Thursday, 5 December 2013

Les Rencontres Trans Musicales festival

The Rencontres Trans Musicales de Rennes festival gets under way in full today, with the Breton city hostinga wide and varied selection of bands, DJs, and acts of all descriptions taking to stages in the city.

It's the 35th time the event has been held, attracting some of France's best new acts as well as others from around the world keen to showcase their acts to critics and potential fans.

A brief look back at the history of the event shows that some names that went on to become among the most significant in the music scene have played, Cabaret Voltaire, Sugarcubes, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Portishead, Massive Attack, Daft Punk,  Röyksopp and MIA have played at the event, Meanwhile, some of the best French acts have graced the stages, with names like IAM, Zebda, Noir Désir, Mano Negra, Etienne Daho and Cassius playing.

Needless to say, Daft Punk played there in 1996, well before they became global event they have been this year.

The act that has probably attracted the most attention is Belgian rapper Stromae, playing on the Friday night. His long-awaited second album Racine Carée has been one of the most significant releases in France this year, more so even than Daft Punk, and while he's best known in the anglophone world for Alors on Danse, his album's given him some of his biggest successes yet in France.

One act I'm looking forward to is Moodoïd, who I've featured previously on this blog. Their videos are a colourful psychedelic spectacle, but as a live act Moodoïd look like they will be every bit as much of a strange and captivating sight.

There are of course, for a major international event, bands from outside the French speaking world.

One of my personal favourites here has to be Public Service Broadcasting, a UK act who take government information films and re-contextualise them in a way that makes the hair on the back of yoru neck stand up.

London Grammar have been for many the band of the year in 2013, and their most recent release is a cover of the Kavinsky track Nightcall, a French track that got a huge amount of attention when it featured in the soundtrack of the film Drive.

Of course, not every international band is a household name. Acts are on the bill more on account of their artistic reputation than their commercial success. Of course, that commercial success should hopefully follow before too long.

There are a huge number of quality French bands. Dead,a  three piece from Rennes, restore some of the strangeness and menace to electronic music.

Le Vasco deal with an equally unsettling electronic sound, a reminder that modern electronic music can still be experimental and artists working with it have ambitions beyond playing safe stadium house.

Another act with an interesting sound are Rouge Méchanique, who released their debut single in June this year, the first release on Pyramids of Mars records. Electronic music from a musician whose background includes studying classical piano and playing in rock bands in France and Italy.

I'll update the blog with brief reports throughout the weekend, there's almost so much going on that it will be impossible to cover everything, especially with even more bands playing in the pubs around the city as well.

Meanwhile, the TGV from Paris to Rennes on the afternoon will feature a DJ set from Surfing Leons, Trans Musicales Express indeed.

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