Recorded in a string of unusual locations including three church chapels and Noirlac Abbey, a 12th century Cistercian building located deep in the heart of the central French countryside, Gallic pop maverick Camille's fourth album, "Ilo Veyou", reflects the low-key surroundings of its inception with a sound which playfully toys with the notions of silence and space.
Indeed, it's possible to hear a pin drop on the majority of its 15 tracks, particularly on the Björk-esque, a cappella closer "Tout Dit", which sometimes bravely waits five seconds in-between each of Camille's whispered words; the highly atmospheric, Middle Eastern-tinged "Le Berger", which sees her adopt a Bollywood-style vocal alongside a simple oud arrangement, and the bilingual, hushed melodies of "Pleasure", which are accompanied solely by some echo-laden, muted percussion. While this sparse approach could have turned into a gimmick in lesser hands, Camille's flair for invention ensures the album never turns into a one-trick pony. Renowned for pushing her unique voice to the limits, she continues to weave around the slightly avant-garde production like a chameleon, effortlessly shifting from an Edith Piaf-style chanteuse on "La France", a traditional chanson-style back-handed compliment to her homeland, to sensual seductress on the erotically charged acoustic melancholy of "Wet Boy", to cutesy jazz-pop starlet on the double bass-led theatrics of "Mars Is No Fun", a delightful tale of a traveler who prefers the mundanity of Milton Keynes to the realms of outer space.
Her vocal trickery is so versatile that it's hard to determine whether the children's chorus and male backing vocals on the medieval folk of "Allez Allez Allez", and the title track, respectively, are exactly what they appear to be.
The album's eccentric nature does occasionally veer into novelty territory.
The bubble-popping sound effects and scat vocals on the lullaby-ish "Bubble Lady", and the childlike melodies and twinkling music boxes of "Message" -- both presumably inspired by the birth of her son -- are undeniably enchanting at first, but lose their cute appeal after repeated listens, while the spoken word opener "Aujourd'hui" sounds like the ramblings of a mad woman.
But with such an ambitiously unconventional approach, it's quite an achievement that "Ilo Veyou" contains far more hits than misses. J.O'brien
Bande a Part
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