To download I / III album biography, please click here
Mendelson's career has spanned over fifteen years and the release of five major albums, during which time we have got used to them bringing out landmark records. However even that didn't prepare us for Bruit Noir, the first side project from Pascal Bouaziz and Jean-Michel Pires. This album is a provocative, incandescent work, a true maelstrom of screaming poetry and hallucinatory music which is like a liberating, jubilant scream.
Jean-Michel "Mitch" Pires, one of Mendelson's two drummers for several years, is the instigator of this adventure. Pires, one of the best musicians of his generation – the magazine Magic says so and we agree –, has played with artists as diverse and important as Bed, The Married Monk, Bosco, NFL3 or… Michel Houellebecq. He is more than a talented accompanist though; he is a fully-fledged creator as his personal projects, Headphone and Mimo The Maker, prove.
After inviting Pascal Bouaziz, Mendelson's singer, onstage to add new lyrics to one of his songs, Jean-Michel Pires asked him to record a track for one of his albums, just to see how it worked out… They recorded fifteen songs - more than enough for an album. The idea behind the record was that Jean-Michel would record all the music and then Pascal would get on the mike and improvise without too much prior thinking. A kind of spontaneous prose, as advocated by Kerouac and Ginsberg, or stream of consciousness… or even an interior monologue. Which could also explain the name of the project.
While certain scientific sources claim "bruit noir" (or black noise) to be the remains of the big bang, according to Pascal Bouaziz it's above all the noise you hear in people's heads "if you get really close up ".
Whatever the case, the Bruit Noir which results from this experience is noisy for sure but also extremely brilliant. And black of course - but not just - or maybe in the same way as humour can be. Just like the famous black humour Mendelson have cultivated for a long time now ("Seul au sommet", "J’aime pas les gens", etc.) and which certain aficionados may have missed on the group's impressive fifth and last album – to date – released 2013.
What do we hear throughout the record's ten tracks? "Songs"? To some extent yes because sometimes there is a certain structure or a chorus. The whole record is carried by Pascal Bouaziz's beautiful voice with its gentleness which we can never insist on enough and which is almost surreally out of kilter with the rest of the sound. But there is nothing which we might have expected or which we can grasp onto and above all nothing really ever heard anywhere before. For those who would kill for a reference point, it's going to be tough. To help them out a little, perhaps we could suggest Alan Vega and Martin Rev's Suicide for the hypnotic, repetitive side although less wild. Then again…
Musically, Bruit Noir can be considered minimalist or rather conceptual. Jean-Michel Pires set himself one simple restriction - to only use percussions and horns. This counts for a lot though and from the post-punk atmospheres à la PiL or The Creatures of certain tracks to soaring free-jazz elsewhere, we are in unknown territory dense enough to get completely lost in which is just fine.
The record kicks off strongly with "Requiem" and its military drumming, strident horns and this haunting voice drowned in effects which fulfils the ultimate fantasy - to write your own funeral oratory! When listening to this album, you often find yourself saying "someone had to dare to do that" or rather "that needed to be done!" Along those lines, "Hats off!" but also "someone had to get to work on this!" and Pascal Bouaziz did just that.
He unfolds lyrics which are not afraid to say what we all have in the back of our minds (our own black noise) or of politically correct self-censorship. It's liberating to think that someone else thinks we are all "surrounded by idiots" or that a lot of people need to be got rid of (almost everyone except yourself in fact). You hear him say that he'd like to live "in the provinces, ten minutes from the town centre" and then add "Why would you go to the town centre? There's nothing there". And admit that "I watch the clouds, it's beautiful, I'm really… an idiot". But let's not reveal more because one of the pleasures of this album lies in discovering these lyrics which hit just as hard as the music. It’s a real pleasure to be shocked by tracks you'd like to have written yourself because they are so strong, funny and obvious ("Securité Social", "La Manifestation", "La Province"), tough and lucid ("Usine", "Low Cost", which is strangely prophetic having been written before the crash of the A320 in the Alps) or just simply poetic and personal ("Je regarde les nuages", "Joe Dassin", "Joy Division" which ought to be a hit in a better world). And then there is the final devastating track, "Adieu", poignant and deeply troubling, which carries on the tradition of autobiographical childhood confessions which Pascal Bouaziz already got us used to with some of his greatest chansons ("Par chez nous", "1983 (Barbara)")… Everywhere, intelligence is mixed with beauty, violence with tenderness, rage with despair. And when we are full of the record by the end, we want to listen to it all over again.
Of course, when referring to this album, people will refer a great deal to Mendelson because it is similar in style but also has something more. It is strangely accessible with a certain twisted lightness and energetic freshness which probably derive from improvisation. In any case, we will hear more from Mendelson no doubt. Bruit Noir is only one of the first of the group's side projects and many more are on the way - Pascal Bouaziz's first solo album of haiku songs, his first book of poems, Passages (to be published by Le Mot); a new Mendelson album (covers of political songs by artists like Robert Wyatt, Sly Stone, The Pop Group and Jean Ferrat !) And all this in 2016? Give it a rest!
Ah yes, there will also be sequels to Bruit Noir because three episodes of this very special series are planned and all with a strong underlying theme and musical restriction (minimal electronic music will be involved in Tome 2). Of course we will also see them onstage.
Poets work hard. So much the better, the world needs them. You, me and everyone who doesn't know it yet - we all need artists like Bruit Noir. More and more.
Stan Cuesta (Rock &F olk, Mojo, Rolling Stone)
To come :
29/10/16, Nantes @ Soy Festival
16/02/16, Petit Bain @ Paris, w/ Michel Cloup, Françoiz Breut, Perio
22/02/16, L'antre Deux @ Lille
24/02/16, Le Sonic @ Lyon
26/02/16, Bibliothèque Bonlieu @ Annecy, Festival Hors Pistes
07/04/16, La Bobine @ Grenoble
09/04/16, Rockstore @ Montpellier
20/04/16, Brest @ La Carène (Club)
27/04/16, Reims @ Asso Oxal' Art
06/05/16, Cannes @ MJC Picaud
04/06/16, Allones @ Peniche Excelsior
03/07/16, Rennes @ Tombée de la Nuit
09/07/16, Tournan en Brie @ La Ferme Electrique
to download I / III press release (fr), please click here