Friday, March 06, 2009

Abstract Index Playlist - March 4/09

No doubt this is one of the better known albums I've blogged about. Discerning readers of this site should already know a little about Monsieur Gainsbourg, the brilliant and controversial dirty old man of French chanson and beyond.

This masterpiece is finally getting its first ever domestic release in North America, courtesy of Light In The Attic. LITA has always sought out rock solid beats within kaleidoscopic orchestration, and this is a brilliant addition to their catalog. A tip of the hat goes to Finders Keepers records, with whom they've partnered in the project. Hopefully the intended domestic audience to this hasn't already torrented this disc into uncommercial oblivion - maybe the outstanding and thorough liner notes will justify purchase.

I'm tempted to say that this is a lush remastering job, but the arrangements and mixing are so deep and delicious that this album would still sound good even if it were dubbed off a cheap cassette. Jean Claude Vannier is a key player here - at a time when orchestras in pop music were getting ever more massive, Vannier knew when to use huge choirs and churning strings judiciously. Beyond Gainsbourg's proto rap vocals (and you keep thinking that some MC with a convoluted, metaphysical flow is gonna start spitting at any minute), the orchestration actually amplifies the power of the beats rather than submerging them in a thick layer of honey. The rock n roll nastiness of his crack session team never got any deeper than this, either, with great, jagged invention in the guitars and non-stop funk in the rhythm section. The disc never overstays its welcome at a mere 28 minutes.

"Melodie", which led off the show this week, combines all the elements into seven and a half minutes of tension and (partial) release - you have to sit through another 15 minutes before you get to the tickle-gasm sounds, though. And that brief section is, er, anticlimactic, because it reminds the listener just how sleazy the concept is: Ol' Serge sexing up a 13 year old after nearly running her over with his car.

BTW, Gainsbourg's muse Jane Birkin is four months pregnant in the salacious cover photo, hence her unbuttoned pants. Why did you think they were unbuttoned, ya big perv???


melodie - serge gainsbourg (light in the attic)
tics - lars horntveth rmx. by four tet (domino)
anchors (by design) - jon irabagon's outright (innova)
african escape - alexis baro (no label)
family galaxy - tim exile (planet mu)
rehux - rumpistol (rump)
varashan - ziya tabassian (ambiances magnetiques)
mono hum - humcrush (rune gramofon)
orange peel - reuben wilson (blue note)
sidewalk doctor - jackie mittoo (soul jazz)
addis ababa dub - wackies allstars (wackies)
two face - ticklah (easy star)
hanky's panky - shirley scott (charly)
champion of the arena - jackie mittoo (blood and fire)
hot milk - jackie mittoo (blood and fire)
darker shade of black - jackie mittoo (blood and fire)
warrior - jason wilson (no label)
soul bird - jackie mittoo (light in the attic)
reggae magic - jackie mittoo (soul jazz)
black wax - pablove black (soul jazz)
dub rock - soundstorm (soul jazz)
trouble - citizen sound (VX)
truths and dub - improvisators dub (vicious circle)

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