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Gypsophile - De Loin, Les Choses

  by David McNamee

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Gypsophile - De Loin, Les Choses
Label: Radio Khartoum
Format: CD

intro

To start, I should point out that I’ve never been to France. Indeed, I’ve never even left the country, and beyond "Je te voudrais dans mon lit" and the few snippets I’ve gleaned from Tots TV, I certa


To start, I should point out that I’ve never been to France. Indeed, I’ve never even left the country, and beyond "Je te voudrais dans mon lit" and the few snippets I’ve gleaned from Tots TV, I certainly can’t speak French. I’ve always felt slightly patronised by the romantic notion that French is ‘the language of love’, especially when it has so often been invoked by dangerously right wing factions on the continent as a language of hate, an excluding factor, like the Union Flag a by proxy agent in campaigns supporting racism and xenophobia. ‘Je Taime’, meanwhile, only reminds me how to say I love you without having to believe in it. Because saying something romantic in French means that you really, really mean it. It is an undeniably beautiful language, although the appeal for me has never been in the soft vowels flowing evenly, like English with a sense of aesthetic, or the elegant lyrical quality of the French vocabulary which lends itself so favourably to a lovely voice. To be honest, I always preferred the harsher, more syllabic tongue of the Scandinavian (like a mix of staccato German and otherworldly Icelandic which, even today, sounds alien; like a communication from another planet). Maybe this is why French hip hop always struck my ear as being incongruous. The voice should be percussive, an instrument. The real beauty I find in French music - and despite having discovered this from cinema like 'A Bout De Souffle' and 'The Crime of Mr Lange', it always has been more so in the music than the spoken word itself - is its wonderful ability to cue the imagination. So often it frustrates me that music is let down by words. Words confine meaning to a finite system of definitions, even deconstructed language like freeform poetry or abstract verse can only clutch at profundity by grappling with semiotics. Music meanwhile, can express more often in saying less. It is the one gift we have as a species, that we can articulate things far beyond our rational comprehension and, unless the New Agers are right and there really is something more to whale song than underwater farting, music is our only truly universal language. It is the voice then that signifies, provides context and character to what we experience in song, and when I hear Francoise Hardy or Jacques Brel croak or croon their way through Parisian existential romance, I don’t know why, but it intoxicates me more deeply than anything sung by Sinatra or Dean Martin. Those unfamiliar lyrics, sung with passion and intensity, conjure fragments of memories, images, dreams that slide over you and sink with you. It’s like the best lyrics in pop music are the ones you misheard, or made up your own words and pictures to out of what you think is being said. That is what makes music personal to people, makes it part of them rather than artefacts floating about in our cultural biosphere. Maybe this is what made the French Pop of the 1960s so magical, because it sounded as though it dared to dream. This Gypsophile CD was sent to me with no prior information, a band I’d heard nothing about but upon hearing ‘'De Loin, Les Choses’ it reminded me instantly of the France that exists outside of the country’s mass export of irony filters. In between postmodern disco (Daft Punk), postmodern muzak (Air), and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, postmodern kitsch (Phoenix), Gypsophile reconcile the listener to the subtleties and charm of a uniquely cross-channel perspective on pop that died a death as soon as Ottawan were let loose on the world. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, God, this band could be the French Stereophonics for all I know (although to be fair the music is more reminiscent of Swell or Whistler, quality acoustic songwriting with some of the twee edges shaved off), but these delicate, autumnal hymns tap into the vein marked ‘timeless’. They sound as though they’ve been stored in a wine cellar for 30 years, left to mature rather than mould. Crack open a case of Beaujolais and toast the summer goodbye, for 45 minutes we’ve got the Champs Elysee to ourselves, and its dancing time.



Track Listing:-
1 Poeme A Lou
2 Le Conte Du Chien Italien
3 Naitre Un Jour Et Mourir Un Autre
4 Avant Qu'il Y Ait Toi
5 Ishal
6 Cette Ville
7 Les Demains Meilleurs
8 Mes Nuits D'avant
9 Les Regards A L'envers
10 Quand Sort Le 3
11 Rejoindre Les Lacs
12 Et Recommencer



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