In a hurry, she made her way past the booksellers, glancing at the ferries that were lazily floating down the Seine, turned onto Boul St. Mich and wished she had more time to take in the fresh scent exuding from the marché des fleurs, just about to close. She turned again to cut through one of the small streets of St. Germain, smiled when she passed the legendary chansonnier’s house, imagining what it was like being there a few decades ago, smoking and drinking and playing music day and night.
Only a few more corners, close to Jardin de Luxembourg, and she ducks into an inconspicuous doorway. No sign announces the venue, and the building is just as bourgeois and 17th century as those around it. But as she goes downstairs she can hear the crowd and feel the excitement. Yes, everyone is already on stage. The Magicien catches sight of her and winks. Then he turns, and with its characteristic sigh, the accordion stretches to begin its longing melody, the bass kicks in and before the drums set out to groove, she has embraced the mic and her airy voice fills the room.
L’Inconnue de Venise (vocals) & le Magicien aux Yeux Verts (guitars, keyboards) are proud to be playing with some of the world’s most distinguished musicians:
Brett Simons – Bass
Roger King Jr. – Drums
Rodney D’Assis – Percussion
Peter Adams – Accordion, Piano, Keyboards
Julian Coryell – Guitars (Le Vide et le Désir)
Rick Musallam – Guitars (La Femme de Loup)
From jazzy waltz over Pulp Fictionesque surf to loungy dreamscapes, Vieniste brings its own unique sound to French Pop, mixing accordion, baritone guitar, percussion under a fragile, emotive vocal with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and compositions. Let the debut EP take you on a ride; a full-length album is coming to conjure your senses.
Sometimes it’s hard to explain why we like the things we do. A movie or song is rarely enjoyable for logical, demonstrable reasons. It’s even common to enjoy things whose flaws or shortcomings are obvious. Who among us doesn’t have a favorite movie even though it may be corny? Artistic merit and entertainment value are not linked. For this reason it is frequently easier to explain disliking something rather than liking it.
This brings me to Vieniste and their self-titled EP. I don’t mean that Vieniste is corny or lacking artistic merit. But defending their aural goodness will be difficult because all four songs are sung in French. Four is, oddly enough, the same number of words in my French vocabulary. Bonjour, mon freir. Merde. That’s about it. Vieniste’s songs could either be the most astonishing poetry ever set to music or they could explain that parents just don’t understand, I would never know the difference.
What I do know is that singer L’Inconnue de Venise has a playful vocal style and an endearing Debbie Harry quality to her voice. “Le Vide et le Desir,” the first and probably best song, has a dreamy carousel music feel to it. The title translates to “Void and the Desire” (I know someone taking a French class) so the dream is not likely always a pleasant one.
“Un Mec” (“A Guy”), is slightly more rock style, think No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” but it still has the airy feel from the first track. It also has accordion, an instrument that is severely underutilized in American music. Don’t be frightened off by its presence. Vieniste uses the accordion as a backing instrument, it never carries the songs, it only bolsters and improves upon their sound.
For non-French speakers, Vieniste’s music and the quality of L’Inconue de Venise’s voice will carry them through this short set of songs. For those who can understand French, hopefully the lyrical comprehension only adds to the experience. And even if the lyrics are bad, there’s always a chance they will be so bad they circle around and become good. As for the sound of the vocals and the musicianship, that’s just plain good. The EP may only be four songs, but they are four songs without flaws.
Dennis Mersmann-MuzikReviews.com Staff
April 29, 2009
Questions or comments regarding this review? Email Dennis firstname.lastname@example.org