I must admit that I don’t know a whole lot about Florent Marchet. The only other album of his that I have is Noël’s Songs, which, as you could probably guess, is a Christmas album. I simply grabbed that one for the heck of it because, as my loyal readers must have figured out by now, I love Christmas music and I love French music. And it was a fantastic Christmas album, featuring originals that were both clever and catchy along with a handful of well-executed covers, all of which he did entirely in French.
Here’s what I do know about Florent: he released his debut album, Gargilesse, in 2004. His sophomore album, Rio Baril, was released in 2007 and his third, Courchevel, in 2010. His fourth album — if you count Christmas albums — was 2011’s Noël’s Songs. Subsequently, if you count Christmas albums then his new album, Bambi Galaxy, is his fifth. If not — and most people don’t seem to be counting the Christmas album — then it’s his fourth. Count it however you want.
I can also tell you that Florent was born in 1975 and that his parents owned a theatre, which would lead one to believe that growing up in that environment undoubtedly sparked his creativity. In fact, he’s so creative that — to the best of my knowledge — he writes all of his own songs, aside from the occasional cover, in addition to playing the piano, guitar, drums and flute. Which makes me suspect that he’s one of those cats who plays all, or almost all, of the music on his albums himself, like Lenny Kravitz.
The first single from Bambi Galaxy is “Apollo 21,” which features a fascinating video in which a beanstalk that begins underground on the earth rises up through a street and up through the sky and all across the universe. Along the way — if I’m interpreting it correctly — it even destroys the earth — or a similar planet — and creates a new one. While all of this is occurring during the first two minutes of the video, Florent tells the story of what is happening in French, spoken word style, over almost ambient music that immediately made me think of the French duo Air. In particular, their score for the film The Virgin Suicides. It’s very mellow, almost soothing, which one could also say about the way he delivers the narrative. Beyond that, his sing-speaks the lyrics in a quick, almost rapid-fire manner as the video takes us through an empty space ship and back out into the universe. While this is happening, the music gradually intensifies, as the score would during a suspenseful movie scene. The instrument that appears and stands out at this point is the bass guitar, which seems to guide the listener through the rest of the music, which envelopes it. It would also seem to keep the listener calm even while planets are exploding and the beanstalk passes through an asteroid field and a flock of black birds of some sort. During the final minute of the song, we hear folk-like acoustic guitar and the music more or less calms down. As for how it ends, well, I’ll tell you that it starts to build suspense again in terms of the music but I won’t spoil the rest of the video for you. And I apologize for spoiling most of it with this paragraph, but I felt it appropriate because it illustrates how wildly imaginative Florent is. It’s easily one of the most original songs I’ve ever heard. It’s also a very unusual choice for a first single, given that it’s all spoken word and sing-speaking, as opposed to his normal singing voice. And while it’s very suspenseful, it’s not what I’d call infectious. If there’s a chorus in there, I certainly didn’t notice it and I’m reasonably certain I would have, especially since I do know some French. In any case, it’s a fascinating listen and the video is truly a must-see, so check it out while you’re here.
I’m not sure if Bambi Galaxy is a concept album, but it certainly appears that way to me. The whole album tends to have the vibe of the above-mentioned “Apollo 21.” The other songs have verses and choruses, mind you. But there’s a distinct sci-fi vibe. In addition to the trippy ballad of a title track and “Apollo 21,” there’s a song called “Space Opera” that pairs funky bass guitar noodling with lots of sci-fi blips and bleeps and flourishes of beautiful, operatic backing vocals. And from what I can understand, many of the other songs have references to space and sci-fi related things.
My favorite tracks are the three sci-fi tunes mentioned above and “Reste avec moi” (translation: “Stay With Me”), which has a simple chorus where he repeats the title over and over again, but it’s still a song that reaches out and grabs you. It’s also exquisitely-produced with lots of synth and thumping beats and what I assume are lots of loops. In any case, it’s quite the electro-pop masterpiece with production so intricate it would impress Garbage, a band where each member is a producer, which practically invented the use of loops in pop/rock music. (But you already knew that, right? I mean, they’re Garbage. They’re one of the best bands on the planet, ever. And they happen to be my favorite band of all-time.)
Whether you’re a fan of electronic music like Air and Daft Punk, or simply a fan of French pop, or even a fan of progressive music, Bambi Galaxy is your highly potent medicine… and a unique odysee. Even if you simply like pop music and normally don’t listen to music that’s not in English, you just might get hooked on this one if you give it a chance. It’s addictive like that.