Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Waxy Buildup

Wax Tailor, Tales
of the Forgotten
Melodies, Decon

JC Le Saoût (La Formule) is a French DJ with a jones for vintage jazz and film noir, so I was expecting something akin to St. Germain. On his 2005 debut Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, issued Stateside earlier this year, that's what I got. Although the former hip-hop producer is less enamored with house and acid jazz than Germain's Ludovic Navarre, both downtempo denizens have much love for the flute (I share their affection). Granted, Le Saoût opts for movie/television samples over blues/R&B samples, but the neon-lit nightclub-meets-designer boutique vibe is similar.

As with DJ Shadow, circa Entroducing, or sartorial soul brother Moby, circa Play, these English clips make up the bulk of the vocals, although there are a few guests, like Charlotte Savary and the Others. To my ears, Savary sounds a lot like Beth Gibbons (and Le Saoût doesn't deny a debt to Portishead's cinematic sounds).

"Hypnosis Theme" (R-rated video alert!)

Sampled artists, meanwhile, include Doris Day, Woody Allen, Nina Simone, Keye Luke, and Q-Tip. The latter appears on "Between Fellows," in which Le Saoût strings together excerpts from dozens of rap recordings. As his biography puts it, the Kubrick aficianado "uses samples in his music as film directors use actors." Of course, Le Saoût isn't really directing these performances as much as he's editing them, but I can appreciate the analogy.

On the basis of Tales of the Forgotten Melodies, Le Saoût hasn't found his voice yet--there's a lot going on here--but he's filled his first long-player with so many strangely soothing sounds, I just can't deny it. Recommended to fans of the Avalanches and Alfred Hitchcock...and how many records can you say that about?

Endnote: Instead of commissioning a new score, Coline Serreau retrofitted St. Germain's Tourist for the soundtrack to Chaos, one of my favorite films of 2003 (for those who admired Michael Hanecke's Caché, Serreau takes a more female-centric approach to similar material). Tourist's propulsive rhythms elevate the entire scenario, especially the bravura opening sequence--a slow-motion car crash--which sets the complex story in motion.

For more information about Wax Tailor, please see his official website. Among his influences, Le Saoût cites composers Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, and Serge Gainsbourg. Image from Listening Pearls, video from YouTube.

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