Jean-Claude Vannier

L' Enfant Assassin des Mouches

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Jean-Claude Vannier is best known in Europe (and all but unknown in the United States) as a celebrated composer of film scores, and as an arranger and producer of French pop music, he has worked with everyone from Brigitte Fontaine to Françoise Hardy to Johnny Hallyday. He is also known among music aficionados as the genius-arranger behind Serge Gainsbourg's classic concept LP Histoire de Melody Nelson. That recording, with its bizarre and otherworldly blend of musical and non-musical sources, which effortlessly wound rock, jazz, pop, found-object music, avant-garde, and even funk into a seamlessly, utterly disconcerting whole, has been sampled worldwide by hip-hop artists and DJs. L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches ("The Child Killer of the Flies") is Vannier's first solo recording, and an underground Francophone (and now worldwide) classic. Inspired by the work he did with Gainsbourg on Melody Nelson in 1972, he and his ensembles Insolitudes, set out to create his own concept work, blending everything he'd been working on and extending his range with total studio and aesthetic freedom. This suite, comprised of 11 parts (with truly weird and creepy track introductions by Gainsbourg), is a wonder, a truly strange bit of '70s musicalia. This set is the terrain where soundtrack music, classical music, gauche pop, hard rock, French café music, Middle Eastern modal music, vanguard musical iconoclasty, and sound effects collide, stroke, and ultimately come into union with one another -- often in a single cut. This music is alternately violent, garish, tender, elegant, silly, and gritty. Vannier plays piano, clavinette, and flutes, and directed the orchestra. The strings here are the result of a multi-tracked string quartet sounding like a 10,001-string orchestra. He used three guitarists, electric bass, a single drummer and two percussionists, a reed and brass section, an accordionist, and a choir to achieve this. Its seamlessly beautiful yet hideous juxtapositions should never have worked, but they become the face of something so far beyond their individual parts that the end result is singular in both conception and execution. L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches is to music what surrealism was to literature: a bold new step that has been unmatched in vision and unequaled in performance since it was recorded. Highly recommended to anyone interested not only in soundtrack music, but in anything adventurous. This is a truly underground classic. [The CD version, released in 2005, contains a pair of bonus tracks taken from another Vannier LP, Point d'Interrogation.]

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