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Camille - Le Fil
Label: EMI Records
Release: 2006

Tracklisting:
1. La Jeune Fille Aux Cheveux Blancs
2. Ta Douleur
3. Assise
4. Janine I
5. Vous
6. Baby Carni Bird
7. Pour Que L'Amour Me Quitte
8. Senza
9. Janine II
10. Vertige
11. Au Port
12. Janine III
13. Pâle Septembre
14. Rue De Ménilmontant
15. Quand Je Marche
Le Fil - Camille
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CAMILLE – Le Fil

Camille Dalmais is essentially a minimalist, and the revelation of this occurs at exactly 23 seconds. Two lines in, and a choir of whispering voices surrounds your ears. Two minutes in, and you wonder exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into.

“Le fil” (literally, “the thread”) is the single soft tone held throughout the album, tying the songs together. It is a constant presence, weaving in and out of hearing, and extending roughly 30 minutes past the last notes of “Quand Je Marche,” (When I Walk) with 30 seconds of French for the very patient among us. The whole is far from monotonous (or even in the same key). It is immediately accessible, thoroughly modern, and thoroughly French. Yes, French music exists that does not have any relation to the accordion.

But despite the title, it is Camille’s voice that takes center stage, as she is mostly accompanied by …herself. Most instrumentation is replaced by vocal noises and samples, and her live shows encourage the audience to join in the experimentation.

Her slightly high-pitched singing is as also striking – it is generally hard to believe that it could have any relation to the arresting gaze of woman on the front cover. However, she is far from shy about putting her concept in front of you; “Ta Douleur (Your Pain)”, the first single, is accompanied by thoroughly Gallic vocal inflections (yes, this includes retching, wailing, and burping). The appropriate accompanying video shows the singer being wound and unwound in an outfit consisting solely of a blue thread.

Fluency isn’t necessary to enjoy Le Fil, but an understanding of French definitely makes it more interesting. Many songs are self-contained stories or wordplay. The heroine of “La Jeune Fille Aux Cheveaux Blondes” is not a gamine but a murderess, and of course “Janine I” includes the amusing couplet “Why do you call me Don Juan when I have such a tiny little dick?”

The only English occurs in a few phrases on “Baby Carni Bird.” For the curious, her voice is almost entirely different when singing in English – this is proved by her covers of “The Guns of Brixton” and “Too Drunk To Fuck” from the Nouvelle Vague project.

The obvious comparison is Bjork’s Medulla – but Camille’s parameters are far more self-defined, creating more of a complete whole. “Senza” and the three “Janines” are short experiments in sound and rhythm, where her voice ranges from sweet to downright (albeit charmingly) nasty.

Le fil ‘the thread’ is finally getting a stateside release (it hit the streets in France over a year ago), and is a gem that is definitely worth the time it takes to find.

Download: “Ta Douleur,” “Au Port,” “Janine III.”


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