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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Evariste - "Do You Know The Beast?" LP, Vinyl 45 rpm, Limited Edition (Nosmoke)

I discovered Evariste's music either on YouTube (still there, look) or on someone's website.  My first reaction to this French Ye-Ye singer was 'oh a Jacques Dutronc" type.  Very little information on Evariste in  English.  For one, he's a Ph.D. doctorate in theoretical physics, at the age of 23, and was very much swept up in the May 68 Paris world of politics.  His hairstyle was extreme with one side short and the other very long.   And watching the promotional films he made in 1968 struck me as eccentric.  And that may all be the case, but also his music is great.  

Michel Colombier did the production and musical arrangements, and this is his best work.  That's saying a lot considering Colombier's work with the great Serge Gainsbourg and others, but here his arrangments are out-of-this-world.  Evariste's songs are over-the-top, and his vocal mannerisms are humorous, but re-listening to his work on vinyl  I now find it fascinating.  There is almost a musique concrete aspect to his vocals, in that he uses different tones, voices, and Colombier seemed to have an endless amount of impressions done musically to fit with the songs as well as the character of Evariste. 

The scientist aspect of his work is alluring and very much part of the image of Evariste.  His real name is Joel Sternheimer, and he took the name from Évariste Galois, a brilliant mathematician, who was able to determine a condition for a polynomial math problem when he was a teenager in 1829.   Galois was killed in a dual when he was 20.   The James Dean of Science!

Hearing Evariste's recordings on vinyl is like being in the country air for the first time after being locked up in a smokey room.  This 45 rpm master of 10 songs by Evariste, who only released two French EP's (four songs each) and one 45 rpm single (two songs) is the complete works.  Beautifully arranged and recorded, Evariste needs to be heard in its proper format.  The videos are great as well.  

Evariste, December 2012, photo by David Tinkham