Man

Main Gauche

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The French duo Man (not to be confused with their British elders) released their second album, Main Gauche, in the spring of 2002, a few months after Disques du Soleil et de l'Acier reissued their self-titled debut. While the first album was a collection of song sketches, deliberately incomplete in nature, this one presents something much more elaborate but still anchored in post-rock aesthetics. The album flows like a suite, especially in the first half. Charles-Éric Charrier and François Biyikli play acoustic bass guitar and piano or Fender Rhodes, respectively. Friends lay down a few more instruments, some more regularly than others. Nelly Jaléva's bass clarinet and clarinet are the most often heard. Each piece develops a single melodic idea, usually simple and a little naïve. A touch of melancholy, a drizzle of lost childhood, and you get the picture. Photographs in the booklet of an abandoned factory, a hollow building, emphasizes a likeness to the universe of Godspeed You Black Emperor!. The brief climactic explosion of drums at the end of "Yunarthur, Part II" also works along those lines, but as nicely scored it may be, it feels a bit too easy for its own good. Therefore, the best tracks remain the ones where the instrumentation and simplicity owe more to Pascal Comelade than post-rockers: "17h05," "Partir" (the only track with vocals, sung by Béatrice Templé), and the concluding "Belem," a beautiful campfire jam of acoustic guitar, accordion, bass clarinet, and percussion, impudently cheerful like a ray of sun stubbornly holding to the ruins. An unexpected fiesta.

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