22 September 2005

sebastien tellier - "la ritournelle" (from the politics lp, available for purchase as an import here.)

okay, so maybe you didn't like the tatu single. if not, you would probably like this.

sebastien tellier is a friend of the boys in air and often looks like the french rick rubin. i'm not terribly familiar w/ his work, though i did see him a few years ago, as the opening act for the aforementioned air. it left little impression on me; i only gave "la ritournelle" a chance b/c of some stellar reviews.

it opens w/ a piano riff. the player, if one could see him, would likely look v. active, but also v. focused--not like chris martin, though, who tends to either plod or pound. it's like an incredibly pensive bruce hornsby (or what i imagine that would sound like); it's almost jazzy, but it's too scripted.

it is, except for about a minute of singing, purely instrumental. if it scored a scene from a film, this is the kind of scene it'd score. the opening piano and insistent drumming would play as the protagonist walked around an empty, well-lit room at night, not so much walking as pacing. this is the sound of a hammer striking a v. stretched nerve; this is music for a crack up.

as the strings enter, played by the bulgarian symphony orchestra, the protagonist takes to the street, the camera is focused in an extreme close up on his face, a face communicating v. little. it may be raining, but it probably isn't--the main thing is that it's dark. as the strings swell, he turns off the main road, into an alley. (this is city music, btw.) here, he breaks down, falls to his knees maybe, probably knocks over a garbage can and the ensuing clatter frightens a cat.

four minutes in and the vocal finally enters--norman whitfield, eat your heart out--and he brings w/ him an increased bass presence. the scene shifts, in a hard cut, to a crowded area, maybe times square, lots of people, lots of lights. the protagonist pulls himself together. he's bound to do some touristy thing, maybe, like f. scott fitzgerald, go to the top of the empire state building at last, try to put things in perspective by taking the long view. subjective camera shot of new york, w/ new jersey in the offing. a cut to the protagonist's bedroom, where's he's falling asleep, as the light and the music fade.

or something like that. comparisons have been made to "unfinished sympathy," which is totally inaccurate. that song was more than the sum of its parts, but those parts had never been combined in such a way before--indeed, most probably thought that it'd never add up to much. "la ritournelle," on the other hand, is fairly conventional, but no less moving and cinematic for it. one hopes, though, that, if it ever gets used for a film, it fares better than massive attack's opus ...

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