Anton Newcombe collaborations are never less than interesting, so hearing he was working with Emmanuelle Seigner, I was naturally intrigued.
A teenage muse of Jean Luc Godard and the wife of controversial director Roman Polanski – for whom she starred in Frantic and Bitter Moon – Seigner is no musical novice.
She’s recorded with French outfit Ultra Orange and released two solo albums.in her own right
Seigner met Newcombe through mutual friends and accomplices, husband and wife garage-rock duo The Limiñanas.
The four combined to form L’Epee (The Sword) and Diabolique – a nod to swinging sixties Italian cult caper romp Danger: Diabolik – is their debut album.
Lionel Limiñana came up with most of the songs, with guest artist Bertrand Belin contributing lyrics to three tracks.
Newcombe is credited with multi-instrumental work, but more crucially ‘doctoring and treatments’ – his studio production and programming skills helping to give the album its distinctive atmosphere.
Having garnered a reputation as one of rock’s wildmen during his early years with The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Newcombe is a very different character these days having cleaned up and decamped to Berlin with his wife and son.
A fan of British bands from The Rolling Stones, to post-punk and feedback merchants The Jesus and Mary Chain – with the aid of The Limiñanas – he’s clearly been absorbing other delights the continent has to offer.
Diabolique is truly a European record with Seigner’s breathy gallic vocals recalling ‘60s ye-ye stars like Francoise Hardy and France Gall.
The influence of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground is also keenly felt as droning guitars are multi-layered to create rich slow-burning soundscapes.
Seigner sings for the most part in her native tongue and the garage rock stylings of The Limiñanas give the album a real swagger.
The whole thing sounds like the soundtrack to a groovy ‘60s movie that never was, eastern and psychedelic melodies jostling for space in the reverberating rhythms.
There are Stonesy riffs on songs like Dreams and Springfield 61, while the tense angular guitar line gives La Brigade Des Malefices the air of a Cold War spy thriller.
It’s not without humour either, as On Dansait Avec Elle, Belin channels Serge Gainsbourg to Seigner’s Jane Birkin, crooning lasciviously ‘alors!’ and ‘wow!’ as the song’s story unfolds.
Marie Limiñana’s percussion is a treat throughout and Newcombe ensures the production never descends into kitsch pastiche.
“We are living in very culturally insular times, so it feels really good to be swimming against the tide,” Newcombe said about the making of this album.
He’s not wrong.
- Diabolique is available digitally on this link and physically (Vinyl and CD) from Cargo Records here.
- For more about L’Epee including European tour dates visit the official website.