Tuesday, 2 March 2021
Monday, 1 March 2021
A quick plug for an event taking place tomorrow that's been organised by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni in London to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Serge Gainsbourg.
Author Jeremy Allen, whose biography of Gainsbourg Relax Baby Be Cool: The Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg has just been published, is in conversation with French music expert David McKenna.
Gainsbourg is without a doubt a towering figure in French music and culture in general, his work extending to film, literature and television. While his notoriety has at times surpassed his artistic endeavours, even thirty years after his passing he remains a significant influence and a cross-genre innovator.
I'm reading Allen's book at the moment, and it's probably the definitive book in English about Gainsbourg. I'll have more to say about it when I've finished it, needless to say, it's both incredibly informative and very entertaining.
Tomorrow night (Tuesday March 2, 7pm) you can hear more about the man, the musician and the myth. Get full details at the Institut français website.
Monday, 22 February 2021
So this is how it ends for Daft Punk. Not with a whimper but a bang.
I can't think of an act in recent years - if ever - who have raised the profile of French music to such an international level.
Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter's legacy is incomparable, a swathe of awards, an iconic international hit, and a visual identity that would make Kraftwerk jealous just being some of the high points in a career that covered four albums, a soundtrack and some absolutely classic records.
But 2013's Random Access Memories looks like their last full album. Work since then has included co-producing Kanye West's Yeezus, an unreleased track featuring Jay-Z, performing on Pharrell's G.I.R.L. album and The Weeknd's Starboy and I Feel It Coming hits.
While these were probably the kind of side projects that would be the high point of many artists' careers, it has been a relatively quiet period. No tours, no further soundtracks despite occasional rumours.
Footage from their 2006 Electroma film makes it clear they've reached the end of the road. Thomas Bangalter goes out with a bang. A slow-motion desert explosion that's as cinematic as anything in Zabriskie Point.
Their work as individual producers will no doubt continue, but we'll miss France's favourite metallic headed house robots.
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Thursday, 21 January 2021
Ready for the new world?
We've been waiting for something new from Feu! Chatterton for a while. It's not that they've been away for long, just we've been impatient.
With good reason. Their two albums, 2015's Ici le jour (a tout enseveli) and 2018's L'Oiseleur are among our faviourites in recent years, each a heady mix. Rooted in French poetic lyricism, but inhabiting a jazz-informed indie rock landscape that few others dare venture into without falling face first into the swamp of pretentiousness or tumbling into the chasm of joyless self-indulgence.
Yes, it's a bit arty, but they walks that fine line with a swagger and don't take themselves too seriously. It's hard to imagine a band like this from any other country.
If anything makes us hopefuly for 2021, its that fine bands like this have started to re-emerge from isolation and hibernation. The world might be new, different and unfamiliar, but it's been waiting for them to make it a little bit better.
Thursday, 14 January 2021
Wednesday, 13 January 2021
A cracking cover of Christophe's classic Les mots bleus by Matthieu Chedid, performed at home during lockdown.
The song, the title track of Christophe's 1974 album and top ten single, was co-written by Jean-Michel Jarre who was then a musical collaborator with Chrstophe. He'd already worked as lyricist for Christophe's 1973 album Les Paradis perdus. For an artist now best known for producing instrumental electronic work, it's quite an achievement to have been involved in creating two songs regarded as French language classics,
M's cover follows other artists such as Alain Bashung.
It's a lovely version, performed during a live stream in April last year and it appears as one of the 35 tracks on his Le Grand P'tit Concert -M-aison streaming album that features cover versions and stripped-down arrangements of his own work. It's a great collection and well worth a download.