Euro week 3: The French Krautrock explosion!

Friday, 29 February 2008, 23:39 | Category : Uncategorized
Tags :

This is the final instalment of my short ‘Euro Week’ on the DG. I should do it again sometime, next time for more than just a couple of days.

Anyway, this is all about French Krautrock. Not that Krautrock played by French bands should be more noteworthy or unique that British bands playing music influnced by Can, Neu!, Faust et al, but it’s more that I don’t listen to very much French music at all, and the two band which have come my way recently, and I have really liked both play a very similar sort of music, which could probably be described as
“rock choucroute” (as Krautrock is known in France). It’s not a scene. Well, not yet anyway until a trendier publication with a wider readership gets hold of the idea.

Anyway, first up we have Turzi, which is both a person and a band. The man is the Versailles-born Paris resident Romain Turzi, and the band is actually confusingly called Reich IV. But together they are Turzi, one of France’s permier exponents of electronic pulsating grooves, with battling synths and guitars carving out a sort of late-night-in-the-city soundtrack for somewhere quite bleak, yet very exciting.

The album’s called A and is a concept record of sorts, with all the tracks starting with the letter A. The concept doesn’t just stay here either - according to the press release, it’s the first installment in a trilogy which will see (naturally) B and C follow. A is the “beginning of an adventure” apparently. Well, I don’t care too much for the concept, whatever it’s meant to be, but if the next parts of the adventure are going to be anywhere near as good as the first installment, it’ll be the finest trilogy, oh, since Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy at least…

Like MIT a few days ago, my only complaint about this album is that the vocals are often superfluous. Otherwise, it rattles along at a fair old pace and leaves you wanting more. A is out now - go get it. Turzi were in the UK recently supporting Simian Mobile Disco. They’re in the US at the moment. Hope they’ll be back here soon.

Download: Turzi - Animal Signal
Turzi - Acid Taste

Second we have Zombie Zombie. Their name was familiar from somewhere before I remembered that they were on the bill at last year’s End of the Road festival. I didn’t see them of course, but now sort of wish I had.

The two main men in Zombie Zombie - Etienne Jaumet and Cosmic Neman – met during a retrospective of Italian horror flick director Dario Argento, and decided to pursue their interests in music, informed by their passion for cult movies. It’s probably relevant that this is the backdrop, because like Turzi, their music is particularly cinematic. The debut full-length Land for Renegades is a concept album, conceived by the duo as a soundtrack to an imaginary film which follows a loose plotline they’ve made up, but which is quite irrelevant to your enjoyment of the music. In fact, you can make up your own film, and it would probably fit quite nicely. It was an apt soundtrack to my drive through East London tonight.

Aside from the two people at the core of Zombie Zombie, Romain Turzi shows up as a guest guitarist just to prove that there’s no rivalry in this Gallic Krautrock scene. Also helping out is David-Ivar Herman Dune, which may sound surprising but only if you don’t realise that ‘Cosmic’ is also known as Neman Herman Dune. It just goes to show that as the good book says, man shall not live by witty lyrics and whimsical indie-pop alone. He needs his motorik grooves as well. And with that in mind, here’s an important note – this is an album to be listened to loud! Let it wash over you. Listen as the analogue synths whirr and whoosh from one speaker (or headphone) to another. And once they lock into that groove, it’s hard to resist. It feels like they’ve recorded it live, and it’s all the better for it. Renegades is totally terrific stuff, and in a short space of time has become one of my favourite albums of the year so far.

They’re over here for some gigs in early May. I reckon they’ll be well worth checking out. I’ll be there if I can.

Download: Zombie Zombie – Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free
Download: Zombie Zombie – Psychic Harmonia 2

The album isn’t out until May (despite what it says in the artwork thingy above), so no pre-order links at the moment. In the meantime, you can listen to tunes on their myspace, and I’ll be sure to be mentioning them again round about the time of release.

Leave a comment