PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Château Marmont: 2008.2009.2010

If these Parisian floaty-synthy fellas wanna go far, they're gonna need a bigger boat.


Château Marmont

2008.2009.2010

Label: Chambre404
US Release Date: 2011-03-07
UK Release Date: 2011-03-07
Website
Amazon
iTunes

The American Château Marmont is the stuff of legend. The "Hotel California" itself was that hallowed place where John Belushi bought the Big Sleep, where Led Zeppelin hoovered the stairs with motorbikes, where F. Scott Fitzgerald had a total eclipse of the heart and where The Lizard King practiced his "Climbing 'n'leaping but definitely not dying". Girls and boys, it was an underworld of Dionysian delights and carnivorous calamity. A naughty playground for the rich and infamous where no-one ever got detention. The French Château Marmont on the other hand are four blokes from Paris who create tasteful electro-spacepop. It is imperative we make this distinction before we move on to avoid any further confusion or embarrassment.

The snappily titled 2008.2009.2010 bags up Le Paris Château's trio of EPs (9 songs, 4 mixes) to create the band's "Sort of, but no, not really" début album. Opener "Niburu" launches this puppy pretty comfortably. A frisson of the Valerie collective and the French touch, it's clean 'n sleek futurist electronica with that refined air of fromage du Français self-awareness. In fact, there's mucho influence of their Gallic brethren in Marmont's sound from the warm, analogue waves of Monsieur Jean Michel Jarre to the hazy dreams of Air, with a dash of Daft Punk's gentler side for good measure. As with most electronica, there's debt repaid to Germany's Kraftwerk too, most notably on Gesaffelstein's "The Robots"-tipping remix of "Heliochrome". Suffice to say, it's all ideally heard while floating in space after carrying out manual repairs to the outside of your shuttle but tragically forgetting to attach your harness. Admittedly such opportunities are scant but should you find yourself in that position you may agree. Until then "floaty synthy" must do. It's a soundtrack for life lived in slow motion.

The only problem with "floaty-synthy" is that one's mind swims out to sea and you find yourself thinking about everything but the music. Here it was three tracks in ("Monodrama") that I bid reality "Adieu!" and drifted into uneasy dreams and inane conversations with my brain. I started to ponder whether people dancing to this would probably "Have no faces and be wearing pristine white suits". That vision of future music as imagined in B-movies like Logan's Run, Westworld, and even Woody Allen's Sleeper. My train of thought then trailed through micro budget '70s space shows like Space 1999, Buck Rogers and The Tomorrow People. Would Metal Mickey have liked Marmont? Would they have sent him spinning around while hollering "BOOGIE! BOOGIE!"? I came to the conclusion of possibly. But doesn't this all sound suspiciously like incidental music destined for corporate videos or science documentaries? Put simply, 2008 became a metronome to fanciful thinking, a shiny wallpaper. I also, worryingly, started to play air bass around the room, particularly during "Heliochrome". It got worse. I wasn't playing said bass nonchalantly across my knees like Hooky but near my shoulders like Mark bloody King. And it was SLAP BASS. Curse you Marmont!

Such is the consistent similarity in the sound, the tracks simply melt into one until someone declares "FIN" and 3-2-1 you're back in the room. Too often songs feel like backing tracks waiting patiently to have the real melody nailed down by the neighborhood disco diva. "Diane" in particular is crying out for a "hands-in-the-air" makeover to realize its true vocation. Employing a mumbling vocoder simply isn't the same, these songs need life! LIFE I TELL YOU! There is a vocal on the semi-conventional "Anything & Everywhere" which is fairly skinny-tie-tastic in a "could have been on Duckie's walkman in Pretty In Pink" way. Ultimately though, even having heard the album several times, I couldn't recall to a judge how "One Hundred Realities" or "Maison Klaus" go beyond "floaty synthy your honour?". Most songs, pleasant as they may be, simply lack individual identity. A sea of blank faces staring at me, shuffling in mid-tempo, all clad in pristine, white suits.

All is not lost, though as there's some shiny in the floaty. "Beagle" is wide awake and jumping on the bed in comparison to its sleeping dog bedfellows. Damn, it nearly breaks a sweat. It's got actual dynamism with high bits, low bits, in-between bits and a squeaky horn riff you'll remember long after it has vacated the ether. Ladies and gentlemen, we are slam-dancing in slow motion. "Solar Apex" is plenty perky too. It's the special brand of dark, throbbing electronica Dario Argento demands when beautiful Italian women are being chased through tastefully lit streets by shadowy maniacs. Some of the remixes are interesting too, if primarily for the fact that they bring some fresh chaos to the mannered politeness. Gavin Russom's reworking of "Monodrama" is damn fine, serving a hip-hop funky twist which is both infectious and – praise be! - unpredictable. Finally, there's a quirky dub version of "Niburu" to wrap things up nicely with rolling bass, echo bursts and some much needed attitude.

Most of 2008-10 will sadly simply pass the world by. It's mainly expensive, tasteful elevator music. There are flashes of wonder beyond its white halls but mostly way over yonder within their dazzling remixes for Heartsrevolution, La Roux and Ladyhawke. This suggests Marmont need either better material or better toys. Either way more colors please. EPs are one thing, but an hour of the same scenery just won't float this boat. Ultimately I'm left praying some of the American Château will somehow transmogrify and corrupt by proxy our French Marmont. So far the main thing both Châteaus share is that it's recommended you don't stay too long with either. No-one has to die or, hey, even get maimed but y'know let's move a little closer to the edge. A little more insane in the membrane, s'il vous plait.

5

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.