Saturday, October 5, 2013
Mehdi Zannad Fugue. I have a tenuous link with France and so now I shall grant my official blessing to the dazzling goodness here. My own mother is fully French-Canadian. Street! And yet apart from Marcel Beliveau the French hold the Quebecois in dramatically low esteem, erm... Or so I assume. I have not done any research. The anti-anglo forces marching in the streets of Paris as profession probably admire their implacable threat of secession as thumb in the eye of all things Anglo and Amerikkkan but the French spoken in Quebec as a bulwark against yankee imperialism only soothes when used by the likes of Felix Leclerc. And so my credibility, as always, is in doubt. Mehdi Zannad used to be Fugu and now he has released this album entitled Fugue, or not just now, not really. It was released in 2011. Do you understand? Oh so long ago. 6 years after his previous album, more than a decade after the romantic and baroque debut. He's a genius(Roger Kimball would blast my carelessness), truly, and this is his heart in full bloom as much as the last record and the record before and the entire pantheon of music that was and ever will be ruthlessly ignored but is secretly, truly, the greatest thing ever and which will cause you great heartache when you discover it on your deathbed 47 years from now and realize those moments you spent with Bros are gone forever. It's sunny, optimistic and seemingly effortless. I have come back from reading a dreadful review in a magazine run by people from whom I once purchased many records, in the past, and, yes, I agree with everything he wrote apart from the sentiment and the ridiculous complaint about the brevity but say it with style or pose, at the least. The record is short. It is standard measure 70s pop. The Raspberries, Todd Rundgren, Ozark Mountain Devils and more modern practitioners such as AC Newman. Similarities abound, but this is clearly out of their league, all of them. It is in french and the language "like a piano without pedals" remains impenetrable to me although I did take 3 years in high school and my genetic predilection towards francophilia should have been an aid more than it is now but it is not. Third track, Le Tableau. Acoustic guitars, his honey sweet voice, endlessly effeminate and warm. Possibly this is a lament, as it is a fair bit more dour than the two opening tracks, this was the pattern off the ebb and flow on the last album as well. But that record was in English. The glory of English as a application in pop music is that English words float in the ether of unintended associations. French as the language of diplomacy is made of concrete. Second track was L'aeroport. It contained lyrics written by a french director I have never heard of. He has written all of the lyrics. I watched Romantics Anonymous on the Netflix a few days ago. I don't know who directed it. Possibly Mehdi's best buddy was in the chair. It was charming and lovely because while it was very French it was also very not French. In each morning commute I have been listening to "Thinking Allowed" from the BBC and recently they had a panel discussion on Michel Foucault and I found it fascinating and they also Erving Goffman and Walter Benjamin as well and while all of these people are mad strangely I found myself most sympathetic to the line of thinking of Michel Foucault. Unexpected. Mad men all of them but intellectuals in France have been the root cause of a great deal of evil in this and the previous centuries and so I find myself betrayed by my own sympathetic heart. He's dead, he died, he would have loved this record. Possibly. He was very french and in his classicism and devotion to more anglocentric pop music Mehdi is perhaps less than French. It is Phoenix, very French tres' annoying, that is shifting units and annoying sensible folks the world over while Mehdi probably sails an anonymous skiff out into the future. Now Oh Sarah, gorgeous folk pop. If you google Sarah without an h on the internet you receive a great amount of conversation about the seriousness of the slight you can impose on someone whose name is Sarah and whose name ends in an h if you decide, cavalierly, to abscond with superfluous consonants. My favorite superfluous consonant is Thom. Mostly because I find Thom Yorke mainly ridiculous. Anyhow, this Sarah is anonymous but marvelous still. Another short song, another wonderful song. This begins with a tender plaintive, acoustic dream and then moves into a celebratory hymn to anything you wish because it is in French if you recall and our ignorance a bridge to anywhere. I was watching a show on Public Television where they were attempting to teach Japanese through people discussing how to hail a rickshaw. It was disappointingly ineffective, I am still not fluent. A short instrumental now, a piano gently struck and a french horn and a soft chord here and there with wordlessness arriving about halfway through. Just magical. Why is he toiling in this rarified obscurity? Is he shunned among the natives for his embrace of English on previous records? But this is in French. Remember. Johnny Hallyday is surely nearing the denouement of his career, surely there is room for Johnny, Jordy, Felix Leclerc and Mehdi Zannad at the top of the charts? There is a new film about the chef at the Elysee palace during Francois Mitterand's imperium. Communists like to eat nostalgic food is the crux from what I can gather from the interwebs. Why then will not Francois Hollande invite Mehdi to the palace to tickle the piano and like an oneironaut carry the entire cabinet back to their life of privilege, the ecole superieure, the tough struggles of their life as union agitator, freshman MP, then reflexive totalitarianism as cabinet minister. Francois could invite Segolene, dance a rhumba and drift back to times when he seemed promising. we all were promising once upon a time. My promising era ended 11 days after my own birth. I was not born in France. I could have been. Au Revoir is genius. Comment Faire now. He's singing someone else's words, recall, but he's effecting a marvelous spirit in the music. It's joyous, boyish, cheerful, sunshine. The fall snuck up on us rather sinisterly announcing itself yesterday with the first snow flight of the season. Nothing overly traumatic, a few flakes, the sight of your breath at the end of your own nose and the cheer that comes when night turns now dominant over the day and we will soon live sharper, closer lives than in summer when the black world extends only a few meters beyond your arm's grasp. Where demons and monsters linger in permanent shadows where men scurry and fail in tests of courage that withers and dies without the nourishment of sunlight. So this record is important. It is the earth and moon and sun all distilled into wonderful pop songs, impelled into the greater existence by a heart's most pure sentiments. It covers the darkness like sediment, brightening the abyss one layer at a time. L'Allemagne on now, a bit of a dirge finale but repetitive and hypnotic to an acoustic trill and dream. Dreams always. Last track, Paresse. Harpsichordish piano chords, buoyant and clear, an opening act before the drums arrive and the meat of the drama arrive. Laziness. Is this a plea to his own sensibility? He has released but 3 records in 10 years. Each has been terrific, mind, but I am certain there are dozens of songs we need to hear and we will never because of paresse or ignominy or quantitative easing, but there are now 3 records where before there were only 2, in fact this was true only a week ago and so cheer and love and smile and listen.