VARIOUS - SO YOUNG BUT SO COLD: UNDERGROUND FRENCH MUSIC 1977-1983
Leftfield, Electro, Synth-pop, Minimal Wave
Compiled By - Volga Select
01 Nini Raviolette - Suis-Je Normale (4:03)
02 J.J. Burnel - Euroman (3:29)
03 Ruth - Roman Photo (5:02)
04 Mathématiques Modernes - Disco Rough (I. Smagghe Edit) (3:59) Mixed By - Ivan Smagghe 05 Metal Boys - Carnival (1:45)
06 (Hypothetical) Prophets, The - Person To Person (6:08)
07 (Hypothetical) Prophets, The - Wallenberg (6:18)
08 Kas Product - So Young But So Cold (3:00)
09 Charles De Goal - Synchro (4:00)
10 Artefact - Mae (3:18)
11 Moderne - Switch On Bach (3:08)
12 Jacno - Triangle (3:29)
13 Tim Blake - Lighthouse (6:46)
14 Droids - The Force (Part 1) (3:26)
15 Bernard Szajner - Welcome (To Deathrow) (6:13)
16 Richard Pinhas - Iceland (9:38)
Link to download:
"This collection, highlighting obscure underground post-punk and new wave from France was released on Tigersushi Recordings, the record-label arm of the Tigersushi website, devoted to cataloging and tracing obscure connections between underground, post-punk, dance and avant-garde music. Previous compilations from Tigersushi included K.I.M.'s superlative Miyage CD, as well as No More G.D.M., which together contained more leftfield classics and unjustly obscure artists than anyone could shake a stick at. So Young But So Cold, compiled by Volga Select, is a bit less generous with its treasures. Perhaps the chosen time period and geographical area narrow the field too much, forcing Ivan Smagghe and Marc Collin to include many tracks that have a hard time living up to "lost classic" status. However, the disc still includes its share of tasty nuggets, chief among them a pair of stunning tracks by a group called The (Hypothetical) Prophets. Like most people, I'd never heard of this early-80's French new-wave group until this compilation. Their single "Person to Person" seems to have been influenced by The Human League, but takes off in its own idiosyncratic trajectory, lyrically and musically. Male and female singers describe their romantic fantasies in a monotone, proto-HipHop style: "I want a middle-aged, plump and cuddly, distinguished, hairy-chested, double-breasted, gray-templed, tall attractive, rich and active father figure." This against a minimal rhythm-box beat decorated with analog detritus and electronic drones, with occasional Beach Boys-esque expansions into vocal harmony. The Prophets' other appearance, "Wallenberg," is a dark synthscape intertwining mutated vocals narrating stories from World War II, with frequent blasts of saxophone, eerily evoking the later work of The Legendary Pink Dots. The first track on the compilation "Suis-Je Normale" ("I Am Normal") reminded me of Broadcast (or Broadcast's forerunner The United States of America), with its minimalist synths and Jane Birkin-esque vocal delivery. Mathematiques Moderne's "Disco Rough" has a raucous beat, but its chorus is unfortunately reminiscent of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's excruciating "Islands in the Stream." The Metal Boys were an offshoot of underappreciated electro-punks Metal Urbain, but their track "Carnivale" proves that the talent didn't come along for the ride. Charles de Goal's "Synchro" bears an unmistakable resemblance to The Vapors' hit "Turning Japanese." Was Moderne's "Switch On Bach" meant to be the French response to Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus"? It's hard to say, but at least this collection ends on a fairly strong note, with a row of Kraftwerkian space-rock and proto-techno tracks. Best among them is Nietzschean scholar Richard Pinhas' funereal, Tangerine Dream-influenced "Iceland," a densely atmospheric foray into the ice-cold nether regions of arctic tundra. A more inconsistent collection is not likely to be found, but Tigerushi's So Young But So Cold still has much to recommend." - Jonathan Dean
"Ministry and Peaches, Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim - I hear all these and more as seminal influences here in this very listenable CD, a snapshot of an apparently brilliant little epoch in early French synth-based pop. What matters here is not the era but the songs, invariably good (whether your taste) and strikingly original and, moreover, very good-sounding by any era's standards. The vocals are quite affecting, at moments ethereal, at times just so European and hot. There's real fire in some tracks - a drum machine and a moog synth pattern CAN really rock out and be downright sexy, coming from the right person's mind. That is the timeless triumph of the very good collected material on this disk."
"I came across this CD by surprise, but once I found out it was released only in France on the seminal TIGERSUSHI label, I knew it was gonna be good - and wasn't let down. A fascinating, eye-opening, jaw-dropping, and even highly-educational selection of the cream of the obscure, cult 70s/80s French electro/no-wave/synth-pop/punk movement - as compiled by BLACK STROBE's IVAN SMAGGHE - I know a lot of music, but many of these bands/singles I had never heard of, and they're all flawless in their own DIY way - if you like bands like The Normal, early Mute stuff, John Carpenter soundtracks, etc., this is for you"
About the artists (http://www.french-new-wave.com/compilation.php?annee=2004) :
Nini Raviolette’s unique EP came out on Celluloid in 1980. Her songwriter is none other than Alain Burosse the man behind landmark cyberpunk tv shows ‘Haute Tension’ & ‘l’oeil du cyclone’.
CHARLES DE GOAL
Charles De Goal is the Neue Franzosiche Welle… Very mysterious he was signed on New Rose after an initial experience as Coma’s bassist and produced a kind of synthetic New Wave, dancey and so early 80s.
Thierry Muller remains largely ignored whilst his deliveries under the Illitch and Ruth monikers have been quoted as massive influences by Nurse With Wound or the Legendary Pink Dots. Ruth covers his poppier angle with remnants of austerity and robotic groove.
J.J. BURNEL (from The Stranglers)
« In a time when rock n roll’s story was systematically made outside of France, Jean-Jacques Burnel was one rare motive for pride. Bass-player and occasional Stranglers singer - one of the pioneering UK punk outfit alongside the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Jam or The Damned – he was an hard boiled Normand and nearly French. The son of a couple of Caen bartenders who migrated to England in the fifties, J. J. was born in London. His French is anointed by a taint of English accent and some Anglicism appear here and there (see. La Folie) Being coined as a "froggy" had a great impact on his personality for sure. "When i was younger there was a real anti-French feeling in England. My mother used to kiss me goodbye in front of school and it was just another reason for the rest of the kids to pick on me. I have garnered a lot of aggressiveness and rage from those years that I then liberated in the music”...Dark draws on Dark, noted Burnel. “We (along side The Stranglers) went borderline too many a time. When we did the Meninblack sessions, we all decided to take heroin before entering the studio. Hugh and I then had a very tough time quitting » (Quotes from an interview featured in Le Monde 17.02.04). Now it’s clearer!
here’s barely no information on Mathématiques Modernes, but for the name of their illustrious producer: Jacno (it ain’t hard to tell). A cover design courtesy of the then debuting photographer duo ‘Pierre et Gilles’ .
Pioneering punk rock within Stinky Toys (a combo that was allegedly un-earthed by Malcom MacLaren). Jacno records with Elli Meideros, composes the anti-hit ‘Rectangle’, produces Etienne Daho’s debut LP, « Amoureux Solitaire » with Lio, worked for Daniel Darc, Pauline Lafont, Higelin etc. etc.
Métal Urbain was scandalously ignored within our frontiers. They were the first authentic punk band to jettison guitars and make extensive usage of synths, they were the first signing, RT001 on Rough Trade’s mythical imprint. Metal Boys is one of their ‘nom de plume’. A change that reflects a time when they faced a confused identity and recorded alongside the English performer, China.
Lead by Bernard Szajner and Karel Beer, these Prophets were probably the most daring - and most underrated - French band of the early 80s. Their mish-mash of proto-sampling, electronic sounds and weird instrumentations is still compelling today.
It’s easy to tell the reasons for Szajner’s widespread influence on electronica from first listen. Be it Aphex Twin or Carl Craig. Although his records and legacy were lost on many and often-time deemed as too avant-garde. Szajner started out as a mere sound engineer operating Klaus Schulze and Tim Blake’s lightshows and is the creator of the first ever laser harp - ripped off him by Jean Michel Jarre. In 1980, he records his first ever album Some Deaths Take Forever, a technoïd UFO that sounds as if it was made in Detroit in the nineties. Alongside Karel Beer, Szajner is also a pivotal member of the Hypothetical Prophets.
Artefact is a perfect example of cyberpunk. Completely out there lyrically wise, the climaxes of paranoia, moist cyber-sex and alleged cyber-drugs would later be reflected in Dantec’s own literary output (Babylon Babies).
Tim Blake had a short solo career when Gong’s drummer decided to put him on leave because he didn’t like his keyboard-playing. He joined them again in 1976 and also collaborated to Hawkwind –which might be not the most good taste thing he’s done. In his own way the precursor of mayhem laser shows ‘à la Jean Michel Jarre’ with his demented Crystal Machine project that inaugurated his collaboration with none other than Bernard Szajner. Blake was a French speaker and recorded all his albums in France.
A young philosphy graduate from, Pinhas was an expert guitar player and a studio shark when he joined Schizo in 1972, a band that made extensive usage of electronic sounds before he created Heldon a proteiform outfit of which he remained the only permanent member. One of the first ever French independent label founder, Pinhas delivered with Iceland moody ambient touches depicting an icy imaginary landscape. To this day the man is revered as much for his musical instincts as for his expert work on Nietzsche and Deleuze.
Fabrice Cuitade was a young label manager at Barclay in the seventies. He founds Egg Records as a side proejct with a view to compete with Virgin (first artist signings include Heldon among others). Right after seeing “Star Wars” for the first time, he decides to illustrate his concept of “The Force” on this rarer-than- rare, one and only release.
The de facto perfect Gothic couple. Spatsz, is a former psychiatric asylum medic residing in Nancy and turned machine-sorcerer whilst Mona Soyoc, is a born cat-woman hailing from Stamford but with Argentine ascent and grace to match. One of the landmark outfit of its time. Legend has it that Try Out was recorded in a country house where they had all doors sealed and all windows blinkered. So cold…
Im planning to post the music of these artists.Here is the first post as a bonus :
Nini Raviolette (synth & vocal) /L.d. Track (machine)/Erich Zann (guitar)/Doc Nosseoc (bass)
01 Suis-Je Normale
02 Je Tu Nous
03 Indicateur Ou Dragueur
Link to download:
"As for Nini Raviolette, well I know next to nothing about her! This fascinating slice of stripped-to-the-bone Electro-Pop is practically a one-track distillation of everything that is wonderful about the Laetitia Sadler-led Franco-pop stylings of Stereolab. Coming on like a austere bleepier version of their masterpiece "Music for The Amorphous Body Study Center" it should be more widely known. Tigersushi claim of this record that: "Her songwriter is none other than Alain Burosse the man behind landmark cyberpunk TV shows ‘Haute Tension’ & ‘L’Oeil du Cyclone’, but really I'm sure that means as little to them as it does to me."
"Suis je normale (minimal cold synth) in the same vein as o superman by laurie anderson"
I will continue this series...:)