RVNG Intl collects some of Michel Mercure’s early minimal synth and experimental electronics compositions. All of the tunes that make up Beside Herself were initially issued on cassettes self-released by Mercure between 1983 and 1990. These lo-fi ditties will appeal to fans of Pauline Anna Storm and The Nightcrawlers.
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We’ve become so accustomed to reissues of early electronic music that it’s easy to become cynical about it all. But before you actually listen to these records it’s easy to forget what they represent. When Michele Mercure was recording the music on ‘Beside Herself’ throughout the 80s, electronic minimal music was far less fixed we find it today. And the prospect of hearing that type of music, made by a woman who never lived in New York or Los Angeles no less, vindicates RVNG Intl.’s efforts.
Yes by the 80s the rules of electronic music were partly set so Mercure’s music is not entirely otherworldly. But there is certainly a freshness to it. Hers is a minimalism built to accommodate theatre and visuals and so carries an immense amount of narrative power. Her big creative awakening was when she was asked to soundtrack a performance of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, a play which balances minimalism with its theme of existentialism. Much like the play, Mercure manages to suggest a lot with very little. It does not take a lot for her synthesisers to suddenly become dramatic.
She was able to introduce vocals with genuine weight on stand out ‘Beside Myself’ where laughter plays throughout the track in a way that is genuinely disconcerting. She takes this further on ‘No More Law In Gotham City’ which is entirely twisted vocals. Once more something familiar is made strange, and all with the least visible effort.
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- Beside Herself by Michele Mercure
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