Mlah

13 Apr

Mlah

‘Mlah’ is the first album by the eight-piece French band Les Negresses Vertes.  Released in the UK on the Rhythm King/Mute label, I bought it fairly shortly after it came out in 1989 – primarily because of being bowled over by a track I heard on the radio called ‘Zobi La Mouche’.   To my ears, the sounds they were making were unique: high-energy gypsy-like music that seemed to nod in the direction of of north Africa with strange time signatures and drumming, a Parisian accordion and a big fat, exuberent brass section plus occasional Spanish guitar.  Overall, the impression was of a raucous wine-fuelled party!   It was original and different but there seemed to be a vague kinship with what an English band called The Barely Works were doing (well, same  sort of use of brass and accordion anyway).

The drawback was that, at the time (pre-Internet) there was no translation to the lyrics in the booklet – and they certainly appeared to be a WORDY band! Although I tried, my poor French wasn’t up to the task – it appeared to be totally random!  It has only been more recently that I’ve found English translations on the web and, guess what: it is pretty bizarre: Everyday tales of cannibalism, voyeurism, dancing and drunkenness!

I can’t recall the band ever touring in the UK and never bought another CD from them – but it does get listened to from time to time  as a sort of mash-up between world music and urban Paris.

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