focused on the Pope (Also Sprach John Paul II) and Bill Gates (Bill Gates Hard Drive.)

Along the way there have been covers of the Beatles Let it Be album and an album of collected cover versions of The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil.

Meanwhile they put forward a visual style that took elements of the artwork of repression, socialist realism, 1930s European romanticism, Soviet experimentalism and totalitarianism.
While there is no shortage of bonehead bands peddling a redundant right-wing agenda, Laibach have always been more than just Triumph of the Will fetishists. Rather than just celebrating the unacceptable agenda of repression, by adopting the mannerisms of the most obvious forms of social control and applying these mechanisms to the more subtle means with which they are employed today, they expose the fact that while the uniforms and heavy handed politics of fear might not be in place any more, ideas like freedom and democracy remains at best aspirations. 

Of course, concepts like 'Freedom' and 'Democracy' and whether they have themselves any value are questions that are also raised.
All the time they've been producing an increasingly sophisticated industrial rock, in many ways like Rammstein but with a degree in fine art and philosophy. Most recently their work was used in the soundtrack of the Finnish comedy film Iron Sky.  For all their austere appearance, they know fine well that there's comedy value in their shtick.

The Volk album includes this track Francia, along with variants of the German anthem, Russian, English Turkish, Chinese and others, as well as the anthem of Israel. The versions include subversive touches like mixing the Israeli anthem with the Palestinian, the Russian anthem with lyrics from the Internationale, the use of the old Yugoslavian anthem for the anthem of 'Slovania.'

Do Laibach celebrate nationalism and the existence of the nation state? Do they criticise those who follow their countries like the sheep on the cover of the CD?

Are we to salute the flag? Burn it? Appreciate it as a work of abstract Suprematist art?

Probably all these things at once. The only certainty is that they will provoke more questions.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Live: Sébastien Tellier at Traction festival

There's a rare UK live appearance by Sébastien Tellier
this weekend, when he plays in London in one of the many events that are taking place around the country as part of the London 2012 Olympics.

 He plays the Traction Festival, an event in collaboration with Eurostar, that sees European acts take to the stage in the heart of London.

 The festival is being curated by DJ Gilles Peterson and according to the festival's website: "Curator Gilles Peterson has drawn inspiration from across the continent, choosing performers from every background for a series of unique cross-cultural collaborations."

 The event is being held at Granary Square, a new public space in the King's Cross area of London.

 The line up, as well as headliner Sébastien Tellier, includes Germany's Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble, Ghostpoet, Congolese born belgian hip hop act Baloji & l'Orchestre de la Katuba, Benny Sings from the Netherlands.

 Tellier is at the top of his game at the moment following the release of the My God is Blue, one of the strongest release so far this year, and a live performance will be quite a spectacle.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

Madonna takes to the stage at the Stade de France at the weekend, facing the possibility of offending Front National leader Marine Le Pen.

The show comes after a spokesperson for the FN told 20 Minutes newspaper that Marine Le Pen is considering legal action if Madonna if uses a video of that features Le Pen with a swastika on her face during the show.

While performing the song Nobody Knows Me, a video showed images accompanying the song, including the controversial image of Le Pen. It's a brief image, which quickly changes to one that looks like a portrait of Hitler. Viewers are left to draw their own conclusion with regard a link between Le Pen, Nazis and Hitler.

Not exactly subtle, but it will be interesting to see whether Madonna uses the footage or is intimidated by legal threats from the Front National.

It's not been the successful comeback she'd have hoped for, despite the involvement of Solveig with her music, and a feeling that for all the scandal and controversy she's engineered through her career, most of the controversy this time is old fashioned  bad publicity.

Her tour has so far been dogged by controversy, the Marine Le pen issue likely to cause some waves in France, but reactions to her costume choice were not entirely what she would have wanted, and the reaction to her showing some flesh also put her in the spotlight for reasons she'd probably avoid.

Her single Give Me All Your Luvin' didn't sell in the quantities that might have been expected given its performance at the superbowl and the associated hype, the second single Girl Gone Wild did not fare much better. Still, number one and top ten across a huge number ouf countries probably isn't that bad. I doubt she's all that worried at the end of the day.

Meanwhile, Madonna has confirmed that her next single is to be Turn Up the Radio, another track that was co-produced by DJ Martin Solveig.

Madonna also plays in Nice on August 21

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rétro: Alan Stivell in Cork, Ireland 1978

I've been listening a lot to Alan Stivell in the past few weeks, and much as I enjoy his later work, I think much of his acoustic work has aged better. This clip from 78 is an absolute gem.

The Foggy Dew, the Irish song performed here, was one friends and I were familiar with from Stivell's back catalogue. It wasn't until recent years that I discovered that it was regarded as a 'rebel song'. We were always more into music than politics.

The song refers to the Easter Rising in Ireland against British rule, and encourages Irishmen to fight for a free Ireland rather than fight for the Bristish in World War One.

I also came across a reference to Stivell recently in Carol Clerk's epic Hawkwind biography the Saga of Hawkwind, with a brief mention of him playing at the Stonehenge free festival in the 80s, where he was joined by Hawkwind's Nik Turner.

Many versions of the song have been recorded over the years, by vocalists including Sinead O'Connor, who performed it with traditional Irish musicians like The Chieftans, and there have been other versions by the likes of The Dubliners.

The Foggy Dew was recorded by Stivell on his breakthrough Olympia 72 album, and a later version featuring Shane McGowan on his 1993 album Again.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

(we are) Fools: Youth 101.

A great piece of French electro rock by (we are) Fools, the track Youth 101.

The six-piece act makes a sophisticated music that they describe as an electric meeting  etween pop melody, melancholic writing and all genres of electronic music.

Rather than just a studio project, the band performs live regularly in Paris, and have played several gigs so far this year.

They released their debut album in December last year, and if you like the clip, their album is available to download free here >

Monday, 9 July 2012

Magma: Félicité Thösz

When I heard that there was a new Magma album - Félicité Thösz - coming out I was hugely excited, and a little surprised.

I'm a huge fan of Christain Vander's band, and have been for years. Their music is a unique take on progressive rock, with elements of classical music, soul and jazz at the forefront. They're not an easy band to sum up in a trite phrase, and while their massively complex multi-album concepts and the apparent complexity of their music may seem daunting, the simple matter remains that they make fabulous music that few other acts can match.

Their work is awesome  - in the most correct definition of the word - as well as beautiful.

I was surprised to hear of the new album because the last, Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê , brough their Köhntarkösz trilogy to a conclusion. This trilogy was begun with the Köhntarkösz album in '74, which although the part of the work to be releases, was actually its second part. The K.A. album , which was released in 2004 formed the first part of the work, Ëmëhntëhtt-Rê from 2009 bringing it to a close. Both later parts featured work that was part written and performed in the 1970s.

Their discography is a complicated one. Their other trilogy, Theusz Hamtaahk, includes Vander's solo album Ẁurdah Ïtah (a film soundtrack for a film adaptation of Tristan et Iseult, now considered retrospectively part of the Magma canon) and Theusz Hamtaahk, initially available only on the  Retrospektiw (Parts I+II) live albums.

Where the new material fits in with their work, I'm not sure as yet. I know Félicité Thösz has been played live in the past, but it probably has a part in a larger picture as well.  Magma is the kind of band that inspires fanaticism and detailed study.

Despite the band's vintage, their resent albums have been as strong as any of their work from the 1970s, and if anything they've benfitted from modern production and recording techniques.

I would urge anyone curious about Magma to pick up the Studio Zünd box set from 2008 that collects their studio work to that point. In the meantime, I look forward to thouroughly listening to Félicité Thösz, and hoping that at some point they follow up their massive studio box set with an equally impressive live box set.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Festivals: David Guetta at T in the Park

A look ahead to this weekend's T in the Park festival, which sees David Guetta take to the stage at Scotland's biggest music festival.

Guetta plays on the Saturday night, and while not headlining - that's left The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, he's still pretty high on the bill.

Significantly, two of his collaborators are also on the bill, Jessie J who sang the song LaserLight, featured on the special edition of her debut album Who You Are, giving her a top five hit in the UK.

The song came about after Jessie J sang on the Guetta track Repeat, included on his 2011-released Nothing but the Beat album.

Meanwhile, Scottish singer Emile Sandé is also on the bill at T in the Park on Saturday, and she too has appeared with Guetta, performing Titanium with him at the NRJ Music Awards in February this year.

The song featured Sia on the album, but the opportunity for Guetta to perform with one of Scotland's biggest stars in front of a home crowd would seem an opportunity that would be hard for him to resist.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Justice: New Lands teaser

A teaser for the new video by Justice, for the track New lands

The video's quite different from their previous videos from the 2011 Audio, Video, Disco album.

New Lands is the fourth single from the album, which regular readers will remember was this blog's album of the year from last year.

The video seems to take a futuristic sport setting, taking some of the style of vintage dystopian sci-fi movies like Rollerball, Escape from New York - check the Snake Plissken eye patch-  and Running Man.

It looks like it will be a memorable representaton of the track, and I'm sure it will find its way into TV sports montages on the back of the images being used here. Looking forward to checking out the complete video when it drops.

Meanwhile, there are remixes of the track by falcon, A-Trak and SebastiAn along with a live version of the track available.

The full version of the video surfaces on July 11.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Bill Clinton playe M83 mash-up

Not usually a fan of mash ups, but occasionally they do work quite well. Here's one, that I reckon works quite well on account of its simplicity.

M83's Midnight City has a sax solo. M83 are big in the USA. The former president Bill Clinton plays sax.

So it's as simple as that, but it brought a smile to my face.

Maybe a reflection on how big M83 are in America, maybe a nod to the inherently cheesy nature of the sax solo. Whatever.

Can we have Obama dropping some beats with Sexion d'Assaut next?

Sébastien Tellier: Russian attractions

A new video by the mighty Sébastien Tellier, the track Russian Attractions from his recent My God is Blue album.

Tellier is touring at the moment, with date in France and mainland Europe as well as a show in the UK later this month.

My God is Blue was released in April, and it's already one of the most interesting releases of the year so far.

Tellier is an interesting figure, and there's fewer of them around these days. There are not many musical artists who are prepared to pursue an artistic vision regardless of the risk of alienating critics or audiences. In many ways he reminds me of the likes of Morrissey or Jarvis Cocker.

Too many musicians are too concerned with having careers these days, with the consequence that they endlessly recycle whatever successful formula they stumbled on. Few are prepared to genuinely take a chance. Tellier is unafraid to take that risk.

Tellier's taken his work into a strange new area, and while its easy to pick on his apparent messianic presona, he's taken his music in an interesting direction and pursued an artistic vision that is uniquely his own.

He's also been on facebook in the weeks since issuing "Blue messages" like "Gently force reality to resemble your dream." and "Isn't it more interesting to not understand rather than understand?".

Certainly a cut above the usual pop star Facebook posts.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Editorial: july 2012

Another month passes at chateau Vive le Roq, and a busy one again despite there not being so many posts over the past few weeks.

 While summer's usually a time for things to slacken off, there's again been a record number of visitors to the site.

 June surpassed May as the busiest ever month in terms of visitors. Always good to see the graph moving upwards

July makes for a particularly interesting month organisationally, as for the next couple of weeks I'll be off the radar on holiday. However, there will still be regular updates on the site while I'm away.

 I took some time at the end of last month to write some articles in advance so that they will appear on the site in my absence, although this did have the unexpected consequence that I didn't manage to get so many articles on the site last month.

You win some, you lose some I suppose.

 Last June was the month with the highest number of articles on the site ever- 27 articles, more that I managed in the whole of 2010 - this June less so. I already know that there's a pile of articles in the pipeline for July.

So who knows ? We may finally break that record as well next month!