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This collection, highlighting obscure underground post-punk and new wave from France was released on Tigersushi Recordings, the record-label arm of the Tigersushi website, devoted to cataloging and tracing obscure connections between underground, post-punk, dance and avant-garde music. Previous compilations from Tigersushi included K.I.M.’s superlative Miyage CD, as well as No More G.D.M., which together contained more leftfield classics and unjustly obscure artists than anyone could shake a stick at. So Young But So Cold, compiled by Volga Select, is a bit less generous with its treasures. Perhaps the chosen time period and geographical area narrow the field too much, forcing Ivan Smagghe and Marc Collin to include many tracks that have a hard time living up to “lost classic” status. However, the disc still includes its share of tasty nuggets, chief among them a pair of stunning tracks by a group called The (Hypothetical) Prophets. Like most people, I’d never heard of this early-80’s French new-wave group until this compilation. Their single “Person to Person” seems to have been influenced by The Human League, but takes off in its own idiosyncratic trajectory, lyrically and musically. Male and female singers describe their romantic fantasies in a monotone, proto-HipHop style: “I want a middle-aged, plump and cuddly, distinguished, hairy-chested, double-breasted, gray-templed, tall attractive, rich and active father figure.” This against a minimal rhythm-box beat decorated with analog detritus and electronic drones, with occasional Beach Boys-esque expansions into vocal harmony. The Prophets’ other appearance, “Wallenberg,” is a dark synthscape intertwining mutated vocals narrating stories from World War II, with frequent blasts of saxophone, eerily evoking the later work of The Legendary Pink Dots. The first track on the compilation “Suis-Je Normale” (“I Am Normal”) reminded me of Broadcast (or Broadcast’s forerunner The United States of America), with its minimalist synths and Jane Birkin-esque vocal delivery. Mathematiques Moderne’s “Disco Rough” has a raucous beat, but its chorus is unfortunately reminiscent of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s excruciating “Islands in the Stream.” The Metal Boys were an offshoot of underappreciated electro-punks Metal Urbain, but their track “Carnivale” proves that the talent didn’t come along for the ride. Charles de Goal’s “Synchro” bears an unmistakable resemblance to The Vapors’ hit “Turning Japanese.” Was Moderne’s “Switch On Bach” meant to be the French response to Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus”? It’s hard to say, but at least this collection ends on a fairly strong note, with a row of Kraftwerkian space-rock and proto-techno tracks. Best among them is Nietzschean scholar Richard Pinhas’ funereal, Tangerine Dream-influenced “Iceland,” a densely atmospheric foray into the ice-cold nether regions of arctic tundra. A more inconsistent collection is not likely to be found, but Tigerushi’s So Young But So Cold still has much to recommend.” – Jonathan Dean

“Ministry and Peaches, Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim – I hear all these and more as seminal influences here in this very listenable CD, a snapshot of an apparently brilliant little epoch in early French synth-based pop. What matters here is not the era but the songs, invariably good (whether your taste) and strikingly original and, moreover, very good-sounding by any era’s standards. The vocals are quite affecting, at moments ethereal, at times just so European and hot. There’s real fire in some tracks – a drum machine and a moog synth pattern CAN really rock out and be downright sexy, coming from the right person’s mind. That is the timeless triumph of the very good collected material on this disk.”

“I came across this CD by surprise, but once I found out it was released only in France on the seminal TIGERSUSHI label, I knew it was gonna be good – and wasn’t let down. A fascinating, eye-opening, jaw-dropping, and even highly-educational selection of the cream of the obscure, cult 70s/80s French electro/no-wave/synth-pop/punk movement – as compiled by BLACK STROBE’s IVAN SMAGGHE – I know a lot of music, but many of these bands/singles I had never heard of, and they’re all flawless in their own DIY way – if you like bands like The Normal, early Mute stuff, John Carpenter soundtracks, etc., this is for you

DOWNLOAD:
SO YOUNG, SO COLD: UNDERGROUND FRENCH MUSIC 1977-1983 (2004 compilation)
192kbps

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