Relishing Jean-Claude Vannier's Weird French-Pop Rarities
(out of 5)
If you know Jean-Claude Vannier, it's probably for his exquisite orchestral arrangements on Serge Gainsbourg's 1971 Franco-funk classic Histoire de Melody Nelson. Those who've dug deeper into the Frenchman's work should be familiar with Vannier's 1973 full-length, L'enfant Assassin des Mouches, which revealed in even greater detail the man's unhinged compositional creativity. (Seek B-Music/Finders Keepers' 2005 reissue of it posthaste.) The rich, angular musique-concrète/prog-pop elements that animated L'enfant Assassin surface periodically on Electro Rapide, a compilation of rare and previously unreleased material from Vannier's vaults. The 14 brief pieces here also encompass moody jazz; feral, tribal percussive thumping; understated, quirky funk; dementedly chipper lounge music; and the sort of suave, Melody Nelson–esque funk that would make the garçons in Air tremble in awe. Of course, Electro Rapide was never intended to be the unified masterpiece that is L'enfant Assassin, but it is a rewarding peek into Vannier's archives, proving that his outtakes outstrip most musicians' best efforts.