Le Volume Courbe
About the Gig
In contrast to Bryn Christopher the middle act of the evening was provided by the experimental, almost unclassifiable, Le Volume Courbe.
Led by Gallic waif Charlotte Marionneau, with Douglas Hart on bass (founder member of The Jesus and Mary Chain), Theo Hall on guitar, and Wild Cat on drums.
They began with the thundering, avant-garde track "The Mind is a Horse". This set the tone for their slot, displaying their art-house roots, whilst engaging the audience with Charlotte’s child like charm, playing the melodica and swanee whistle. Highlights of the set included "I Killed My Best Friend", "Freight Train" and "Sitting in Your Head".
Preceding the main act is always a difficult slot to fill, but Le Volume Courbe's unconventional presence definitely filled the room, reminding some of the pioneering spirit that is all too rare amongst today's musicians, and introducing others to something new and challenging.
Anglo-French band, Le Volume Courbe are: Charlotte Marionneau (vocals), Theodore Hall (guitar), Melanie Draisey (violin, glockenspiel, percussion), Douglas Hart (bass) and Wild Cat (drums).
Charlotte produced the band’s 2005 album "I Killed My Best Friend", which was released on Damon Albarns’s Honest Jon Records. The album featured contributions from Hope Sandoval and David Roback of Mazzy Star, and Kevin Shields and Colm O'Ciosoig of My Bloody Valentine.
Charlotte cites Patti Smith, Nico and Yoko Ono as key influences, and describes herself as Punk but not rock, so it’s no wonder that Le Volume Courbe make original music that refuses to be pigeonholed into a genre. Added to this, the French flavour gives Le Volume Courbe a very Bohemian feel.
Much will be made of her Bloody co-pilot, Kevin Shields, but Charlotte Marionneau is the one flying in the clouds sans wings, sans prayers. The vocals are pillowy hallucinations, triple-tracked and hazy with a criminally subliminal vibe. The volume often curves down with its hair hanging in its face, half of the lp features Charlotte whispering teases to an acoustic guitar. Happy blues, like “Sitting In Your Head” or cute clueless killer like the title cut. Nice production touches in the shadows between sounds, and the overlapping voices do raise the delirium a tipsy notch.
Is a French woman singing in English still a chanteuse? She does try on other clothes besides vagabond, folk-gazer/drifter. Piano cha-cha for Nina Simone’s “Ain’t Got No…” Then with “Who Are You” Charlotte gets stuck in a squelchy sample squeezer, similar to its sister, on the great gaspy “The Mind Is A Horse.” “Hanging Around” has a silliness that overcomes the dorkiness of the initial synth loopy line. The closer “Locarno” lands on a darker, dubbier side of the Moondog, when she sings “He scares me, he’s beautiful” I’m more afraid for “him” whoever he is.