Les Créatures

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Les Créatures (Creatures) was Philippe Katerine's first album to be distributed outside of France and it brought him his first commercial success. This short disc (38 minutes) was recorded in early 1999 with the avant-garde jazz trio the Recyclers (Steve Argüelles, Christophe Minck, and Benoît Delbecq) and, on three tracks, an orchestra. Katerine's appeal resides in his short songs -- musically twisted and lyrically disarming. He handles humor in a way almost closer to the British than the French. The album begins with a hidden track before index one, "08.12.2008." The title is the date of his presumed death, since life means nothing and people die in all the most meaningless circumstances. Yet this message is accompanied by a very joyful tune. Highlights are numerous and include the avant-jazz/funk riffs of "Américaine," "Gare du Nord," and "Mon Meilleur Ami Est un Chien" (My Best Friend Is a Dog, a typical Katerine-esque self-depreciatory theme), all very different avant-gardist pop songs written in collaboration with the Recyclers. On "Je Vous Emmerde" (I'm Bugging You), a sunny, '70s-like dance song, the singer is severely rejected by a girl he invites to dance. But the pinnacle is reached with "Poulet N. 728 120" (Chicken No. 728,120), where he tells over a fake tango motif the history of the chicken he ate for dinner -- where it was bred, how it was fed, and how it was killed and prepared -- finally saying, "Chicken No. 728,120, I love you/I'm thinking of you." It's absolutely delightful. This song became a hit on many French-speaking radio stations. Some people may have problems with Katerine's lack of singing ability (he actually narrates rather than sings), but his warped sense of pop is very entertaining.

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