gullbuy music review

So Young So Cold


So Young So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983



various artists CD

So Young So Cold: Underground French Music 1977-1983 CD coverThis well-constructed compilation, is significant not only for opening up these sounds to a larger audience but also for putting a definite perspective on a music scene that was all too short.

It is the late Seventies in Europe. The political tensions of the Sixties are now manifest in the extremes of hedonism and direct action. Youth feels alienated once again, this time its worse with constant violence on the television and industrial upheavals at home.

Urban decimation and Postmodernism at its height, further isolating people from their surroundings. European identity has been eradicated in shame and frustration. But something is happening. Punk Rock in the United Kingdom has shown kids all over the world that its easy for them to release music on independent labels. Current technological trends make access to new electronic instruments (ARP and MS10 among others) easy. In France a new youth culture is born. So Young But So Cold illustrates that trend brilliantly.

It begins with the most poppy tunes and gradually goes back in time, as more instruments are added to each song and the experts (mostly influenced by and creating progressive rock) take over. The first half of the disc the instrumentation is sparse, consisting of drum machine or keyboard and vocals primarily. By the end of the disc the tracks get more (analog) synthesizer oriented and denser in construction.

Here are a few that immediately leap to mind:

-NINI RAVIOLETTE Suis-Je Normale, The disc opens with the slow steady synth pulse of this starkly produced track. It sets the tone for the rest of the disc and is almost the declaration of a manifesto as Nini sings "suis-je, suis-je normale?" (am i, am i normal?) in a very slow and delibrate manner.

-J.J. BURNEL Euroman, Off the solo album Euroman Cometh by Stranglers bassist (and only true French member) J.J. Burnel, the song begins by him naming a succession of European leaders, becoming more and more sinister as the list goes on, <<Je suis descendent de... Charlemagne, Cromwell, Bonaparte, d'Adolf suis Euroman>> If a single song could express the frustration and helplessness of the time it would be this one. After a succession of a world ruled by madness and failure and recognising that same identity is yours, what can one do but assume that identity? But its too late, by the time you realize this, its already happened (deja commencer). This track captures the mood perfectly.

-RUTH Polaroid Roman Photo, This one begins with a steady drum pulse and the sound of a polaroid camera working, it is a steady meditation on the domination of technology in everyday life. The lyrics discuss the easy production automatic photo novels--homemade nostalgia. It was produced by Thierry Muller aka Illlitch (a major influence behind Nurse With Wound and Legendary Pink Dots among others)

-METAL BOYS Carnival, Metal Urbain's electro-pop project, with female vocals, its short, sweet and very poppy

-THE (HYPOTHETICAL) PROPHETS Person to Person / Wallenberg (produced by Karel Beer and Bernard Szajner) Specifically, Person to Person, such a brilliant song, with a man and woman's voice reading personal announcements from various publications. The repetition of each advertisement for a new relationship creates a funny but also disarmingly pathetic context for the packaging of one's sexual desires and plans for life. It ends with the line "Looks are not important: its your soul I want".

-KAS PRODUCT . So Young But So Cold ­ Put together a venezuelian-american jazz female singer and a french psychiatric hospital attendant and you have Kas Product. So Young But So Cold is a synth-punk anthem. Both of their albums have recently been reissued on CD.

-ARTEFACT M.A.E., the first really synthy-disco funk track on this disc, the band was created by extreme Right Wing theorist Maurice G. Dantec, who later went to work with Richard Pinhas and write Science Fiction novels.

TIM BLAKE Lighthouse, the first really crazy sci-fi kitsch track on here, it gets better as it goes along to be sure, it was released on EGG Records, the brainchild of Fabrice Cuitade, who is represented on this disc with The Droids. Tim Blake was a former member of Gong and soon to be member of Hawkwind.

BERNARD SZAJNER Welcome (to Death Row), the solo work of a French sound engineer, this track is an excellent synthesis of analogue electronics, processed guitar and acoustic piano.

RICHARD PINHAS Iceland, The disc closes with this lengthy blissful and somewhat cold track from a solo release of the Heldon guitarist. This is purely electronic progressive sound at its finest. The track takes you on a journey across an icy wasteland. Its release in 1979 was particularly apt.

---George Killgoar III, April 5, 2005