Bursting with the same sort of demented energy which characterise much European music of the Seventies and Eighties, Anthony Cedric Vuagniaux‘s bizarre space opera Le Clan Des Guimauves (The Marshmallow Clan) tells the story of “the adventures of a gang of Alien Gypsies lost on our planet. Their physical feature is to have a big nose and seven fingers on their left foot.” Part pot-head pixies, part Magma-esque interstellar weirdos, the clan set forth on their musical peregrinations with the bubbling enthusiasm, highs, lows and far-out cosmic synth and electric piano vibes redolent of an era when all restriction seemed null and void.This celebratory retro feeling is heightened upon learning that (of course) Vuagniaux records solely to analogue tape, makes his own instruments and is a fan of ancient electronic instruments. Some examples of both of the latter doubtless make appearances on Le Clan Des Guimauves, filters opening and oscillators thrumming in psychedelic waves to the faintly cheesy melodies of what resembles a soundtrack to an imaginary rediscovered film from decades past. In this film, the colours would be brightly displayed in mind-bending patterns while a cast of obscure offworld visitors gurgles their occasionally impenetrable dialogue through a plot of uncertain yet perhaps ultimately ironically uplifting dimensions. Listening to Le Clan Des Guimauves is sometimes also akin to settling down to a random feast of artfully animated films from the same era, perhaps from Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia, but in dubbed into a Francophone edition (Vuagniaux is Swiss). The music is at once brimming with avantgarde ideas, but allowed to ramp up the fun quotient in celebration of a universal humanist truth, that Utopia is out there, or maybe already here on earth just awaiting the surrealist intervention of a band of wandering space musicians to reveal its true wonders. Vuagniaux certainly has the background for it, having composed numerous cinema soundtracks over the years, and won awards for them too. So while it could easily be regarded as looking backwards to a supposed golden age, Vuagniaux also pulls off the neat trick of summoning the ambition to timelessness and joie de vivre which characterised much music of the era. Most tracks are under two minutes in length too, giving the feeling of effortless speed and transition without ever seeming rushed. Once successfully drawn into Vuagniaux’s soundworld, leaving so soon feels perhaps a little hasty, and a return visit before too long might also be advised.
-Antron S Meister-