Wednesday, 4 November 2009

La nouvelle scene francaise - Part 1 - The return to analogue

French culture is well renowned for exemplary cuisine, stunning architecture and trend setting fashion. However the cultural art form that is music continues to struggle to make an impact on a world stage.

In the dance related arena, electronic acts such as Daft Punk, Air and in recent years Justice have made large impacts on young party goers with other acts from the Ed Banger and Institubes labels blaring out of French clubs.

After some in-depth research into the French musical underbelly, there appears to be far more than electronic beats which keep the kids dancing. The following acts, old and new, display invention in response to a relatively unknown musical field.

Phoenix are a four piece band who originated from an affluent suburb of Paris, emanating from the same musical culture of the 1990’s which produced popular dance acts Air and Daft Punk. The alternative rock band have produced four albums spanning nine years, with the most recent Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix released this year. Phoenix are currently touring Europe with headline shows in the UK including London, Manchester and Birmingham.

Turzi clearly derive their musical sounds from the influences of specifically kraut rock, highlighted by the persistent rhythm, and also progressive rock music, which leans towards the exploration of new and experimental sounds. The music itself is described as ‘rock disciplinaire’, which boasts a solid structure of repeated sound patterns. Turzi’s 2007 album ‘A’ exhibits the disciplinary rock perfectly by creating a structured rhythm to which other sounds are added to and modified.

Of the same ilk is the French indie electronic duo Zombie Zombie, who boast an impressive range of synthesisers from previous eras at the same time attempting to keep analogue music alive in an unarguably digital era. Like Turzi the electronic duo appears to be branching out from the French electro scene and into a new clique of retro rock activity, which is reminiscent of Silver Apples and Neu!

These three bands may have started in the shadows of their popular electronic comrades but appear to be shining through in a response to their success in the digital revolution. The digitalised exports dominate listener’s interpretations of the French music scene; however bands such as these display a small analogue revolution to the dominating digital one. Their repetitive and modified sounds exhibit there is much more to France than digital electro beats encouraging listeners to not take for granted a seemingly passing analogue age.