ALBUM OF 2020: Victor Le Masne by Victor Le Masne
Updated: Feb 25
Encapsulating pioneering, chic elements and a myriad of musical components from the 80s, French composer Victor Le Masne produced a self-titled work of excellence and the album of 2020 in a hearty year of contenders. Chiefly due to the wild fashion and coloured powder explosion of brash over 30 years ago, it can be dismissed as an uncultured period. But the more modern music borrows its approach in this accepted resurgence, the more apparent it becomes that the originators of that age were startin' somethin' with longevity.
Born into a symphonic world, Le Masne studied at The American School Of Modern Music in Paris before offering his services to Air and Pheonix and then becoming one half of Indie Electronica duo Housse De Racket. After devising scores for a handful of films, the planets aligned, guiding Victor to release his debut masterpiece this summer. It is winning from the first note when opener Victor 84 receives the La Femme d'Argent plus sci-fi treatment. Gliding wordless vocals keep their rhythm to a prominent feature throughout the LP of electric drums.
Beloved Sumimasen Chérie is a bop that induced those happy hormones and soundtracked the lockdown jardin jamborees in the summer. Sung in its native tongue of French, like most of the work, it is of no consequence if you don't understand all prose, the song is confident in its sing-along and dance to status, also enhanced by the ringing of that cowbell. Ballad Procida, with Simon Arcan, slows the velocity adding thoughtful melody and seaside effects. It evokes a gentle dawn like state.
The spoken lyrics of Clair & Blue- Clear and Blue- a collaboration with Joseph Mount (Metronomy)- sit on syncopated beats and fierce sounds, as the song tells of a reoccurring dream. We arrive at English track RU4REAL parading its poppiness like a peacock, calling on greats like Janet Jackson and even New Kids On the Block for motivation. With key- changes and attention-grabbing sax, 'Whatever it takes for you to make it the top. You can make it, just fake it, don't you ever stop' is a mantra everyone, at times, can follow.
Juliette Armanet joins us in the provocative Valhalla where her voice expresses emotion, but not through any vocabulary. A carpet of stars in a purple sky points to Arabian nights for Qui suis-je- Who Am I- and its strings in addition to the unmistakable sounds of silk coated pianist Chilli Gonzalez. Instrumental Casino- accompanied by Basile di Manski- brings the sax back to the forefront in a repetitive romp to rival any Miami Sound Machine hit while Una Cosa Mentale is a arresting extensive number that suits the theme tune from a popular movie of the 80's, delivering us to the short and airy full stop Fortune Cookie.
Said to be a tribute to Cassius' Philippe Zdar, this uplifting gem is fitting for freeing the mind, letting it travel back and absorb the decade's vigour. Last week the EP of remixes, Nocturnes, was unveiled featuring artists the Picard Brothers, Alex Metric, Adrien Soleiman, Philippe Katerine, with Chilly G lending his hand again. In the caring, sharing land of electro, Victor also reworked Myd's Moving Men alongside Justice's royalty Gaspard Augé, which meant Myd then squared matters by adding a Masters At Work bounce to Sumimasen Chérie. Bravo in this testing time to bring such light and luxury to us, and from the exuberance of the debut, we wait for the next instalment from Victor Le Masne.
Article by Beverley Knight