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Brigitte Fontaine feat. Art Ensemble Of Chicago - Comme A La Radio (1970)

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

Roscoe Mitchell -Flute
Jacques Higelin - Guitar
Albert Guez - Lute
Joseph Jarman - Oboe, Saxophone
Areski - Percussion
Leo Smith , Lester Bowie - Trumpet
Brigitte Fontaine - Vocals

In 1969, a French chanteuse, an Algerian multi-instrumentalist, and a Chicago jazz quartet undertook an experimental, exploratory, revolutionary musical voyage. The album was Comme a la Radio, the fourth record for theater actress turned vocalist Brigitte Fontaine. Working with the experimentally-minded Areski Belkacem —who'd become her ongoing collaborateur and lover— and avant-garde jazzists the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Fontaine fashioned what's been called "one of the coolest albums ever recorded."

Comme a la Radio walks a magical line between tuneful and experimental, playful and disdainful. Belkacem juggles genres and timbres; mixing North African drones and percussion with piano and cello, summoning psychedelia and free jazz, whilst keeping things, if only loosely, within the traditions of the French chanson. Fontaine, out front, is an electric figure; her half-sung, half-spoken vocals dancing across the tunes with a nimble, charismatic ease. Even for listeners who speak no French, Fontaine's sense of voice as instrument, of language as rhythm, makes her vocal poetry transcend barriers of language.

In the four decades since Comme a la Radio was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, its legend has grown and grown. Whilst it may've sounded completely otherworldly and utterly confronting for its initial, unsuspecting, 1969 audience, to a modern era its trans-cultural, multi-genre mixture seems familiar, almost au courant. Fontaine, in many ways, seems a particularly contemporary figure. In recent years, she's collaborated with, amongst others, indie heavyweights Stereolab and Sonic Youth, both of whom have confessed a huge debt to her music. And, of course, to her greatest album.

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4 komentarze:

Ankh pisze...


mietek pisze...

no ładnie; a nie masz Pan tej płyty na której Soniki grają?

Ankh pisze...

Ano ni mom Panie Dobrodzieju .... Ale postaram się. Pozdrawiam serdecznie.

mietek pisze...

spoko, już znalazłem - LP "Kekeland", jak zresztą sporo innych:
tylko tam się dziwnie ściąga: klikasz na obrazek, ściąga się plik tekstowy z właściwym linkiem do płyty, hasło jak trzeba to MOODSWINGS.

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