Red – Felk


Dear Mr. Red,
I’m sorry, Mr. Red, aka Olivier Lambin. I just don’t get it. What are you trying to do on Felk, your debut album? Are you trying, perhaps, to unsettle us, to unnerve us? Are you trying, maybe, to experiment to the point of taking the recognizable and make it unrecognizable? Or are you just trying to piss us off?
I suppose I don’t know much about French experimental music, and seeing as how you are French and making experimental music, this could be relatively middle-of-the-road. But for a wider audience, your atonal strumming, your monotone vocals, your spliced in baby jammering and discordant noises, your long periods of silence…well, they make me feel a little nauseous. Is that your point, Mr. Red? To make us throw up by the time the album is up?
I understand experimentation, and I can certainly appreciate someone doing something or trying something completely new. I applaud you in that, at least. Your own songs here at least have some consistency. There’s something of an ambient, electronic buzz in “Reindern Town,” but those babies jabbering really drive me crazy. Maybe that’s your point? Make it stop! I get a more bluesy feel from your vocals on “The Drunkards,” at least, but I still can’t understand them, and I can’t even hear your accompaniment. That scratching in “Dyin’ in the Wine” makes me think of someone trying to claw their way out of a casket. This song gives me the impression of what Johnny Cash on acid would sound like if he was wanking in his closet. The last song here, “I Get On My Own a Special Way,” well, first what does that title mean? And why, after all this time, do you finally focus on the vocals. This song can almost be cool, with your vocals all moody like and the barest of accompaniment. I could maybe get behind this one a bit, although at 6 minutes, it makes me a tad…nervous.
But why the covers? Why take songs that we’re bound to recognize and make them completely new, incomprehensible, warped and twisted? For example, you take the blues classic “Baby Please Don’t Go” and turn it into a Halloween reject of a song, with slightly echoey, warbly vocals that almost remind me of Johnny Cash on acid (or perhaps dead and haunting us), little bits of guitar, and throw them all in a big empty room. You turn Hank Williams’ brilliant “I Saw the Light” and make it an incomprehensible mess, full of scraping metal sounds, a dark ambient tone, and your own monotone vocals buried completely in the background. And the Talking Heads, Red? The Talking Heads?!? Your version of “Road to Nowhere” takes an up-beat, peppy song and turns it into a haunted house feature, with scary-style singing and odd, ambient background noises. Now really, was this necessary?
So, in closing, Mr. Red, please, by all means, continue to make your … well, I won’t call it music, per se. This is nothing I understand or can appreciate, but there may very well be people out there who do. I feel inadequate to describe your experimental mayhem, and I will quite likely never play your album again. But there’s always room for experimental artists trying new things. I just thought I’d say that I’d be very afraid of anyone who “got” this.
Your friend, Jeff
ps. Why does the poorly drawn girl on the cover have a third eye? Oh…just another thing I’m not supposed to get.