**Last copies, sold out at source** The trajectories of avant-garde and experimental music tend to be perceived as straight lines; inherited legacies, tied up with tidy bows. In reality, as with all histories of creative activity, the whole things is a beautiful messy affair, within which the best of the best rarely fits. There’s no better example than the wilder territories of musical innovation that grew from the gestures and radicalism of punk, and of these there are few more striking than the French ensemble Vox Populi!. Often cited as a foundational project in France’s tightly knit movement of industrial music, even here the project defied easy definition, channeling a vast range of influences to create a singular form of avant-gardism that has retained cult loyalty ever since. We’re absolutely thrilled to shine light on the long awaited, first time stand-alone vinyl reissue of the band's great masterpiece, Myscitismes, originally self-issued on the band’s own Vox Man Records in 1985, and now reemerging on Platform 23. Highly sought after and virtually impossible to find in its original pressing, it’s a truly mind-bending marvel that, even 35 years on, still manages to turn everything on its head. Bristling with youthful innovation and rebellion that demands to be lived in and explored, it’s easily one of the most exciting reissues of the year.
Vox Populi! was founded in 1983 by brother and sister, Mithra and Arash Khalatbari, joined by Axel Kyrou, while all three were still in their teens. While deeply inspired by the emerging movements of industrial music and power electronics, even the project’s earliest gesture - threaded their way across a single 7” and two cassettes - moved far beyond the perceptual boundaries of those idioms with idiosyncratic improvisational structures, marked by a youthful playfulness that still retained its edge. Relentlessly pushing forward in their explorations, by the trio’s third full length and first LP, Myscitismes, things had truly begun to cohere in around incredibly original forms.
The great leap in Vox Populi!’s artistry that is captured by Myscitismes is, at least in some part, likely due to the ambitious explorations of Axel Kyrou - son of Mireille Kyrou, the legendary Groupe de Recherches Musicales composer and musique concrète pioneer - who had, on truly avant-garde terms, begun to utilize the band’s Vox Man studio as an instrument, laying the groundwork to the albums dark ambiences and visionary temperaments. Interweaving these elements with minimal synth, rhythm box, hand percussion and Persian poetry, they experimented with tape manipulation - layering the music with forward, backward and echo simultaneously, creating a body of remarkably singular aural bridges between varies global traditions of music that they had become enthralled with, punk, synths pop, industrial music, 60’s and 70’s luminaries like Areski, Brigitte Fontaine, and Jacques Higelin, musique concrète, and the radical electronic and electroacoustic gestures that were still emerging from studios like GRM.
Like all great and visionary music, Myscitismes cannot be done justice with words. It stands on its own in the landscape like a shifting totem, never allowing itself to be entirely nailed down. Not unlike the efforts of Nurse with Wound, it establishes Vox Populi! as among the true inheritors of the territories concurred by the great avant-garde gestures of the 1950’s, 60s, and 70s, wrestling them from the iron grip of institutionalization, and revitalizing them with rebellious energy of punk. Threaded by pulsing electronics, shimmering drones, stunning vocals, and a constellation of stunningly structured abstract sound, it’s impossible to recommend Vox Populi!’s Myscitismes enough. Finally reissued in this beautiful edition by Platform 23, it’s bound to be a revelation for anyone encountering it for the first time, and a must have for anyone that knows its name.