FRáNçOIS & THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS
Dividing a vinyl record between a Sea Side and River Side betrays an obvious feeling for all things liquid. On his last album, 'Plaine inondable' (2009), Fránçois sung "Be Water," a delicious and watery song backed up by a secret Basque choir. As frank as the smile given by Jean-Pierre Léaud at the very end of '400 Hundred Blows' when he arrives at the sea for the first time, Fránçois’ music confronts reality and the elements which surround it lightly.
Being the first Domino French signing, Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains are ready to spread their wings over indie pop’s vast international landscape. Open and extremely sensitive, these twelve songs display graceful and surprising arrangements, with their watercolour-like melodies.
With vivid looks and a slender body, Fránçois builds up castles in Saintonge with Moroccan mountains, British phlegm and sturdy friendships. After seven years of passionate gigs and road trips across Europe, Fránçois & The Atlas Mountains convey a magnetic presence on stage. A deep sense of lightness and sincerity sets in as voices, keyboards and African percussion blend in an instant pop.
An open collective, Fránçois and The Atlas Mountains has become over the years, a four-piece band. Besides Fránçois who gives the band its name and soul, Amaury Ranger embodies its vibrating body thanks to the sheer intensity of his percussive skills. A Charente activist in his own right, he’s also the leader of the exuberant and promising Uncle Jellyfish. A new recruit, Scottish Gerard Black made a name for himself playing with Bill Wells and Findo Gask before joining forces with the band and leading an underground dolce vita in Bordeaux. Another Bordeaux stalwart, Pierre aka Petit Fantôme is a local musical treasure, be it under his own name, or along with The Crane Angels or Monsieur Botibol.
A mix of Italian and Bristolian, 'E volo love' stands as a superb palindrome of a love supreme flying away. These twelve songs convey a strong sense of longing and an emergency of feeling, slowly calming down once these tracks settle with subtlety in our minds and individual memories. Written between Bristol, Bordeaux and Saintes and weathered on the road and polished in Dakar they reflect a strong bond between the band’s members and their relatives.
Out of the blue but into the wild, "Azrou" conveys some laid back nostalgia with its sturdy bass line and its inventive percussive work. Gazing at the countryside, "Cherchant des ponts" invites Françoiz Breut for an elegant duo with feathery drums. More urbane, "City Kiss" reminds one of The Field Mice and The Pastels heyday, watercolour bands of an intimate pop expression. Liquid, "Edge of Town" mixes African percussions with some kaleidoscopic vocals. As watery but slightly more nervous, "Piscine" is an old song, about lost afternoons spent in small town public swimming pools. Dreamy as it can be, "Bail éternel" uses Guy Debord’s famous palindrome : "In Girum Imus Nocte Et Consumimur Igni" ("we spin ourselves around, through the night and we consume ourselves with fire"). This outstanding track is also a homage to writer Yann Apery’s 'Diabolicus in Musica'.
More physical and less spiritual, "Muddy Heart" and "Strong Pair of Solid Arms" with their vintage keyboards display the sheer energy one can feel watching a Fránçois and the Atlas Mountains performance. Love is always the drug, as evidenced by "Slow Love" and "Do You Want To Dance?," which go deep through the hits and misses of a romantic relationship, a genuine green ray of light, the coveted light reflected in the eyes of your beloved one.
Recorded live in an old wooden dance hall of Saintonge, the backbone of these tracks stresses the instinctive nature of the recording. A sensitive mix, courtesy of Jean-Paul Romann (Tinariwen…), adds a true sense of intimacy and closeness with the listener. Airy and unruly, these chansons run down green hills, diving into an Atlantic horizon, bare foot in the grass, a big and sincere smile across one’s face, eyes lost in the sunset. - Florent Mazzoleni, Bordeaux spring 2011