A true wildman of scatological zaniness and debased humor, Jean-Louis Costes is really in a class by himself when it comes to bizarre music and insane live performances. He strips naked, rolls in feces and then goes into the audience while screaming his indecipherable lyrics. Sometimes referred to as “king of sewer rock” Costes actually is quite the funny man and more reserved offstage.
Partnered for a time with Lisa Suckdog, Costes came to America to “rescue” her from GG Allin as documented on their LP together.
Perret only released three tapes I am aware of. All featured field recordings and they were blends supreme. Beautiful work.
M. Nomized is the musical project of Michel Madrange. For over two decades he has produced some of the finest keyboard and synth work in the underground. He has collaborated with others and continues to produce at an astounding clip.
Christophe Petchanatz had several different projects including Deleted and this one, Klimperei which he produced with his then partner, Francoise. Described occasionally as “naive” or “toy rock” this music is captivating and wondrous. He continues to do fine work today.
From Paris, a wonderful instrumental romp with some tasty guitars and oddball bits here and there. On the Camouflage label.
Punky ranting and highly impassioned energy highlight this French language assault. Not exactly rock music but definitely the spirit. On the interesting, Ensemble Vide, label.
Kelektrik was the project of Vincent Bondet. He inhabited an experimental electronic space and would often veer into the extreme minimal. Not harsh usually but also not easy listening.
X Ray Pop was the most fabulous home recording band ever from France. At the time, the duo of Doc Pilot and Dzaza Zouka spun light hearted takes on cabaret mixed with a bit of punk energy. They had many fine and fun songs and Zouka’s vocal delivery was delightfully sexy and engaging. Doc Pilot continues today but evidently without Zouka.
A crazy compilation of French artists shouting texts, some odd music, avant garde havoc and montage wonderment. Includes Costes and others.
One of the early classics of home recorded bedroom rock was this tape to the left by French musician, DZ Lectric. Bearing a strong personality and creative streak was this young punkster who demanded a listen with his eclectic urgings. A totally fun exercise in the “whatever I want to do” esthetic.
Toupidek Limonade “Il Y A Des Nuits”.Recorded 1984.
O. Adamcyzk was the main guy behind the French band, RWA. He had released another project, Psychologue, as well, with punky, violent dispatches that also show up here on this tape, “No Master” on the Ensemble Vide label, run by Laurent Boyer.
A superb tape of French underground released on the Dutch, Exart label. Not sure if you can read the artists but they include Costes, Klimperei, Dirty Husbands, M. Nomized, Brume, La Sonorite Jaune and many others. Variety, humor and the usual French tormented joie de vivre.
One of the most distinctive and formidable French underground experimentalists, Christian Renou was Brume. From collage onslaughts to textured atmospheres, his art was very unusual and unique. Quite prolific too releasing many tapes on various labels. This one on Realization from California was from 1994.
Texture rock employing occasional disturbing elements was the hallmark of this group from France, Servovalve. Their sound could be attractive too and the covers was a visual feast. From Paris. Bien sur.
Some real instrument and real time experimental music although I wouldn’t call it improv. There is a sense of composition and dynamics that sets this apart and makes it special. No vocals but loopy guitars and echoing percussion dominate the proceedings.
I believe G.P.U. was a one man project from France on the Cartel Experimental label that appeared in 1992. Doling out industrial style , erratic percussion onslaughts meshed with feedback and electronic whirrings, this tape had good sound quality which enhanced its overall patina. It certainly veers toward noise is areas but the instruments remain clear enough to be identified.
Retrocontrole was also released on Carel Experimental in 1992 but the artist is unclear. There is upright piano, angled and distorted guitar which play without regard for one another. Basically improv madness that could be The Roots Of Madness from 1971. So, is that punishment or reward?
Another excellent tape by French artist Christian Renou, Brume, this time on Old Europa Cafe which actually was an Italian label. Wonderful combinations of instruments and electronic meanderings done with good fidelity, taste and some kind of compositional sense. One of the premier underground French artists in my estimation. I’m guessing mid to late 90s for this release.
Originally released in 1988 on the Belgian, Corrosive Tapes label, French artist Christophe Petchanatz was the main man behind Deleted , one of his many projects. This tape was re-issued by Underground Productions in France sometime later and featured some dark instrumental passages, phased and spooky vocals and upright piano tinkling that he was known for.
Christophe Petchanatz as Deleted kindly consented to releasing a tape (“Soda”) on my Lonely Whistle in the mid 90s. As always, filled to the brim with a variety of delightful, sometimes psychedelic instrumentals heavy on keyboards, thundering bass and slippery guitar and imbued with a garage rock mentality.
More creative instrumentals from one of the best home tapers in France, Christophe Petchanatz. This particluar tape was released by the Italian, Snowdownia label, probably in the early 90s. Ethnic diversions, dark and moody inferences with a bouncy life shining through.
Le Foie, La Rate Et Le Gesier was a series of tapes released on the French, Ensemble Vide label. On #17 not only are there big names interviews ( translated in French as it proceeds) with Mudhoney, Richard Hell and Moe Tucker but also underground figures like Lord Litter, Andreas Bick and Pascal Comelade. Run by Laurent Boyer from Bordeaux, this label also produced many fine experimental tapes as well.
There’s no mistaking a Costes tape. The wildly overmodulated backing tracks of bizarre keyboards and seemingly out of sync drum machine set up the sung/screamed/moaned/ vomited out truly singular vocals of this French artiste. The hand colored cover of this late 80s tape gives it a particular feeling of underground raison d’etre. You want to clear a room? Look no further. One of my favorites of the Costes canon.
Sometimes lumped with Klimperei or Pierre Bastien, I find the music of Palo Alto to be a little more serious with less of the playful joie je vivre exhibited by those other French artists. I don’t know the name of the artist that was Palo Alto but I believe they are still making music as evidenced by a collab CD with Kilmperei ( “Mondo Cane”) a couple years ago. Lovely instrumental fare. C’est bonne. Released on the Old Europa Cafe label in 1990.
I believe I received this tape from Evidence from Nantes in the early 1990s. Their dark and sad songs were occasionally set in the avant garde while mainly working in the gothic, shadowy territory of the day. The lead singer reminds me a bit Robert Smith of The Cure, although while still anguished, is a little less dramatic. This is still a decent listen due to their unique arrangements.
Perhaps more “darkwave” than “gothic”, Corpus Delicti still inhabited a dank region but was less oppressive than many of their cohorts because of the space used in their arrangements. The vocals aren’t manic although they do become fraught with loneliness and despair. I believe this quartet released released this tape independently in the early 1990s.
I always felt that one of the best French compilations actually came out on the American audiofile label. This 1988 cassette featured some well known names such as Lieutenant Caramel, Etant Donnes, Pacific 231, Anne Gillis and Pierre Perret but also showcased some lesser known artistes like The Greif, Cri Primal, Eleve Modele and more. Ranging from experimental to field recordings this tape was an excellent example of the diverse underground French artistry of the time.
I believe n33 was a French group who banged out some industrial hammering rhythms with sometimes shouted vocals. The Hayoon Limit label was out of Paris and I think this tape came out in the late 80s. A beautiful transparency vellum cover made this one special.