[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume One (1973-1977)

The ‘Le Mystère de la Musique‘ series progresses the Musique du Monde label into the under-appreciated mid-70s, bridging the gap between the late-60s/early-70s ‘Le Tour du Monde‘ and ‘Les Miniatures‘ mixes and Musicophilia’s post-punk mixes.  Appropriately for a time that sits in the shadow of the more well-loved musical “peaks” before and after, ‘Le Mystère‘ explores a nocturnal, ambiguous territory that is perhaps more understated but also more bewitching than the other Musique LPs.  The fantastic beats are still featured, and the genre-eschewing, world-spanning ethos remains in place.  But there is a greater emphasis here on spaciousness, noirish shadow and light, and slow-boiling sexiness–on mystery.

Volume One‘ opens with three tracks–by Henri Texier, Joni Mitchell, and a very young but already ambitious Arthur Russell–that set the mysterious, unclassifiable tone of ‘Le Mystère‘.  Osama Kitajima amps things up with an avant-metal-cum-kabuki sound.  Musique concrete master Bernard Parmegiani provides an abstract interlude, while Lou Reed brings the first side to a close with a dose macabre humor.  Alan Parker and John Cameron, sound library kings, open Side B in a mellow grove, and Brigitte Fontaine and Areski echo Texier’s French-via-Central-Asian exoticism.  Italians Le Orme follow the direction laid out by Franco Battiato into sci-fi-tinged Prog that doesn’t need to show off its chops to be effective.  Sun Ra simmers one of the Arkestra’s funkier, more laid-back numbers, and Harmonia bridges to Iggy Pop‘s dark masterpiece “Nightclubbing”.  The untouchable Hamilton Bohannon closes the record with one of his sexiest, most intoxicating sophisticate-disco grooves, sending us off into late-night ecstasy.  Full tracklist and download link for this LP-length mix (with full “sleeve art” and “liner notes”) at the “more…” link.

Various Artists – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume One
(Musique du Monde, France – 1977)

A1  [00:00]  Henri TEXIER – “Le Piroguier” (Amir, 1976)  France
A2  [04:04]  Joni MITCHELL – “The Jungle Line” (The Hissing of Summer Lawns, 1975)  Canada
A3  [08:25]  Arthur RUSSELL – “Goodbye Old Paint” (Unreleased, 1975)  USA
A4  [11:52]  Osama KITAJIMA – “Tengu, A Long-Nosed Goblin” (Benzaiten, 1974)  Japan
A5  [14:47]  Bernard PARMEGIANI – “Incidences: Battements”  (De Natura Sonorum, 1975)  France
A6  [16:30]  Lou REED – “Kicks” (Coney Island Baby, 1976)  USA

B1  [00:00]  Alan PARKER & John CAMERON – “Sahara Sunrise” (Afro Rock, 1973)  England
B2  [02:59]  Brigitte FONTAINE & ARESKI – “La Harpe Jaune” (Vous et Nous, 1977)  France
B3  [05:43]  Le ORME – “India” (Contrappunti, 1974)  Italy
B4  [08:44]  Sun RA – “That’s How I Feel” (Unreleased, 1977)  USA
B5  [14:07]  HARMONIA – “Trace”  (Unreleased, 1976)  Germany
B6  [15:09]  Iggy POP – “Nightclubbing” (The Idiot, 1977)  USA
B7  [18:53]  Hamilton BOHANNON – “Come Dance With Me” (On My Way, 1977)  USA

[Total Time: 45:37]

Rough Translation, Back Cover:
“How does one describe the mystery of music?  Perhaps it’s best to let music speak for itself: language may get in the way.  And so we present ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ which explores the changing sound of a world where borders are disintegrating between sounds, and between people.  Across the discs of this series you will find feelings of the night, of the unknown, of the new and as yet undefined.  This music refuses to fit itself to the old, established genres and boundaries.  Instead, it pushes forward into a future where freedom of expression and breadth of creativity are the central reasons for being.  The mystery is not a riddle to be solved: it asks you to revel in the indescribable, the unknown, the journey and not the destination.  Open your ears, and your mind will follow, through the mystery of music.”

Reissue Notes:
The Musique du Monde label built its reputation in the late 60s and the early 70s issuing some of the hippest, grooviest and eclectic collections of the era, the ‘Le Tour du Monde’ and ‘Les Miniatures’ series.  It is secondarily revered for its early 80s collections of discoid madness, ‘Les Rythmes du Monde’.  But among the lesser-known contributions to musical mind-expansion of Musique is a group of mid-to-late-70s compilations that explored a more nebulous territory, one that bridged the gap between the earlier funk- and psych-based music of the ‘Le Tour’ discs and the post-punk realm explored by the contemporary heir to Musique’s curatorial role, the Musicophilia Co.  This nearly forgotten series, called ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ can perhaps be described as the night to Le Tour’s day: living up to its “mystery” moniker, the series threads through the darker edges of progressive funk, pop, folk, fusion-oriented jazz, electronic and concrete music, nascent art-rock (that would eventually be called “post-punk,”) and even touches of country and sound library music.  Much of the music is difficult to categorise meaningfully, even thirty years later.  But such was the Musique ethos, even in the earlier days: to celebrate the “mystery” of the connections and blurring lines between seemingly disparate forms of recorded sound.  ‘Le Mystère de la Musique’ remains enticingly mysterious, even though many of the artists found across its platters are well-loved today.

— I. Sonnecomme, September 2009

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6 thoughts on “[Musique du Monde] – ‘Le Mystère de la Musique,’ Volume One (1973-1977)

  1. Thank you for this…I shall be grabbing a number of these from you I fear. Was playing yr Can comps before, such a good band. Do you happen to have Michael Karoli and Polly Estes (?) album whose name I have momentarily forgotten…You may also be interested in the fact that I have reactivated my other blog Son Of… and think that there could poss be a couple of things that might grab you and your readers.
    Also glad to see that you are feeling better, well I hope that you are.

  2. This whole mix is awesome, as usual, but so far the second track on side B, Brigitte Fontaine and Areski, gets me like no other. What are French people doing with a mbira???? So. Cool.

  3. Everything I’ve heard from Fontaine & Areski (and Fontaine & The Art Ensemble of Chicago) from the 70s is great. Underrated minimal folk darkness, for sure.

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