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Tant De Temps Jeremy Allen , April 18th, 2016 08:25

If your life is not full enough with influential dead Frenchman just yet, then you may need to get the late, great Jacno into your life. An impossibly glamorous smoking dandy whilst still with us, his errant ways somewhat inevitably caught up with him, and he left this world too soon - aged 52 - in 2009. Named Denis Quilliard by his mum (the sobriquet he adopted came from the cartoonist who designed the logo for Gauloises cigarettes), his story is littered with trop cool detail, such as the fact he formed France's first punk band - the Stinky Toys - with Elli Medeiros, or that Andy Warhol was mesmerised by him when visiting Paris, or that he bore an uncanny resemblance to David Bowie during the late 70s when he released his eponymously-titled seminal solo record, an analogue mini-masterpiece of minimalist electro.

Jacno's notoriety hit its peak as one half of Elli & Jacno, a romantic pop coupling who enjoyed considerable fame in their home country in the early 80s; the pair split up in 1984, and Quillard went back to being plain old Jacno, having sporadic hits but mostly remaining a cult concern. His final album, the ironically titled Tant De Temps ("So Much Time") - released by Warner Music in 2006 - has now been re-released by excellent French label Gonzaï, who among other things, put out Besombes and Rizet's mid-70s epic-prog masterpiece Pôle last year. Ten years on, this sounds remarkably fresh and full of joie de vivre for an album made by someone long since departed.

If there's a clue that his lifestyle might have contributed to his premature demise, then the track 'Le Sport' is probably a good indicator. A song as funny as it is exciting, the singer sets out a manifesto as to why 'le sport est de la merde' ("sport is shit"). The pulsating track reminds one of early Roxy Music and Gainsbourg in equal measure, a hybrid that could hardly be any more divine. We live in an imperfect world, because in a perfect one, this song would be no.1 for a decade in all of the world's countries, and on other planets also. Jacno's dionysian streak permeates his poetry, and on the title track he delivers the beautifully soaked line about shagging, “comme la vodka et l'orange, nos corps se mélangent” (like vodka and orange, our bodies are mixed).  

Another highlight is the opening track, 'Tous ces mots-là' [all of these words here], which switches from major to minor in such a way as to leave one feeling discombobulated; its ambient contours are a classy and brave way to commence, where 'Le Sport' may have kicked the doors in. 'Si Je Te Quitte' ('If I Leave You") and 'Avec Les Yeux' ("With The Eyes") have wildly fascinating and unusual sounding pulsing backing tracks, conflated with more conventional guitar lines to pin things down, while vampire love song 'L'homme De L'ombre' ("A Man In The Shadows") mixes fastidious electro with swooping strings to magnificent effect. In contrast, 'Les Amants, Les Clients' ("The Lovers, The Customers") is a touching piano ballad about prostitutes on Paris' notorious Rue Saint Denis, and he's at it again with the gorgeous 'Baiser Empoisonné' ("Poisoned kiss") towards the conclusion of the record.

As this poète maudit's last stand, Tant De Temps is a wild and varied work by a gifted musician who would have surely had much more to offer had he hung around a bit longer; it's a testament to Jacno's outstanding talent, and his cult status at home is already assured. Perhaps this release will bring his mischievous brilliance to the Anglosphere, albeit rather belatedly.

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