Album of the week (December 15, 2019)

Sing Noël! – A European Christmas Revels (Various Countries) – 2011

Get into the Christmas spirit with this excellent compilation of some of the best European Christmas carols and discover some new favorites with 21 selections of stunning music, choral works, and carols from France, England, Spain, and the Middle East.

Performers include an adult chorus, a children’s chorus, renowned soloists and instrumentalists, and members of the renowned Sharq Arabic Music Ensemble.

Merry Christmas!

Album of the week (October 20, 2019)

Indila – Mini World (France)

Adila Sedraia goes by Indila. Her debut album, Mini World, went diamond and platinum in both France and Belgium.
This is very powerful pop material. After a few catchy tracks to warm up, she fully blasts out a brilliantly melodic mix of Middle Eastern and French pop, and manages to get a perfect balance between the two styles. The album is both sophisticated and accessible, with the music and the vocals mixing nicely. Very first solid album and a pleasure to listen.

Album of the week (August 25, 2019)

Danse Memoire, Danse by A Filetta (Corsica)

This album is a tribute to Aimé Césaire and Jean Nicoli.

From the liner notes:

«What can Aimé Césaire, a huge Martinican poet and playwright appearing in the Hall of Fame of the twentieth century, an important politician (Mayor of Fort-de-France and Member of Parliament for Martinique) have in common? trained in the great schools of the Republic and Jean Nicoli, modest teacher who taught in Upper Senegal (the current Mali) in the late 1920s before returning to Corsica to become one of the leaders of the resistance during the second World War ?
Both are islanders, attached to their native land, and men of refusal: they reject very clearly the colonialism and the sufferings inflicted on the weakest. One is the descendant of African slaves and the ardent defender of the concept of "negritude" that he invents, the other is revolted by the plight of the African people in the name of "progress" and "the civilization "of colonialism. Both passionately love Africa. 
Communists, they denounce the misdeeds of capitalism that crushes men and civilizations. When the time comes, they pledge against fascism and Nazism and tirelessly defend their ideas; "The idea, this unwelcome fly" will write Césaire in his "discourse on colonialism".
To his children, Jean Nicoli executed on August 30, 1943 by the fascist occupant, will leave these few admirable words: "... At four o'clock I will be shot. Have in front of you Papa happy and smile proudly in the street ... I die for Corsica and for the party. As a mourning you will both wear a beautiful head of More and a big red carnation ... ".

Album of the week (June 23, 2019)

Je Suis Une Île by Halo Maud (France)

Hailing from the French proggy, psychedelic and experimental pop scene that birthed Melody’s Echo Chamber, Moodoïd and cult label La Souterraine, Halo Maud’s ethereal songs flit between English and French language, focussing on notions of freedom and power through a wild and playful lens.

Right through the dream-pop sensibility and the swirling-synth psychedelia of Halo Maud’s debut album, something uncanny lurks. “I never did what other teenagers were doing,” she says, by way of explanation. “My father is a reverend but my mother rejected all religion, so I was always busy having a mystical crisis.” The record is rich with these contradictions, with the urge to be both precise and vague, wanting to be somewhere and wanting to run away.
The music also has a delicate balance between English and French. Maud Nadal grew up in rural Auvergne, in central France, and lives in Paris, but for years she wrote in English. “It took me a while to find my voice, to find my language even. I always listened to English music so when I started writing songs they were in English, too, and French came later. It’s difficult – everything sounds good in English, French is much harder.” That push-and-pull between the languages, where a song often contains both English and French, is another example of the stories lurking beneath the songs – “When I sing in English, the words float away from me straight away,” she explains. “When I sing in French, I feel something different, something more immediate, and I think the audience do too.”
These songs are ethereal, they seem to float above: “Sometimes I feel that the way time passes is about how you look at it. It’s about patience and perspective. I like to play with time, in the music, speed it up, slow it down, play it backwards. Sometimes things make sense when you put them in reverse.” She’s talking about her life (of course) as well as her album: “The first song and the last song are a pair, about the traces and sensations left at the end of a relationship.”
The whole record folds in the middle, in fact, the second half looking back at the first with a flinty eye. That opening track, ‘Wherever’, is a sweet tumbling love song – her voice is delicate and sweet, until you notice it’s also spooky and sinister. ‘Du Pouvoir’, the almost-jaunty second track about confidence and finding your place in the world, has an evil twin on side B of the record: ‘Je Suis Une Ile’ samples ‘Du Pouvoir’ but plays it backwards, like an apocryphal 80 metal hit, and adds an icy rage to the optimism of the earlier song. The whole flipside of the album is a wonky mirror, with playful loops and percussion and keys that are always about to slip from mischief to malevolence.