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[Off The Record]
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Sebastien Tellier

" Alone and by candlelight " is how 25-year-old Parisian musician Tellier recommends you listen to his album. And that sounds as if that’s how he recorded L’incroyable vérité ( " The Unbelievable Truth " ) — sitting somberly in the dark at his piano, left to tinker to his heart’s desire. The CD sputters occasionally from self-conscious sonic decorations of the one-man-band approach, especially the opening " Oh malheur chez O’Maley, " which comes off as a diddling overture. But it gets steadily better after the stumble start, settling into a subdued Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here–style vibe that conjures Tellier’s buddies Air. (The CD was initially released on Air’s Record Makers label, and he opened for Air on this summer’s US tour.) And even though you can find Tellier at (no, really), his subtle, clever arrangements kick the album’s tour through loneliness into a comparatively upbeat affair. One of his better tricks turns up during a " dog trilogy " of tracks, where he expands a whistle calling man’s best friend into a memorable melody ( " Une vie de papa " ). A few cuts later, after a soothing female lullaby during the " femme trilogy, " Tellier finds that a woman screaming during childbirth makes a good substitute for an overamped guitar lead ( " Vierges " ). The CD maintains a creepy, surrealist edge through the weeping synths of the closing " Black Douleur. " By which point, whatever got lost in visceral immediacy with Tellier’s lights-out approach has been replaced in spades by an uneasy but intimate warmth.


Issue Date: October 18 - 25, 2001

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