Do you remember the time when vinyl records were mainstream, not a niche? Then you might also remember the excitement of browsing through rows upon rows of records in your local record bar. I do, I remember that time, the smell and sounds of years gone by.
Well, vinyl may have become less relevant, music, however, its significance, its function as an art form has remained unchanged. And, it is pleasant to be reminded of that fact, every now and then.
Picture this... summer 2019 or rather autumn, Paris, it is drizzling outside, but the temperature is still agreeable. In a backstreet, somewhere off the beaten tourist track, there’s this record store. It used to be on the main street in an era gone by. Not anymore, yet it still resists the Zeitgeist and against all odds manages to stay afloat.
Legacy, rows after rows of carefully preserved original releases, re-issues, 12”, 7”, 10”(!), some second-hand material and new releases in an ever-increasing body of new material. This store has survived the digital media onslaught, catering to an audience that hasn’t forgotten and to a younger generation that is still curious.
In my mind I enter this store, as I remember visiting similar stores, curious to hear sounds I had never heard before, looking for the meaning of life.
More often than not I would buy records at face value. Looking at the artwork, the song titles, the artist. A strange kind of chemistry would occur. An odd stirring of the mind. It was like the record was musing to me “It’s alright, buy me, you won’t be disappointed” And I’ll be damned if it did.
I was hardly ever disappointed and this awkward musical exploration opened up many new and exciting avenues in my musical kaleidoscope.
“Eponyme”. I didn’t find this album in a record bar. It came to me in digital form via an email in my inbox. Louis Ville? Never heard of… Is that his real name? eponymous to Leonard Cohen as the teaser in the email implied? 'Hallelujah' is a little bit too much praise for me, no matter what the rest of mankind is saying. However, the artwork intrigued me. Plain and simple. Direct, stylish.
I listened to a couple of samples for a very brief moment and I was sold, sealed and delivered. Back then I would rush back home, strip the plastic foil, and put the record on the turntable with the greatest caution and anticipation. Not so in this digital era. But my mind started to wander as I listened more and more to the tracks.
I picture a bar, next to this Paris record store, or maybe somewhere in the vicinity. A bar or a lounge rather. Smokey air (if that is still possible), soft lighted, filled with just enough people to not call it empty. Soft toned conversations. Cognac, perfume, the distinct odor of Gauloises cigarettes. People listening to live music from a local Jazz ensemble. Louis Ville, Quartier Latin, Paris, 2019.
Combien de roses trop fanées, Combien de lunes à t’espérer. A smokey voice - not unlke that of Leonard Cohen - ponders.
The ensemble plays on. Acoustic instruments. Music made by musicians. No samplers, No fused modernity. A very natural, distinct, and direct sound. Les Negresses Vertes? It’s not really Jazz. It is Jazz infused Pop. It’s not LNV, maybe it is my lack of proper reference. Acoustic clubbing?
Tu illumines, tu irradies, les pièces noires meme les taudis. Tu réchauffes les cœurs brisés d’une caresses d’un alizé. Sans meme demander un mot. Poetic, melancholic, dark with a sparkle of hope, love. Nick Cave-esque.
As my mind is desperately trying to make sense of the patterns that are being rendered, my soul immerses in melancholy. France has changed. It’s no longer a country of mere unbridled multi-cultural bliss. Voilà l'été!
Réfléchis de temps en temps
Plonge au cœur de ses tourments
Change de corps plus souvent
Peut-être sauras-tu à temps
No, too much has happened, as I take a sip of my cognac. Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan, Les Vestes Jaunes. Art reflects society.
As I leave Louis Ville and walk down the streets of Paris towards my hotel, I decide to let it go. Instead of trying to frame, ‘eponimize’, this recording, I will take it ‘as is’: a collage of deep thinking, deep feeling, and deep music. I will allow myself to be immersed in the melancholic waters of “Eponyme” as if being in Paris on a drizzly autumn day.
LOUIS VILLE DISCOGRAPHY : 2000 : HÔTEL POURRI 2003 : UNE GOUTTE 2007 : À CHOISIR 2011 : CINÉMAS (Balandras/L’autre distribution) 2012 : CINÉMAS DELUXE ÉDITION (Balandras/L’autre distribution) 2015 : LE BAL DES FOUS (Balandras/EPM/Universal) 2019 : ET PUIS DEMAIN… (Balandras Editions) 2019 : EPONYME (Balandras Editions)