Friday, January 18, 2008
Despite having her 1999 CD, Chrominance Decoder, named one of the best 10 CDs of the year by the New Yorker magazine, I doubt April March is suffering from overexposure. That might change as her 10 year old song, "Chick Habit," has been resurrected for the Death Trip soundtrack. She released about 12 albums or EPs previous to Chrominance Decoder during the 90's, ranging from punky outbursts, and garage rock, to authentic replications of early 60's French pop music, while having a "real" job, as Elinor Blake (real name), doing animation for the Ren and Stimpy show and Pee Wee's Playhouse.
With Chrominance Decoder and the follow-up, Triggers (2003), Blake achieved a more mature style working with futuristic/retro French producer Bertrand Burgalat. He polished her newer songs with a subtle, intricate and sophisticated veneer of electronica, tinted by out of fashion styles of pop, as well as the discernible influences of jazz and classical music. April March's songs had always been wry and witty, but on these two albums she delved into deep territory, dealing with dysfunctional family systems, alcoholism, madness, rape, higher powers, and the social impact of television. If it sounds heavy going, it isn't. The music, arrangements, and Blake's vocal style, are all so captivating, quirky, and light that one can listen again and again, charmed by the experience as a whole, without actually listening to the words for meaning. Almost half the time she's singing in French, anyway. If you tune out all the ear-tingling details, and the sound of Blake's tiny, bird-like voice, and listen closely to the lyrics, it finally hits you that she's singing about some very dense and dark stuff. It adds up to a prismatic, funhouse version of pop music, where we recognize the structure but the details are askew.
I've admired April March's sense of style, which is that of a Seventeen Magazine co-ed, circa 1961:
(If that doesn't give you chills from the sheer delight of it, how long have you been dead?)
She has a new project out now with Steve Hanft, which is available to download from her Myspace site. April March is performing tonight at the Bowery Ballroom with Au Revoir Simone, a dreamy double bill of girly pop that was surely conceived in heaven, but sadly, I have to miss it :(
Que c'est triste.