Björk / Song Exploder

Posted on 07/01/2016


I’m as sensitive as the next person to the arguments of New Criticism, a movement in literary criticism that argues that any piece of literature should be regarded as an isolated aesthetic object, detached from the author, his or her intentions, the historical context, etc. And I believe that it is important to appreciate any piece of art or creative content in this way from time to time.

But I’m also a complete sucker for anything that gives a peek backstage. I love to watch or listen to documentaries, interviews or articles that lift the veil on what the artist actually intended, what life was like when the a work was created, who ordered it, how it was received at the time of its conception, and so on.

In the realm of recorded music there are several ways to get behind the scenes. The “Classic Albums” documentaries are an obvious example of how well the TV format works for showing how recordings were made. It turns out that radio is just as good. I’ve been a fan of the Song Exploder podcast for a while. I discovered the show as it happens to be a part of the same Radiotopia collective as my sister’s wonderful podcast “Strangers”. Song Exploder episodes are 15-20 minutes of an artist taking us through the creation of a song, and letting us listen to the individual tracks that make up the song, and the thoughts behind them.

Last year, one of the records I enjoyed the most was Björk’s Vulnicura, and Song Exploder rounded the year off with a nice christmas present: an insight with the lady herself into one of the strongest songs on the record: Stonemilker. Hearing her explain how she wanted the strings to give the impression of standing inside a monument of equilibrium is just great. Click here to listen to it.

François Rauber

Posted on 22/12/2015

I’m a huge admirer of François Rauber. He’s one of the most prolific arrangers in the classic chanson française, working with Jacques Brel from the 3rd album until the end, and collaborating with just about any French singer in the 1960s and ’70s. His arrangements are incredibly diverse, touching on just about any style, always with great taste, great sensibility to the lyrics, and great craftsmanship. Below is a very interesting interview from 1983 with Rauber, when times were changing and synthesizers and multitrack recording had taken over.

Here are some classic Rauber tracks:

Music and Mac in the 80’s

Posted on 14/12/2015

This one is for the geeks: a 30 minute Apple infomercial from 1988 about making music on the Mac, featuring Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Chick Corea, Tony Williams, and many others, as well as some unbelievable haircuts. This is the early infancy of the technology, and it’s a reminder of how revolutionary even the most basic functions were when they were introduced.

Bowie’s back

Posted on 20/11/2015

After years of rumors about his health, and the beautiful, but rather predictable “The Next Day” album from 2013, his Highness David is back with a brilliant 10 minute track and video that’s just so original and strange that it’s impossible to predict where it will go, and has you on the edge of your seat the whole time. Yet there’s plenty of melody and rhythm to hold on to during the ride. It’s inspiring that he can still create such effortlessly avantgarde work.

Louise Attaque 2016

Posted on 12/11/2015


Next year, I’ll be continuing my long-running collaboration with Gaetan Roussel as he teams up with his old band mates from Louise Attaque for a reunion tour, following the release of their upcoming album in January. After a ten year break, there’s a lot of demand for the group, and most shows are already sold out. I think it will be a great experience, as they have a lot of great songs in their repertoire already, and a lot of strong material on the new album. Tour dates here.


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