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Jean-Claude Vannier - L'enfant assassin des mouches CD (album) cover


Jean-Claude Vannier

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Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I officially announce that today (June 13th) is hereby called "Logan Day", but since I have no authority to make such a proclamation this will only be so in my little world.The Canucks winning the cup tonight would be the icing on the cake (Logan lives in B.C.) but unfortunately I have no control over that. Why "Logan Day" ? Well my review this morning and the one i'll do tonight are of two albums that Greg (Logan) recommended to me and he gave them both 5 stars, that's why. It's karma yo ! Okay that made no sense at all but please just play along.

Jean Claude Vannier is from France and he was (is) a very successful composer of film scores but not only that he was a producer and arranger of some of the biggest pop stars in Europe. So while he might be unknown over here in North America this is not so in Europe. He's a genius really when it comes to arranging and on this his first album he blends many styles in a seemless manner. It's like he tricks the listener because he is so good at what he does.He uses a string quartet, a brass and reed section, a choir, samples and many, many instrumentalists to accomplish this master work.This is a concept album (although completely instrumental) based on Serge Gainsbourg's story called "The Child Fly-Killer". I'm going to use the English song titles because it will be faster for me as the French ones are quite long.The story is about a boy who tries to burn flies with matches.The one fly he hurts leads him into the fly kingdom where the boy sees the king of the flies playing billiards.The king asks the boy to dance and in an act of treachery the boy dumps a pot of rose jam on the floor which covers the king.The king manages to drag himself to the beach in an effort to get this jam washed off him, but the boy meets him there and torments him by hitting him with a rod. A troop of flies tries in vain to save the king but alas it's too late as the king has been beaten to death.The flies plot their revenge and get the child stuck on this child-paper (like fly paper but for humans) where they cover him as he breathes his last. This is not based on a true story in case you were wondering. I should mention that it's very cool to hear Claude Engel playing guitar on this album, that's the same guy who played on MAGMA's debut as well as the UNIVERIA ZEKT record also with MAGMA.

"The Child The Fly And The Matches" opens with faint sounds before you can hear the matches being lit, one after the other. Outbursts of sound come and go then church bells.The music comes in after 2 minutes and I really like the guitar here. Sax is followed by drums then dissonant horns.The guitar is back before 4 minutes then more horns. "The Child In The Fly Kingdom" sounds so good when the vocal melodies join in around 1 1/2 minutes.The guitar becomes prominant then we get a calm before 2 1/2 minutes before it kicks back in. Great sound here.The sound of water takes over then an abrasive sound. "Dance Of The Black Flies,The King's Guards" sounds amazing with the horns, strings, drums, piano and more.You can hear the sound of someone playing billiards after 3 minutes to end it.

"Dance Of The Child And The King Of The Flies" has these vibes that are very upfront on this silly sounding tune. Lots of strings,horns and piano as well. "The King Of The Flies" opens with samples then this exotic Eastern flavour takes over with lots of percussion. Some loud noises before 5 minutes. "The Child Fly-Killer" has these classical instruments that come and go then it kicks in at a minute. "The Guards Fly To The King's Rescue" is such a great sounding track with those vocal melodies, drums and bass leading the way. It does get fuller at times as contrasts continue. It ends with percussion and heavy breathing (poor king) as horns and loud outbursts arrive.

"Death Of The King Of The Flies" has this incredible sounding guitar that reminds me of Krautrock but it changes quickly. It is back at 1 1/2 minutes. Nice. "Spidery Scrawl / Fly Legs" opens with eerie sounds then this haunting atmosphere envelopes the soundscape.Time for some revenge ! "The Paper Child-Killer" has this swirling almost circus like melody with accordion then it turns waltz-like. "The Death Throes Of The Child Murderer" starts with flute and piano then the guitar, drums and organ take over.

One question. Why is there this bare assed guy on the album cover ?! Happy Logan Day everyone !

Report this review (#460445)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
5 stars Magic

Self-taught pianist, composer and arranger Jean-Claude Vannier is without a doubt responsible for one of the most imaginative albums of the 20th century. Ever since hooking up with the French film industry in 69, making a lot of soundtracks, this guy has been dishing out some of the most unique orchestrated music. This particular symphonic trade exudes through in his work, and you feel the panoramic girth of this man's vision like you're sitting with your nose pressed firmly against the cinema screen.

Vannier is in a league of his own. Taking seemingly unfamiliar pieces of music and taping them up together in a strange eloquent form of sonic origami. Whatever this man puts together, it works - and not only that, it flipping jumps at you like a small frog on epo. You just got to marvel at his genius - this is indeed a musician that does what he wants - directs others exactly like he wants and always manages to cook up something out of this world.

This masterpiece is a melting pot of rock orchestration, brass instruments, strings, heavenly choirs and what often sounds like the percussion kit from a scary Tom & Jerry movie. This record very casually and elegantly embraces so many different styles of music, that you at some point get lost in a sonic haze halfway between Singapore and Paris.

Opening up with cinematic effects, bell tower, clocks - a match gets lit, and you hear the ambient zoom of traffic and distant road noises. A deep slow breath cuts everything into a short blackness....nothing, and then the majestic funk prog emerges with low down bass stylings and wickedy wah wah guitar wagging its hazy tail like a happy dog. Somehow this thing then takes a complete u-turn ending up in the jungle-book's original theme music with some twisted reeds sounding particularly loopy.

Already by now you will probably have established the music to be highly eclectic, but boy you ain't seen nothing yet. Second cut gives away to a funky styled chant rock that goes into a real humdinger of a bluesy jazz piece, then metamorphosing into this grand symphonic creature with bonkers percussion features and the most gorgeous Atom Heart Motheresque choir you'll ever come across.

WOOUUHH and you get a huge startle with a big loud screech.....still breathing a little heavily from the shock you now sense a heroic ambiance coming to the fore, in a tune that could've assisted Rocky back when he was running up steps in Philly. This is deliberately pompous string sage-rated soundtrack music with some jumpy Lucky Luke piano alongside it. Had it not been for the subtle menace in the bass violins, this one could've been tasteless, but it's not - it's absolutely fabulous, just like the rest of the tracks. Whether it's a combination of RIO and cabaret rock in silly clown shoes - or the most astonishing track that starts off with a Floyd like RRRRIIING and leads you through the desert night on beautiful Arabic melodies and Indian rhythms - Vannier seems like a man that can do no wrong.

It's also about the little things. There's a tiny piece on here that only consists of a guitar, presumably rained heavily upon to the sounds of a humpback whale playing the sax, and I absolutely love it to death! Hell even the small ditty that conveys a kind of peyote fuelled Fantasia with brass instruments taunting the strings feels oddly in tune with the gist of the album.

If you're looking for the next best thing since Transformers and liquorice, you better run down to your nearest record dealer and demand a copy of the single most thrilling experimental rock album done with an orchestra. This is Sergio Leone meets Funkadelic. It's the album David Axelrod wishes he could've made. It's the kind of album that jets you through a gazillion movies in the mere time frame of 37 minutes. It's pure magic is what it is.

Report this review (#996663)
Posted Friday, July 12, 2013 | Review Permalink

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