Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem

Vous Et Nous
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski Belkacem
Vous Et Nous

Fearless, mongrel, high-church free-folk masterpiece…a visionary assemblage of electronic experiments, North African trance, refined acoustics and medieval drones…the square root of the Raincoat’s Odyshape and Marc Hollander’s’ Onzes Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine, and that rare thing - a double-album that you wish was triple, or quadruple, or…you get the idea. There are affinities with Emanuelle Parenin's similarly Arcadian, similarly out Maison Rose, released the same year, but Vous Et Nous is n on a stranger, deeper kick. Areski’s songwriting is astonishing, scaling the heights of Gallic pop sophistication when he feels like it but mainly, and more impressively, achieving the chant-like simplicity and unaffectedness that are the hallmarks of true folk music: ancient and inherited, drawn from his Kabyle roots, from his late 60s immersion in the chants and ritual poetry of Morocco’s Gnawa people, from the soil, from the wild, wild wood…

Vous Et Nous - We and You - was originally intended as an Areski solo jag, but “Brigitte would sneak into the studio at nightfall, adding her voice here and there, her whispers then became screams, giving fuel to the fire in a total blaze, a surreal blaze.” The arrangements are modal, hypnotic, ecstatically repetitious, achieving maximal hallucinatory effect from minimal means: often little more than a cycling acoustic guitar and layers of some-bazaar percussion. The influence of the American jazz vanguard is palpable, not just the Art Ensemble of Chicago (who Brigitte collaborated with to such awe-inspiring effect on ‘73s Comme a La Radio) but also, perhaps, the rootical, hand-drum-driven psychedelia of Don Cherry and Organic Music Society. Unsurprising that this stuff would be fawned over by Sonic Youth, Stereolab et al a coupla decades later. Not only does it yolk together European, American and African techniques and energies, it also offers a magickal compression of past, present and the yet-to-come: ‘Vous et Nous 2’ and ’Je t’aimerai’'s do rousing medieval fanfare better than Kay Hoffman’s Floret Silva, while there are also a dozen oneiric, drum-machine-driven vignettes and ambient pop fragments that anticipate the bedroom messthetics / Mini-Moog melancholia of Brunnen, Dome and Die Weltraumforscher, and there is genuine future-shock in the moody, sub-bass-a-pella 'Le brin d'Herbe' and ‘Patriarcat’ - eccentric, stripped-down synth-funk that you can imagine Electrifyin’ Mojo beaming into the minds of impressionable young Mays and Craigs.

Yeah, it’s a dream of a record… and unbelievably, this is the first time it's been reissued on vinyl since it came out in '77. If you haven’t heard it before, christ...lucky you. Don't even think about it...highest possible recommendation!

 

£27.99

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