Camille – ILo Veyou (EMI)

Another ecstatic tumble down Camille’s Music Hole… 

Experimental French artist Camille Dalmais made a name for herself as part of French indie outfit Nouvelle Vague and then independently with her interesting layered vocals, body percussion and idiosyncratic concept albums. 2005’s Le Fil, the album which first brought her wide solo critical acclaim, is a collection where each song is connected by a musical ‘thread’ that runs through the background from beginning to end. According to Camille, many people returned the record, at first believing it to be a fault with the recording. Bi-lingual album Ilo Veyou more closely resembles French Le Fil than the more recent, predominantly English 2008 Music Hole. But as ever, Camille takes us somewhere new with it.

 

Mostly dispensing with the human beatbox percussion of previous albums, Ilo Veyou is populated by gentle guitars, unexpectedly subtle and jovial hints towards opera and of course her distinctive woops, clicks and cries in both English and French. One cannot help but feel she uses language like another instrument, switching between the two tongues when the song demands it, bringing with it optimum affect. The playfully Baroque string arrangements are never allowed to make the record sound like a conventional pop album with typical classically infused love ballads. Indeed, on love songs such as “Wet Boy,” all we hear is a guitar and a saddened echo of a voice, as though from the nave of a cathedral. And whenever we fear it might tip over into the expected or the melodramatic, a shout or a minimalist vocal lilt reminds us that while she might be charming, Camille is not conventional.

 

What I’m really left with, after Track 15 fades away, is the amazing energy Camille has infused the album with; each song bursts with sonic excitement at just being able to do it, to experiment and to make music. Her inventiveness and sense of fun is almost tangible on tracks such as cheerful nursery rhyme “Message” (which ends in a perfectly timed fart) and “Bubble Lady,” with its vocal riff of male and female voices making bubble-popping sounds. “La France,” an ironic Edith Piaf parody, only confirms that Camille is not afraid to joke as part of her experimentation.

 

“My Man is Married But Not to Me” is a track that might have easily fitted in on Music Hole, in English, with its pounding rhythm and aggressively worded sentiment. It is certainly a loud track on a predominantly quiet album. But, with its comically dramatic violins and mocking, childlike voices it sits here as another facet of Camille’s highly original take on contemporary music. It, like many of the songs, is around the two-minute mark and acts almost as a brief flurry into an idea, a story, like a poem, rather than a standard pop song.

 

More subdued than previous work, Ilo Veyou is both haunting and gleeful in its lyrical use of sound, at times sparse, raucous, playful and plaintive; an adventurous energy still crackles in Camille’s throat while a thoughtfulness pervades her inventively constructed soundscapes. More than just fun, it is a beautiful and compelling work.

Download: “Allez Allez Allez,” “Mars is No Fun,” “She Was.”

 [Rating:3.5]

Release date: 24th October 2011, EMI

www.camille-music.com

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