Thursday, June 29, 2006
Noir Desir are a band for whom I have mixed feelings I'm never sure whether I like them or not. Let me explain in the early nineties when they were riding high in terms of popularity here in France our paths crossed for the firt time and I saw them headline a large festival in Montpellier. The only problem was that they followed Les Thugs who were at their prime with their wall of sound coming over like a hardcore version of My Bloody Valentine. As they say a hard act to follow and I can remember that I was not impressed and at the time considered them to be a poor French take on the Clash, and justly or not it was this first exposure that was to colour my views on them. At the same period I was working as a radio DJ, part of the idea was that as a Brit I was there to play Anglo indie rock, despite this I was on an obvious personal voyage of discovery concerning French music and so whenever I discovered something made in France that either got my feet tapping or my ears buzzing I was more than happy to give it airtime and this was how little by little I learnt to appreciate Noir Desir. I have many friends here who are give or take a year or two the same age as me, it has always pleasantly surprised me to see these males knocking forty going ape shit at parties whenever someone spins a Noir Desir disque, such is their hold on a generation!
The reason behind today's post is quite simple last week-end I was giving their box set 'En Route Pour La Joie' a spin when the following lines stopped me dead in my tracks "you know I killed my wife/now brother I don't even remember why". These lines are to be found on their cover of the Nick Cave song 'Long Time Man' which originally appeared on their 1994 live album 'Dies Irae'. Those not living in France won't understand my feelings: Betrand Cantat, the groups vocalist is currently serving a sentence in a French jail for the 2003 murder of his girlfriend, actress Marie Trintignant. Stranger still is that Cantat claims to remember little of why and how this tragic event occurred. Cantat had accompanied Trintignant abroad where she was filming, after an evening where the two had consumed large amounts of alcohol they had a heated dispute back at their hotel where Cantat pushed her causing her to fall injuring her head. The next day upon waking up Cantat discovered his girlfriend in a coma from which she never recovered. Talk about art reflecting life! The band would seem to have a penchant for dark songs a they have also covered 'Helter Skelter'. Despite not approving of what happened I would like to point out out that Cantat and indeed the band are far from being typical women beaters, and hold, for me, very respectable political view that are opposed to such behavior, for which they have often openly lent their support This just goes to show the thin line that we all tread.
Obviously the band are on hold at the moment, so a little bit of music from their older albums, probably my favorite song is the title track from their 1992 album 'Tostaky'. Now I don't know about you but I have always been a sucker for a killer riff and this song is built around one that is up there with 'Walk this Way'. After the said live album which was very much a document of the Tostaky tour that was so full of punk attitude the band came back in 1996 with what was to be their biggest album '666.667 Club', the track 'L'Homme Pressé' manages to dupe the listener with its funky almost baggy intro before plunging head first into something altogether more heavy.