Vive la France
France's SXSW contingent spans African rap to glam industrial.
Wowing fans with her gorgeous and jaw-dropping melismatic singing, former Ekova vocalist Dierdre just released her solo One (Six Degrees), featuring the former Californian's nocturnal and danceable tunes, and a dreamy, deconstructed version of "Nights in White Satin."
Daara J is a trio of rappers from Senegal, West Africa, who won the BBC World Music Award last year. Influential to the Jesus & Mary Chain and Big Black, Paris' Métal Urbain was the first punk band to employ synths and electronic drums. Their appearance at SXSW 04 banged and clanged with élan. Synth rockers Phoenix were signed in the late-Nineties to the Paris-based Source label, and the funky-disco outfit occasionally backed labelmates AIR. Last year the band released two albums, Phoenix Live! ThirtyDaysAgo (EMI) and Alphabetical (Source).
Longtime musical director, arranger, and producer for Salif Kieta, Joe Zawinul, etc., Malian multi-instrumentalist Cheick Tidiane Seck's own band is composed of traditional West African musicians and North American/European jazzers, displayed nicely on his new MandinGroove (Circular Moves). Ayo is the daughter of a Nigerian father and German gypsy mother, and is currently making waves in Europe with her glassy reggae soul rap.
Drawing from early-Eighties art pop and bossa nova, the Euro-pop duo Nouvelle Vague have young female singers redo hits like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Too Drunk to Fuck." Fans of Liquid Soul and Groove Collective pay heed: Paris' noJazz mix hard bop with techno scratch to create danceable improv, and famed jazz producer Teo Macero twiddled knobs on their eponymous debut (Warner Jazz). Fleshwounds (EMI) is the debut album from former Skunk Anansie vocalist Skin. It's a softer affair then Skunk Anansie, but still showcases the singer's songcraft and her pipes.
Not to be confused with a Missouri band with the same name, the DeadSexy Inc. duo combine glam, electronica, and punk, and have recorded with Paul Kendall (Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, and Erasure). Blue Note just released Keren Ann's English debut, Not Going Anywhere, a collection of wraithlike tunes of love and disappearance. Don Nino, aka Nicolas Laureau, uses a host of sonic tools on his new album of urban folk, On the Bright Scale (Prohibited Records), including harmonium, banjo, toy piano, kalimba, melodica, and glockenspiel.
Along with Fabrice Laureau and Ludovic Morillon, Laureau's other project is instrumental NLF3 trio, which stirs Seventies jazz, Afrobeat, live samples, and experimental rock. Smashing prog rock, psychedelica, postmodern lounge, and punk rock together, the Paris-based Turzi has performed with RTX (ex-Royal Trux). Not afraid of overindulgence, the trio also draws inspiration from Star Trek and Steve Reich. Viva la France!
Ayo (Paris) www.ayomusic.com; Thu., 9pm, Tambaleo
France @ SXSW
The DeadSexy Inc. (Paris) www.thedeadsexyinc.com; Thu., 12mid, Tambaleo
Dierdre (Paris) Sat., 12mid, Tambaleo
Doubleman (Paris) www.doubleman-online.com; Thu., 8pm, Tambaleo
Keren Ann (Paris) www.kerenann.com; Sat., 11pm, Tambaleo
Métal Urbain (Paris) www.metalurbain.com; Thu., 1am, Tambaleo
noJazz (Paris) www.nojazz.net; Thu., 11pm, Tambaleo
Phoenix (Paris) www.wearephoenix.com; Sat., 12:30am, Antone's
Schwartz, Debris, Vott & Solo (Paris) www.metalurbain.com; Wed., TBA, Elysium
Cheick Tidiane Seck & LesTellems (Paris) www.cheick-tidiane-seck.com; Sat., 1am, Tambaleo
Turzi (Paris) www.recordmakers.com; Thu., 10pm, Tambaleo
Skin (Monte Carlo MONACO) www.skin.uk.com/site.html; Wed., TBA, Elysium