20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Charlotte Gainsbourg’s IRM by Irina Dvalidze

Gainsbourg and Beck Collaborate on IRM

PREVIEW: VISIT Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Myspace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

If you are up on your vintage trivia the name Gainsbourg should be fairly familiar. Offspring of British actress and singer Jane Birkin and French actor/singer Serge Gainsbourg, Charlotte has most recently become known for her role in Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist, a.k.a. the most messed up movie you will ever see. However set on following in her father’s footsteps, Gainsbourg’s musical career isn’t exactly something to overlook either, especially considering her third album, IRM.

A product of Gainsbourg’s collaboration with Beck, it becomes hard to identify whose release is it exactly. While it is a little much to say that it sounds like a female Beck production, his mark is definitely evident. From his signature musical arrangements, with subtle build-ups, to single-cord guitar melodies into over the top dramatic culminations, it just has Beck’s fingerprints all over it.

Inspired by a brain hemorrhage following Gainsbourg’s water-skiing accident in 2007, the album is heavily charged with subtle haunting undertones and medical references. IRM mainly serves as a recollection of Gainsbourg’s near-death experience. Each sound is very eerie and most of the lyrics are coated in hummed vocals, making the album feel like a hypnotic cocoon. In tracks such as “Dandelion” and “IRM,” there is a clear layering of melodic arrangements with rougher, mechanical acoustics.

Gainsbourg’s voice though is by all means her strongest contribution to the album.  Her elegant vocals, laced with a hint of French intonation, give most of the songs a smooth flow, which balance well with the occasional dominant melodies that have a more avant-garde quality to them, most evident in track “Le Chat du Café des Artistes.”   IRM has a fairly stunning variety of sounds, mixing styles and genres one would hardly expect. While the release has a heavy morbid backdrop that comes through most of the songs, it becomes hardly apparent as dreamy beats and ghostly notes dominate.

It is safe to say that IRM is a candidate to be named as some of the best work we’ve seen from both artists. The Beck-Gainsbourg collaboration is nothing short of a match made in trippy music heaven, with this release serving as perfectly unified and appropriate for the creative duo.

— Irina Dvalidze

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