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Thread: Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM

  1. #1
    Grumpy Old Man Music Head's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Lancaster, Kentucky, United States

    Default Charlotte Gainsbourg - IRM

    released Jan 19th, 2010

    from the album - Heaven Can Wait

    YouTube - Charlotte Gainsbourg - Heaven Can Wait

    from all music

    Charlotte Gainsbourg may be better known as an accomplished actress than as a musician, but her singing career has also been significant. Around the same time she began acting, Gainsbourg also started singing professionally. At 13 years old, she recorded her debut, Charlotte for Ever, an album of songs written by her father, singer/songwriter/provocateur Serge Gainsbourg, that was inspired by the film he directed and in which they both starred. The infamous father-daughter duet "Lemon Incest" mirrored the sexually precocious tone of her early films, which included 1986's L'Effrontee (which won her a Cesar for Most Promising Young Actress), 1988's La Petite Voleuse, and 1991's Merci la Vie. She concentrated on acting during the '90s, appearing in movies as eclectic as Franco Zeffirelli's 1996 adaptation of Jane Eyre to 1999's La Buche, for which she won a Cesar for Best Supporting Actress. In the 2000s, though, Gainsbourg returned to music once again, performing the spoken word introduction to Madonna's "What It Feels Like for a Girl" in 2001 and lending backing vocals to Badly Drawn Boy's 2002 album Have You Fed the Fish?

    While appearing in projects such as Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep, she began work on her second solo album, enlisting Air's Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin as composers, Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon as lyricists, and Nigel Godrich as producer. The resulting record, 2006's 5:55, paid homage to her musical heritage and defined her as an artist and interpreter in her own right. It also went platinum in France, although an American release in spring 2007 didn't fare as well. Gainsbourg returned to the studio quickly, enlisting the help of another A-list producer, Beck, to help shape her newest batch of electronic pop songs. IRM appeared in late 2009, the same year that Antichrist — a controversial horror film starring Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe

    album review from times online

    With hindsight, it seems strangely inevitable that Lars Von Trier should have sought out Charlotte Gainsbourg as the lead in one of his films. When the time came (Gainsbourg starred alongside Willem Dafoe in the tour de force of loss and genital mutilation that was Antichrist), it seemed no less inevitable that Gainsbourg would accept. After all, when you have grown up with a celebrated agent provocateur for a father, only to have him die in your 20th year, you will surely find yourself drawn to the overtures of other famous controversialists.

    In France, of course, controversialists have never come more famous than Serge Gainsbourg. “Our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire” — that’s how President Mitterand paid tribute to the singer in the wake of his passing aged 62. Outside his own country, though, Gainsbourg’s fame never eclipsed his infamy. He was the dirty old man of Je t’Aime (Moi Non Plus), who appeared on a Gallic chat show and told Whitney Houston that he was, if you will, saving all his love for her.

    In dying when he did, Gainsbourg missed a belated wave of appreciation from musicians — Beck, Air, Nick Cave — whose output carried a debt to him. Thanks to the persona adopted by Jarvis Cocker on Pulp’s Different Class, Britain even had its own Gainsbourg for a while.

    Such illustrious fans would, of course, have needed no introduction to Charlotte, whose duet, aged 13, with her father on Lemon Incest topped the French charts in 1984.

    Surveying the collaborators on a 2006 “comeback” album, 5.55 — Air, Cocker, Neil Hannon — it was clear that a sort of redirected desire to pay homage had propelled them to her.

    She, in turn, would have felt comfortable among people who understood where she came from. A marriage of convenience, if you like.

    In working with Beck this time around, Gainsbourg can reassure herself that, like her mother Jane Birkin before her, she’s easing into the time-honoured role of muse to a maverick talent. It’s her mother, also, that the breathy tentative diction of the opening song Master’s Hands calls to mind. Halfway through, a soft release of strings effectively cuts the song loose from an oppressive cycle of bass beats and rubber-band plucking. If, here and elsewhere, an ambience of nervous intimacy prevails, perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising. Nervous intimacy is exactly what happens when someone you know primarily as a fan of your dad makes an album with you.

    On hushed acoustic fever dreams such as Time of the Assassins and In The End, that’s anything but a problem. However, when tenderness is supplanted by something more brittle, it’s harder to care. Her impassive intonations do nothing to enhance a lyric that suggests Beck was having a slow day with his William Burroughs fridge magnets.

    Seemingly inspired by the MRI scan that diagnosed the brain haemorrhage that almost killed her, IRM (as they’re called in France) divines a New Wave-y monotone from Gainsbourg over a bustling arrangement that clatters like medical instruments in metal trays. “Leave my head demagnetised/Tell me where the trauma lies,” she sings. In terms of detached literality, it’s the BUPA healthcheck rewrite of In the Army Now.

    We know that Beck can do better — but it’s only really on the final quarter of IRM that we hit a run of songs to truly pacify your attention. A muted anti-melody on the piano sours the soft-focus art-pop of La Collectionneuse to wonderful effect. No less magnificent is Voyage — a bilingual collision of piledriving percussion and blood-curdling string intrusions that offers up the album’s strongest candidate for something that might pass muster on a daytime playlist.

    Not that such considerations, you suspect, ever loomed large in the mind of Gainsbourg. With an acting career that stretches back over 35 films, little hangs on the success of IRM. So why do it at all? She can’t bring her father back. But by getting his famous fans to play Serge to her Birkin, she can get a little closer to him. Her good fortune is that, for exactly the same reasons, there’s no shortage of musicians willing to play along.
    “A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.”
    Will Rogers

  2. #2
    Session Musician Dementia32's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Charlotte, NC


    I mentioned this album back in December in the "What Alternative Music Are You Listening To?" thread, and I've had plenty of additional opportunities to listen to it since. It really is a strong album that's worth any amount of recommendation that I can give it. Is it perfect? Nah. Definitely worth checking out though. Beck fans will love it.

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