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True concept albums are actually few and far between. While it can be said that The Who’s “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”, or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” were designed from the ground up, that’s not necessarily the case for equally mythical, yet composite albums such as Bowie’s “The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust”, or Lou Reed’s “Berlin”. In France, the genre established its pedigree in the 1970s with Serge Gainsbourg, then in the early 1980s with Léo Ferré. “Cri d'amour” by Mélanie Chédeville adds to this list of albums that tell a story through characters.

“Cri d'amour” was produced in a seaside setting, which may explain its flowing, organic character. It is all by herself that the violinist-by-training composed, wrote and arranged this collection of string-drenched songs that recall Jean-Claude Vannier’s work for Serge Gainsbourg. The latter would undoubtedly have been impressed by Mélanie’s fine-cut lyrics and melodies that are as raw as they are sophisticated, vocalized in a sprechgesang recalling his own. The deliberately retro palette, up to the bass sound so typical of 1960s English rock, betrays an artist indebted to the creator of Bonnie & Clyde and Initials B.B. through a sensual, clear tonality. Yet, polyrhythms borrowed from the late Afro-beat legend Tony Allen, and the touches of guitar, piano, percussion and synthesizers distilled here and there by Éric and Mélanie, end up giving the whole affair a resolutely atemporal color.

Mélanie was sixteen with a head full of Beethoven and Brahms when she succumbed to an unexpected fascination for the world of Éric, a pianist, composer and sound engineer, who regularly delivered scores for Marc Dorcel’s X-rated films. She evokes him in “L'Alpha-bêta” and “Le Pornographe”, through whispered choruses that would suit the late Julee Cruise or Vanessa Daou to a tee, and explicit allusions to a ‘sword of Damocles’ of ‘XXL’ dimensions.

These are not the only texts on this album that remind us of the Franco-American author Anaïn Nin’s erotic poems, a model that Mélanie willingly takes on, adding to the list of her literary influences alongside Apollinaire and his Debauched Hospodar:

Some may find this album old-fashioned, which, far from being a flaw, is a credit to the fine musician that Mélanie is. Others will call it a charming album, which is not a bad way to describe it, provided that it is a powerfully relentless charm.


TRACK LISTING

A1 - Mélanie
A2 - L’Alpha Beta
A3 - It’s Not Too Late
A4 - Paris
A5 - La Folia
A6 - Le Pornographe
A7 - La Belle Histoire
B1 - Nausica
B2 - Le Soleil
B3 - Cri D'amour
B4 - C’est Dans L’Air
B5 - Folk Silencio
B6 - Les Croisés

Various Artists

Afro Rythms Vol 2: Singles & Remixes 2009-2017

Comet Records presents “Afro Rhythms Vol. 2”, the first repress of Comet’s singles and remixes from 2009 – 2017. It’s a stellar lineup kicking off with Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer’s remix of Tony Allen’s “African Man"; a seminal slice of modern afrobeat-meets-ethereal techno that’ll busy dancefloors and excite patrons across the globe. Allen returns with “Afrodiscobeat” later, remixed by Africaine 808 and containing twerking synth licks, frisky horn section and skippy, afro-centric groove.

Classic Afro blues vocals are paired against a elastic soundbed and riotous house drums on Jeff Sharel’s remix of “Cotton Field” – an unstoppably incendiary track that’ll ignite any party. Krazy Baldhead deploys some tastefully sub tones and swirling sirens to “Awakening”, a producer’s-own refix of the band Donso.

The record’s a proper tour de force of both musicianship in the songs’ original source material and electronic production prowess by the remixers involved, who elevate these timeless track into a world of nightclub excess. A truly great release. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Matt says: I'm a dock-off Theo P fan but hilariously that was my LEAST favourite of the tracks here. Maybe it says summat about the quality of the others Idunno? But I implore you to find a better modern afrobeat jam than the Africaine 808 rework of Tony Allen, or the RV & ML remix of "African Man". Unmissable!

TRACK LISTING

Tony Allen - African Man (Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer Remix)
Brighter Nights - Cotton’s Field (Jeff Sharel Minimal Edit)
Theo Parrish, Tony Allen & Eska - Day Like This (Molo Remix)
Donso - Awakening (Krazy Baldhead Remix)
Tony Allen - Afrodiscobeat (Africaine 808 Rework)


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