A shameful little secret, maybe: I bought Christophe’s latest album. Christophe is a kind of alien in the French pop-music world, who can admit to liking his odd timbre, somewhat high-pitched voice, his effeminate mannerisms, his school-girl sentimentality? His style is reminiscent of some retro space-time Italy where he comes from: a romantic adolescent with long hair, mustache, cowboy boots, leather jackets. In any case, in the last album I bought, my favorite was Enzo Ferrari, a song with a seductive melody on a techno beat that entranced me. It was nostalgic in a piercing, poignant way, his voice another track in the mix, veiled, half whispered half cried. Not really human. Everything was there, the beat, the groove, and also the emotion, woven into a rich acoustic tapestry. So I did buy the latest album to check if he did it again and he did. Even better. He pulled it out of some subterranean night-life he is familiar with. He brought back stories and moments that I make mine in full daylight on my way to work. Sulphurous dreamy moments, and I see it all, the bedroom, the intimate encounters in dimmed lights.
There is something uncool about electronic music in general, in my own little world. But in small doses, it can wake you up, the way my daughter woke me up one morning with Daft Punk and Get Lucky. I was taking Zumba classes at the time, and I choreographed something on the spot. She took a cold disdainful look at me and declared me “spastic.” But I couldn’t stop! That effervescent track had invaded my ears, my veins. I was hooked. It was the layers of fast shika shika shika shika and ti ti ti titi , and the chord successions, and the convincing voice. I didn’t care much about the words themselves, they were vapid. But I spent far too much time online trying to solve the mystery of this nerve-jingler. I learned a lot about the two guys, their pop-professionalism. The tune became a huge hit, everybody was becoming spastic. I was kind of glad when the effect passed.
Sometimes you can get caught by surprise. I tend to bump into Moby once in a while. Last time was when I saw his autobiography at my local bookstore when waiting for my daughter at her dance class. I learned that Moby had had problems with alcohol. That rang a bell. The first time I heard Moby was in France when I was visiting my family. Back from a Sunday outing I heard my younger brother playing the trance-like sounds that were catchy in a very cool and trendy hypnotic way. I learned later that my brother had a problem with alcohol. I put two and two together. This is what being drunk sounds like. I think I bought a CD and listened to it in my vehicle to understand my brother better. My car is the best acoustic chamber I know. The CD slowly disappeared with time. You can’t drive and listen to Moby at the same time anyway. And I was not that addicted.
In passing, I would like to mention Kate Bush’s album, Aerial that I bought years ago out of nostalgia for my teens and out of curiosity for how she had evolved. And it was what I call techno. It was the same voice, but on repetitive loopy tracks coming out of an electric box. It was not bad at all, but not really my cup of tea. I wondered if she had made a descent into drugs, I worried about her, if there had been a bad relationship, something terrible. There’s probably nothing as terrible as being a famous pop success in your twenties and spend the rest of your life in seclusion.
And then I will finish with another sort of secret, although it is a lot less shameful. I admit I have been an Alain Chamfort fan for the last twenty years. French pop music. But quality pop music. I like to think of him as my ami-de-coeur on the other side of the Atlantic. He tells me his love stories, I tell him mine, he advises me. I don’t really believe what he tells me, but he’s funny like that. We really hit it off with an album entitled Personne n’est parfait. Since then he never disappointed me, if friends can disappoint you. I know I will never be able to describe what he is to me and why I go see him. It’s a matter of wavelengths. The point is that in his latest album is a bouncy techno-tune called Joy, something from a gumball machine that would be cool and classy at the same time.
What is your rapport with techno music?