Wednesday, 23 May 2007
A CD by French singer Camille arrived at work the other day. As I didn't know if she was a jazz or pop or modern classical performer, I had to do a bit of research before cataloguing the album (Le fil) in such a way that no one who might be reasonably interested in it could ever find it short of scouring the entire CD collection (...and before you ask, yes, they *are* your taxes that are being wasted in this scandalous fashion...) The blurb I read compared her to Kate Bush and Bjork (so you see, I was right - uncategorisable...), so on the strength of that I took the CD home.
When I *finally* managed to get it loaded onto the PC (the copy I had was a "special edition" which contains its own programme to burn the CD into your music library - it defaults to the Windows Media Player burner for some reason...I thought Apple & EMI had buried the hatchet..??!!) it proved well worth a listen. Camille has a genuinely soulful voice and, given that, being somewhat easy on the eye, she could so easily have allowed herself to be marketed as a bit of a Dolly bird, there's an obvious musical intelligence at work here that's refreshing in the current climate where record companies seem to think that a woman thrusting her twat in your face is the only thing that will persuade anyone to listen to their warbling. (Don't they realise there are *plenty* of clubs for that sort of thing where you don't have to put up with them *whining* all the bloody time..??)
I suppose the closest musical similarity would be to describe her as a female Sign o' the Times-era Prince - appropriate, as the acceptable face of JWdom adopted the very same monicker (Camille, that is) for his varispeeded female altar-ego on that album. It's pared down, groovy and sassy in the same way that tracks like 'If I was your Girfriend' and 'Forever in my life' are.
This album features the unusual idea of a vocal drone, a looped note sung by Camille (a sort of Francophone 'OOOOMMMM') that runs the entire length of the piece (I think it's called a 'bou' in the credits - I'll have to have a look...) It's very effective and testament to the absorbing quality of the music that you stop noticing it after a few tracks. Camille is also unusual (although Bjork pulled this trick too, I believe) in that she uses her voice in place of instrumentation whenever possible. That too is surprisingly enjoyable (this is no Lady McFerrin) and when a real piano starts playing halfway through track 5, the effect is quite beautiful and transcendent.
As it's mainly sung in French, I couldn't give you a clue as to what she's on about half the time - although I did hear the word menage at one point, which can't be bad.... But she manages that time-honoured French chanteuse trick of sounding completely up for it and totally unapproachable at the same time with effortless ease. The last track, 'Quand Je marche' clocks in at around 38 minutes - 3 minutes of song, thirty of 'bou', stretching out to the last few ones and zeroes of disc space where we hear C. doing a bit of moaning and pouty-shrug talk. I'm ashamed to say I fast forwarded to the end, which is the only reason I know about the moany bit. It's worth a listen if the chatlines are all engaged, I suppose.
Still, sounds like she is up for it after all....
I will put a track up on the next Podcast - trouble is, which one? They're all pretty good...
There's an even more pretentious review of Le fil (it means, the thread, apparently...) than my Newsome one from yesterday here.
Oh, and if you see it, buy The Rough Guide to North African Music CD....it's fab, and I will be featuring stuff from that over the next few weeks (and probably blogging something about this fantastic, strange-yet-familiar music...)
L.U.V. on y'all,
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