Thursday, August 28, 2008

Inventing Chansonica

Without a doubt my favourite and most listened-to album of the moment is kooky French artist Camille's second album, Music Hole. Most middle class 30-somethings will have come across Camille on Nouvelle Vague's first album, on which she totally stole the show with her sexy rendition of 'Too Drunk to Fuck'. Playful and experimental, Camille's latest solo venture strikes a compelling balance between avant-garde electronica and tongue-in-cheek Vaudeville. Catchy numbers like 'Katie's Tea' - an ode to tea-drinking with which I can certainly identify, and 'Cats and Dogs', which cheekily suggests that "cats and dogs are not our friends, they just pretend, they just pretend" are interspersed with sweeping anthems such as the seductively soulful 'Kfir' and passionately secular 'Gospel with No Lord'. Unlike her previous album, Le Fil, Music Hole is sung mostly in English, with just the occasional sprinkling of French.

I was trying to describe Camille to a friend who had never heard her stuff, and came up with a whole new genre - Chansonica - which I'm pretty sure noone else has coined before. This freshly invented portmanteau can be used to refer to those artists who follow the classic French 'Chanson' tradition in terms of lyrics and singing style, but incorporate a more contemporary, electronic approach to their arrangements - Charlotte Gainsbourg, Emilie Simon, and even some later Serge Gainsbourg would all qualify. Thanks to the wonders of Last.fm tagging, I am currently introducing this wondrous musical concept to the wider world, hoping that it will catch on and lead to some more new discoveries for my budding Chansonica collection. Maybe I'll even make a mix-tape!

Camille is currently touring, with two UK dates coming up in October (London - 19th and Glasgow - 20th). I'm planning to catch her in Luxembourg in December during our usual pre-Christmas continental jaunt.


Photograph of Camille by *maya* on Flickr

1 comment:

  1. A fine coinage. I humbly offer Stereolab as an example of the genre.

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