WATOO WATOO: Picture of a Lost Friend


The trouble started when Michaël and Pascale recorded some songs for 18fps. Instead of taking these songs for the soundtrack series, we insisted on doing a solo release with the band. Of course, we had expected to release this record a year and half sooner, but we hope that you’ll agree that the extra time and care put into this collection is apparent.

Of the pieces which had been intended for 18fps, three set the tone for the mini album: “The Golden Castle” (jazzy pop supreme), “L’Ennui” (laidback farfisa melancholia), and “Dans le Train” (a simple, sentimental instrumental). The months which followed were spent composing new songs to color in the picture. “Alcatraz Avenue,” an exquisite example of what over the years we’ve taken to calling “driving music” (see Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger than Paradise” for the origin of this phrase; see Cessna’s “Continental Diner” for another musical example of the genre). “Back & Safe,” quintessential jangly Watoo Watoo: quick, upbeat, yet strangely just a bit sad. And to finish off the record, the hummingbird worthy (at 194 BPM) and appropriately titled “I Could Never Run That Fast.”

Memory and separation may be the key to these songs, but if we mention that, it’s only because it’s something that one doesn’t notice about Watoo Watoo right away. The music complements the wistful lyrics with lightness and whimsy. If Club 8 were lighter on their feet and had French accents, perhaps... And a taste for Martin Duffy era Felt. Gorgeous guest performances by guitarists Didier Duclos (Christine) and Antoine Chabert (les Yachines) run throughout.

01. The Golden Castle

02. Alcatraz Avenue

03. Back & Safe

04. L'ennui

05. Dans le train

06. I Could Never Run That Fast

WATOO WATOO: le fumalin

Les Disques Maladroits (France)

French duo Watoo Watoo are back, and with what turns out to be (at long last!) their first proper album. As such, le fumalin pulls together all the band’s experience from their previous efforts for labels Radio Khartoum and Blackbean & Placenta, and builds from there. The basic Watoo Watoo traits are in evidence: Pascale’s airy, lightly melancholic-tinged vocals, jazzy jangle a la francaise, hummingbird twee, and tight little solos—right on the money, as always. The band’s expansion from here takes on two forms. First, in line with the pop world’s increasing openness to non-English vocals, Pascale makes much better use of her native French this time around, reverting to English on only two songs. Second…instrumentation, of course! Lots more…piano, Rhodes, vibes, organ, mellotron, etc. More electronics (check “L’univers etrange,” a standout hybrid of minimal synth work and groovy guitars, as a perfect a backdrop for chanteuse Pascale as you could ask for), more experimentation (check the unexpected conclusion of “Un peu plus loin,” reminiscent of early Rough Trade/Wales experimental pop), and more directions (classic carousel pop, 60s basement groove, chamber pieces, solo piano). As always, Watoo Watoo’s sound takes on a bit from the guitarists that Michael invites (Michael plays everything but guitar), in this case Didier Duclos (aka Christine) and Guillaume Belhomme (aka Gypsophile). Debut release from the new French label Les Disques Maladroits, with two bonus cuts.

01. L'attrait

02. Un peu plus loin

03. Une décision

04. L'absence

05. Vraiment rien

06. Un mot de trop

07. A ma place

08. Histoire d'ombres

09. A Still Day

10. L'univers étrange

11. Lore Stonep

12. The Golden Castle (acoustic version)

13. Les reflets (2003)