Monday, February 18, 2008

Brigitte Fontaine - Comme A La Radio (1970)



Listen to 'Le Goudron':



Of all the strange records this French vanguard pop chanteuse ever recorded, this 1971 collaboration between the teams of Brigitte Fontaine and her songwriting partner Areski and the Art Ensemble of Chicago -- who were beginning to think about returning to the United States after a two-year stay -- is the strangest and easily most satisfying. While Fontaine's records could be beguiling with their innovation, they occasionally faltered by erring on the side of gimmickry and cuteness. Here, the Art Ensemble provide the perfect mysterious and ethereal backdrop for her vocal explorations. Featuring the entire Art Ensemble of that time period and including fellow Chicago AACM member Leo Smith on second trumpet, Fontaine and Areski stretched the very notion of what pop had been and could be. With strangely charted arrangements and mixing (percussion was in the foreground and horns were muted in the background, squeezed until they sounded like snake-charming flutes), the ten tracks here defy any and all conventions and result in the most provocative popular recording of 1971 -- and that's saying something. For their part, the Art Ensemble hadn't played music this straight since before leaving Chicago, with long, drooping ballad lines contrasted with sharp Eastern figures and North African rhythmic figures built in. The finest example of how well this works, and how seductively weird it all is, is on the two-part "Tanka." Here, Malachi Favors' bass and Areski's percussion meet everything from bouzoukis to clarinets to muted trumpets to sopranino saxophones, courtesy of Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Smith, and Lester Bowie, who play in tandem, using striated harmonies and modal intervals in order to stretch the notion of time and space under Fontaine's vocals. The effect is eerie, chilling, and hauntingly beguiling, and sets the tone for an entire album that runs all over the stylistic map while not adhering to anything but its own strange muse. This is remarkable stuff from a very adventurous time when virtually anything was possible.

Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

1. Comme à la Radio
2. Tanka II
3. Le Brouillard
4. J'ai 26 ans
5. L'Été L'Été
6. Encore
7. Leo
8. Les Petits Chevaux
9. Tanka I
10. Lettre à Monsieur le Chef de Gare de la Tour Carol

Bonus tracks:

11. Le Goudron
12. Le Noir c'est mieux choisi


Comme à la Radio

8 comments :

Evan Jones said...

Thanks for posting this. Looking forward to hearing it.

Margot said...

Believe me or not, this was the first music blog I fell in love with.

Now I have mine and I've a put a link to yours!

Cheers,
Margot

http://moonmusick.blogspot.com/

DeltaT said...

Hi. I'm a big fan of your blog. I just started one
Link: http://deltatgoesback.blogspot.com

Greetz

Fran Solo said...

Hi Freaky Lady, it's a great blog! my question: any chance to repost "3 Hür-El - 3 Hür-El"?, the link is broken...
Greetings and long live your blog,
Fran Solo

Anonymous said...

Hi just discovered the blog tonight. What an amazing site. The only problem is I've tried downloading one of the albums which came as .rar file and I can't get anything to open it. Can anyone help explain what I'm doing wrong???? Help

vanDiemerbroucke said...

my musical education continues...

thanks

un français en Chine said...

Merci beaucoup, j'en avais besoin

dugg said...

this sounds like a fascinating album. thanks for making it possible to hear it!
dmix