Celluloide - Numériques (1)
Synthpop, 8-bit Believe me when I say I was excited to discover I was reviewing this. A two-part compilation (this review covers the first half) by an as-yet undiscovered French electronic pop outfit. And I've always believe that the French (and possible some allied Belgians) have a 'way' with synthpop that the non-Francophone world can admire but not copy. There must be plenty here to get my teeth into. The promise of some chiptune influence was the icing on the cake. I can't get enough of 8-Bit soundwaves.

And yet several listens later, and I'm struggling for any opinion whatsoever about this album or this band. And that is a reviewers nightmare. Good or great albums give me a chance to wax lyrical. Poor albums give me something to tear apart in verbal terms. Good-but-flawed albums are the best of all, as they inspire some of my most original terminology. Albums like this inspire no such wordsmithing. The fact that I manage to dredge up several paragraphs nonetheless is testament to my commitment to the cause, but says nothing about the music.

In purely descriptive terms, what we have here is a female vocal synthpop band, with both French and English lyrics. The synths are strictly old-school analog style, with some lo-fi melodies that resemble chiptune recordings. The vocals are delivered in an garden-variety half-sung, half-spoken sort of way. And that's really all there is to it. Bassline throbs along. Melodies get played. Words get sung. Odd bit of ear candy. Move on. The fact that some of the songs on here are remixes and others are originals means little to a newcomer, they all amount to pretty much the same thing.

The nearest equivalent I can think of to this band are Client, that three-piece girl-synthpop band who were big in the mid-00's, in the era between electroclash and whatever style is was that Lady Gaga popularised. Record label backing and a devoted niche following got them some lucrative gigs and a couple of well-distributed albums, but everything I heard from them barring their first single (the catchy 'Price Of Love') left me cold and unmoved. Nice dresses, shame about the song. They were the band the word 'Meh' was invented for. And now Celluloide proved that this shoulder-shrugging was not a one off. At least they got the right label. BOREDOMproduct.

I did eventually reconcile why I didn't 'get' this band. Analogue synthpop is one of the easiest style of music to record. My own musical experiments have largely amounted to the style. And if you're going to get attention, you need some quirks or imperfections. The tinny drum machines of Clarke-era Mode, Andy McCluskey's pullovers and Geography-teacher-at-school-disco dancing, Marc Almond's riske undercurrent all drew attention from the simplistic nature of the music. Even the more recent bands heard on the Conzoom roster have something notable to set them apart. Celluloide just seem too pedestrian in comparison.

A few tracks made a marginal impression in the end. "This Aching Kiss" opened the collection well and set the bands mission statement with a mid-tempo throb and a dismissive subject matter that suits the languid vocal style. The extended mix of "People Like Me" is six minutes of charging bassline and chip blips, the most energetic track of the eleven here. And then I could pick any of the others. A track like "Ordinosaure" is a example of my disappointment. Despite some very obvious chiptune influence (taken from an Oric Atmos emulator, apparently), the end result is a rather turgid composition, lacking the shameless 'fun factor' that anything involving a retro sound chip should have.

That said, by no means are Celluloide a musical atrocity (I save such damnation for anything to do with dubstep). But it neither does it deserve praise. It's just another band for the synthpop landfill. If you used to be a Client fan, or used to own one of those Oric computers, this might be just the thing you're looking for. Everyone else can probably find something more interesting.

There is a second part to this compilation. When I can assemble some words that aren't a repeat of this review, you can read about it here.
3
Brutal Resonance

Celluloide - Numériques (1)

5.0
"Mediocre"
N/A
Electroracle
Released 2012 by BOREDOMproduct
Believe me when I say I was excited to discover I was reviewing this. A two-part compilation (this review covers the first half) by an as-yet undiscovered French electronic pop outfit. And I've always believe that the French (and possible some allied Belgians) have a 'way' with synthpop that the non-Francophone world can admire but not copy. There must be plenty here to get my teeth into. The promise of some chiptune influence was the icing on the cake. I can't get enough of 8-Bit soundwaves.

And yet several listens later, and I'm struggling for any opinion whatsoever about this album or this band. And that is a reviewers nightmare. Good or great albums give me a chance to wax lyrical. Poor albums give me something to tear apart in verbal terms. Good-but-flawed albums are the best of all, as they inspire some of my most original terminology. Albums like this inspire no such wordsmithing. The fact that I manage to dredge up several paragraphs nonetheless is testament to my commitment to the cause, but says nothing about the music.

In purely descriptive terms, what we have here is a female vocal synthpop band, with both French and English lyrics. The synths are strictly old-school analog style, with some lo-fi melodies that resemble chiptune recordings. The vocals are delivered in an garden-variety half-sung, half-spoken sort of way. And that's really all there is to it. Bassline throbs along. Melodies get played. Words get sung. Odd bit of ear candy. Move on. The fact that some of the songs on here are remixes and others are originals means little to a newcomer, they all amount to pretty much the same thing.

The nearest equivalent I can think of to this band are Client, that three-piece girl-synthpop band who were big in the mid-00's, in the era between electroclash and whatever style is was that Lady Gaga popularised. Record label backing and a devoted niche following got them some lucrative gigs and a couple of well-distributed albums, but everything I heard from them barring their first single (the catchy 'Price Of Love') left me cold and unmoved. Nice dresses, shame about the song. They were the band the word 'Meh' was invented for. And now Celluloide proved that this shoulder-shrugging was not a one off. At least they got the right label. BOREDOMproduct.

I did eventually reconcile why I didn't 'get' this band. Analogue synthpop is one of the easiest style of music to record. My own musical experiments have largely amounted to the style. And if you're going to get attention, you need some quirks or imperfections. The tinny drum machines of Clarke-era Mode, Andy McCluskey's pullovers and Geography-teacher-at-school-disco dancing, Marc Almond's riske undercurrent all drew attention from the simplistic nature of the music. Even the more recent bands heard on the Conzoom roster have something notable to set them apart. Celluloide just seem too pedestrian in comparison.

A few tracks made a marginal impression in the end. "This Aching Kiss" opened the collection well and set the bands mission statement with a mid-tempo throb and a dismissive subject matter that suits the languid vocal style. The extended mix of "People Like Me" is six minutes of charging bassline and chip blips, the most energetic track of the eleven here. And then I could pick any of the others. A track like "Ordinosaure" is a example of my disappointment. Despite some very obvious chiptune influence (taken from an Oric Atmos emulator, apparently), the end result is a rather turgid composition, lacking the shameless 'fun factor' that anything involving a retro sound chip should have.

That said, by no means are Celluloide a musical atrocity (I save such damnation for anything to do with dubstep). But it neither does it deserve praise. It's just another band for the synthpop landfill. If you used to be a Client fan, or used to own one of those Oric computers, this might be just the thing you're looking for. Everyone else can probably find something more interesting.

There is a second part to this compilation. When I can assemble some words that aren't a repeat of this review, you can read about it here. Jan 18 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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