Seen from Paris, blog about Paris
You thought Parisians are witty, arrogant, bitching about everything and anything, obsessed with food and culture, and always up for discussion? Well... you're perfectly right! And you're on the right page to check it out.
Suddenly, 5 kids launched a salvation bomb. With deep samples and bullet-speed incantations, Vieux Frères forces you to see beyond the Matrix and calls all of us to break free. Radical.
The following chronicle might be slightly frustrating, as it is impossible to describe Vieux Frères without talking about the meaning of the lyrics, and they are of course all in French, which most of you unfortunately are not able to understand. I only wish, by breaking it down to you, that you will be able to seize the energy of it beyond the lenguage, like a Sigur Ros or a Dead Can Dance song…
Created somewhere in 2010, Fauve describes itself as a moveable band, with 5 key characters. I haven’t been able to find excatly who is beyond the lyrics; I hope later on I will. The band is quite discrete and I never had heard of them until last Friday. Then, before the album was released, a mass communication campaign took place, and I saw several article about Fauve and how amazing they were. So I got myself the album, and gave it a try. A doubtful try, as I always beware of too much communication, which is usually suspicious.
On the first listening, I felt right at home. The intense logorrhea of the lead singer has rhythm, balance and poetry, and the mix of words chosen goes from educated constructs to street slang, which is definitely my way of talking. The overall tone is aggressive, revolted with a bit of sadness, a bit of crudeness, and, deep under the stanzas, an aeternal source of optinism. It reminded me of La Canaille, a French rap band that released of couple of years ago an outstanding effort full of rage and hopes. In some way, it also reminds me of La Phaze. Both of these groups I love.
But Fauve has something different. When the other bands I mentionned tug into Society and its shortcomings, they rarely talk about their own feelings. With Fauve, society is at stake, of course, but it’s not about society, it’s about you. You and your emotions. And in that sense, Fauve focusses on introspection and personal initiation through life. Fauve doesn’t want to change society. Fauve wants you to think beyond.
The repeating pattern is about how you forget who you are, because of your roots, because of your school, because you want a normal life, because you want to be hugged and kissed. But when you forget who you are, and therefore want to be/live like someone else, you cannot be happy. You lure yourself, and once your start to open your eyes, you fall into insomnia and despair, wonderling how it will be possible to last until the bucket is kicked.
Songs after songs, Vieuw Frères explores this basic alienation that is all around us, through the opening awareness of the lyrics. In “Voyou”, Fauve questions the label you get on your head by birth, and how that label eventually becomes you, in some pervert way, by presenting an instable stressed out character who loses its own respect while begging for redemption. The surprising Shubert’s Piano Trio N°2 sample gives a very interesting contrast to the exploding spoken words, while it might indicate a parallel with another helpless character, Barry Lyndon (I love to risk these kinds of assumption on which I only have intuition…)
In “Jeunesse talking blues”, first we’re dealing with a major poetry work. The addition of the word “blues” to different concept regarding the daily activities of teenagers and young adults created a sense of dizziness. For instance, talking about a basic Paris metro journey:
Hobo blues/every 7 meters/ What can I do?/semi-violence/cowardice/ Helplessness blues
The progression is both terrible and full of hope, as seems to indicate a possible remission blues/hope blues at the end. And that hope, unsteady per se, comes mostly from human cohesion.
In Rag #3, rag #4 and Vieux Frères, Fauve introduces some concept of awaken friendliness. The idea that a certain crowd, the Vieux Frères (old brothers) and the Belles (Beautiful ones) are the golden parenthesis, the Magnus Opus that allows one to survive in this ongoing alienation. There is something beautiful and mystical about this approach, as the key to happiness would always be there somewhere, but lost under the social constructs that shape us, yet the communion with these other humans creates the fuel that can make you go through one more day at the office, one more love failure, one more day of useless void. Until suddenly you break free and embrace your own reality and your own path.
Of course, more the form than the meaning denotes a pretty high hand education, and the posture of the rapper at the beginning seemed a little bit like an imposture to me. Until I reached the last song of the album: “Loterie”. That song is about the deal of cards you are given by birth, and the songwriter says that he would have loved to go to public school, and discover life another way. That is something we almost never hear, and especially in rap/spoken words songs. Most of them focus on the same socio-group, a mix of economical struggle and lack of recognition for people from the ghetto. Yet here, it’s a bourgeois statement. Maybe more a frustration shout. On how, finally, this demanding French education turned him into a soul bonsai. On how the path that others chose for him made him miserable. Little white boy issues.
But they echoed a whole lot in me, which is why this chronicle is way too long. I could litterally say I have written these words, because I have felt the exact same feelings, and lived through the exact same experiences in life. And I have come to the same conclusion, which is why I no longer work in an advertising company, but I show people around Paris, and I go hugs my Vieux Frères in the Temple in Black Rock City and I spend nights doodlings on walls. I have refused to be the killer they wanted me to be.
Fauve say they write and sing as an outlet to get them out of life’s vicious circles. As far as I am concerned, it forced me to do the same.
One last puzzling element, I learned this morning: The lead singer and I come from the same school. I guess it is time to question that part of my education…
Anyway, thanks for the music and the emotion. I’ll keep my heart and my soul open, vieux frères, and together, we will shine and change the world. (and no, I am not drunk 🙂 )
Here is a few sample of Vieux Frères
Jeunesse Talking Blues: Jeunesse Talking Blues