Saturday, 18 October 2008

FAREWELL MOON (epitaph musick)

This post is dedicated to Hector Zazou (11 July 1948 - 08 September 2008)

ZAZOU HECTOR

SAHARA BLUE

CHANSONS DES MERS FROIDES

Original Issue: 1992 Made To Measure (MTM 32) & 1994 Sony Music (COL 477585 2)

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Margot-meter: 4 moons / 5

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Tracklistings: Sahara Blue and Chansons Des Mers Froides

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from Wikipedia�:

Zazou first came to international attention as part of the ZNR duo with Joseph Racaille, where both played electric keyboards. Their 1976 debut album Barricades 3 was notable for its "strong Satie influence, stripped to minimal essentials, everything counts".

Long-time collaborators include trumpeter Mark Isham; guitarist Lone Kent; cellist and singer Caroline Lavelle; trumpeter Christian Lechevretel, who has appeared on all of Zazou's albums after Sahara Blue; clarinetist and flutist Renaud Pion, who has appeared on all of Zazou's albums since Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses; drummer Bill Rieflin; and Japanese recording artist Ryuichi Sakamoto.

His discography demonstrates his affinity for cross-cultural collaborations, and incorporated modern techniques and sounds in re-recordings of traditional material. He was influenced by Peter Gabriel's album Passion: Music for The Last Temptation of Christ in his fusion of musical polarities (traditional and modern, electronic and acoustic) on his own album Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses.

Zazou regarded his work during the 1980s as his time of apprenticeship in the studio. On his 1986 album, Reivax au Bongo, he experimented with fusing classical vocals with an electronic backdrop. On his 1989 album, Géologies, he combined electronic music with a string quartet.

The albums that he has released under his own name from the 1990s onwards are usually concept albums that draw from literary or folk sources and revolve around a specific theme. The collection of songs on each album assemble contributions from a diverse and global range of pop, folk, world music, avant-garde, and classical recording acts.

Zazou's 1992 offering, Sahara Blue, was based on an idea by Jacques Pasquier. Pasquier suggested Zazou commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of author Arthur Rimbaud by setting music to Rimbaud's poetry. Contributions included spoken word from Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Dalcan and music by Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance, Tim Simenon, and David Sylvian. He even adapted a traditional Ethiopian song.

In 1994, he released the album Chansons des mers froides (called Songs from the Cold Seas for the anglophone market). The album was based on ocean-themed traditional folk songs from northern countries, such as Canada, Finland, Iceland, and Japan. It featured vocals by pop and rock artists such as Björk, Suzanne Vega, John Cale, Värttina, Jane Siberry, and Siouxsie Sioux in addition to recordings of shamanic incantations and lullabies from Ainu, Nanai, Inuit, and Yakut singers. Musicians included Mark Isham, Brendan Perry, and the Balanescu Quartet. A cameraman accompanied Zazou on the project and they shot and recorded in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Japan, Scandinavia, and Siberia. The single "The Long Voyage" was the only song to be an original composition from Zazou. He wrote it in gratitude to his record company Sony who gave him complete artistic liberty. Performed by Suzanne Vega and John Cale, it was released as a single in 1995. The single featured remixes by Mad Professor as well as Zazou himself.

His 1998 album, Lights in the Dark, showcased ancient Celtic music sung by Irish singers.

Zazou's collaborative 2000 album 12 (Las Vegas is Cursed) with Sandy Dillon was regarded as a financial and critical failure. In the book "Sonora Portraits 2", which accompanies the CD Strong Currents, Zazou says that 12 (Las Vegas is Cursed) was his most elaborate album. He describes it as a work of black humour and regards his instrumental composition "Sombre" on the album as one of his best songs ever.

Strong Currents was released in 2003 and featured an all-female vocal cast which included Laurie Anderson, Melanie Gabriel, Lori Carson, Lisa Germano, Irene Grandi, Jane Birkin, and Caroline Lavelle. Musicians included Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dennis Rea, Bill Rieflin and Archaea Strings. The album took six years to complete.

In 2004 Zazou released a companion CD of sorts, L'absence, which included instrumentals, many of the same female vocalists that were featured on Strong Currents, and one male vocalist, French singer Edo.

Zazou has recently been a member of the musical collective named Slow Music. The lineup also included Robert Fripp and Peter Buck on guitars, Fred Chalenor on bass, Matt Chamberlain on drums, and Bill Rieflin on keyboards and percussion. He contributed electronics to the group's music, and much of his recent work, including a soundtrack for Carl Théodor Dreyer's silent film La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc and the multimedia collaboration released as a CD in 2006, Quadri+Chromies, has focused on electronic sounds produced on computers.

A number of recent projects are documented on the Music Operator interactive multimedia web site, which graphically documents his recent collaborations while in the background his recent music plays. In january 2008 Hector Zazou released his newest album, Corps électriques, featuring "one of the original riot grrrls" KatieJane Garside, Bill Rieflin, Lone Kent and fusion jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr. said...

Someone else posted Zazou's 'Sahara Blue' before. I responded in the comments sections w/ some back ground on the cd which originally had a couple of different tracks featuring David Sylvian that were later replaced w/ a couple of tracks featuring Dead Can Dance. see tread for details

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=1945320380679723406&postID=1985257519198308634

Anonymous said...

Zazou will be missed...
He's always been a very interesting composer, travelling all around the world to discover new sounds.

bikefridaywalter said...

Another gem, Margot! I can't believe the diversity of people Hector worked with! Rieflin to Sakamoto! Very very impressive.

gareth said...

Dear Margot, thanks for introducing me to this wonderfully moonstruck artist, I think that I'll go shopping now: would you recommend any other of his albums in particular?

Margot said...

Sorry Gareth,
with the exception to the albums posted, I've no knowledge of Zazou's output.

Could anyone help on this subject?

Duck said...

Both of these are excellent (Chansons is my fave). I also recommend Reivax au Bongo for the three jaw-dropping tracks with vocalist Catherine Renault (I think that's her name).

I would certainly like to hear Les Nouvelles Polyphonies Corses if anyone's got it...

Anonymous said...

Thank you!! It will be listened to.

jan

gareth said...

@Duck: thanks for the tip, will check it. @Margot: thanks again for directing my attention to this artist!

Mr. said...

Re: David Sylvian's contributions to 'Sahara Blue'
from Wiki...

In an effort to divert his attention away from the rancorous aftermath of Rain Tree Crow, Sylvian took up an offer from Hector Zazou to participate in a musical tribute to the work of 19th-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Sylvian was originally slated to read text to one of the pieces. Sakamoto and Fujii also took part in these recording sessions and gradually Sylvian's involvement grew to include further vocal, guitar and keyboard contributions, as well as composing brand new material for the project. Zazou and his record label, Made To Measure, then made the strange decision to list Sylvian under the pseudonym of 'Mr. X,' rather than requesting the necessary permission from Virgin to use Sylvian's extensive contributions. When the album, titled Sahara Blue, was finally released in 1992, Virgin filed a cease-and-desist case against the Made To Measure label, resulting in the exclusion of two tracks that featured Sylvian's vocal from any subsequent copies of the album that would be produced. Sylvian and Fujii separated shortly after the sessions for Sahara Blue.

Duck said...

More Zazou here: http://justanothergarden.blogspot.com/search/label/Hector%20Zazou - including Nouvelles Polyphonies!

Duck said...

More Zazou still: http://unavisenpassant.blogspot.com/search/label/Hector%20Zazou

Duck said...

... and here's Reivax: http://01fragments.blogspot.com/2008/09/hector-zazou-reivax-au-bongo-fra-1986.html