BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979-85
Fillmore’s rather acerbic rant in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer finds him dubbing the French cruel and mercenary, selfish to the core, self-righteous and ever guilty of avarice. BIPPP: French Synth Wave 1979-85, a compilation of synth pop from the post-punk era, finds all those qualities on delightful display. On “Contagion,” A Trois Dans Les WC’s abuse of their poetic native tongue is like watching perfume being changed to piss. And the male and female vocalists on Deux’s moody “Game and Performance” are smug enough to induce a wince. Men pant heatedly, girls giggle orgasmically, whips crack—all while a sense of voyeurism pervades the entire compilation. It’s as if the listener is peering into an intimate music scene where artists genuinely believed they were superior to brethren across the Channel. Britain’s punks were cartoonishly arrogant. The French acts from this period weren’t arrogant, because that meant you actually acknowledged your audience; these artists toted far too much sharpened contempt for that. Aside from the occasional Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division aping (Vox Dei’s “Terroriste”), BIPPP is stuffed with enough vainglorious ingenuity to satisfy the most cynical, Fillmore included.