Monday, 19 December 2011


Qui m'accompagne en chemin, et me conduit par la main?
C'est mon ange gardien
Qui me fait aimer la vie, même quand le ciel est gris?
C'est mon ange gardien

Et c'est aussi lui qui me fait et chanter
Lorsque j'ai envie de pleurer

J'ai de la peine (mais pas de peine)
J'ai du chagrin (ce n'est pas bien)
Pour oublier (il faut chanter)
Il faut chanter, et je reprends courage en chantant ce refrain

Qui me console toujours, et me donne tant d'amour?
C'est mon ange gardien
Qui est toujours près de moi, qui me donne tant de joies
C'est mon ange gardien

Et c'est parce que je sais bien qu'au fond de moi
Que mon ange gardien c'est toi

J'ai de la peine (mais pas de peine)
J'ai du chagrin (ce n'est pas bien)
Pour oublier (il faut chanter)
Il faut chanter, celui que j'aime c'est toi mon ange gardien

J'ai de la peine (mais pas de peine)
J'ai du chagrin (ce n'est pas bien)
Pour oublier (il faut chanter)
Il faut chanter, celui que j'aime c'est toi mon ange gardien
Celui que j'aime c'est toi mon ange gardien

[From the lyrics of "Mon ange gardien"]

Borrowing its name from Jacques Tricatel, a character portrayed by Louis de Funès in the 1976 movie "L'aile ou la cuisse" (The Wing and the Thigh) - this, in turn, ispired by Jacques Borel, father of the "Restoroute" restaurant chain - French label Tricatel was founded in 1996 by musician and producer Bertrand Burgalat.

Since its creation, the label has been focused on releasing music of a futuristic lounge, refined pop, downtempo easy-listening and retro-chic nature. Proudly independent, Tricatel payed homage to labels like The Compact Organisation and él Records, that have been a source of inspiration for Burgalat.

During the years the label has released music by April March, Eggstone, Count Indigo, The High Llamas, Etienne Charry and many other artists, including veteran composer André Popp, actress Valérie Lemercier, writers Michel Houellebecq and Jonathan Coe, and - of course - its founder and gran maestro Betrand Burgalat.

The label had an high profile in France and many of its releases received huge critical acclaims both there and abroad, sadly this was not matched by commercial success and sales. Coupled with distribution problems, Tricatel was forced to slow down its release schedule after a few years of frenetic activity.

Tricatel has turned fifteen in april 2011, the following is an excerpt taken from a feature/interview by David McKenna taken from The Quietus website, the complete version is available here.

What does it mean to have kept Tricatel going for 15 years?

"Not much really - I am not good with numbers. I'm starting to realize that I may spend the rest of my life doing the same things: struggling to finance projects and to release them, getting discouraged then trying again."

How have you responded to changes in the music industry over the past 15 years?

"The situation for Tricatel is much better now than 15 years ago. The crisis in music industry has been an excellent thing for people in the margins like us. Now that record sales are disappointing for everyone and not only for us it's more useless than ever to be calculating. You have to do the music you'd like to listen to - even if your music is super opportunistic it may fail too. A lot of people are not used to making records with low budgets while paying musicians and technicians decently, whereas it has always been our main concern.

In fact, the only thing that I don't like here in France is that most records that sell are not catchy, they are more fake quality for bobos [bohemians], and I have always preferred a good song from Britney Spears to a boring album from Björk."

Modelled more on él Records (which in the 80s was a home to Momus, regular Burgalat collaborator Louis Philippe, Shock Headed Peters and Marden Hill amongst others) than Factory, Tricatel was set up, in Burgalat's own words, as a "fantasy" label with its cast of backroom boys, muses (American singer April March, French comedy actress Valérie Lemercier) and even a proper house band in the shape of AS Dragon. Undoubtedly a post-modern project, it seemed as though it was trying to establish an alternative variété: an idea of what modern mainstream French pop could be if it was Boris Vian, Yé-Yé, Pierre Henry, Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, cool 60s film music, uncool 70s MOR, Marc Cerrone, the soundtrack to La Boum and French Touch all mixed up.

In 1999 Tricatel launched a succulent initiative in the form a vinyl-only series aptly named "Tricatel 25cm Club". Initially, these 10" releases were only available by post and had to be ordered directly from the label, but sometimes later they also received a wider distribution through independent music stores.

Most of these records were pressed on clear vinyl; probably published in a limited edition, it is unclear how many copies of each release exist... The first number in this promising serie was "Dans les yeux d'April March", which finally bring us to the star of this post.

Born Elinor Lanman Blake on April 20, 1965, April March is an American vocalist whose elegant style was heavily influenced by European pop and especially French yé-yé' music. She became fascinated with France as a child, and during her junior high school she had the chance to participate in an exchange program that brought her in the land of her dreams.

In 1987 Blake formed her first band, a female trio named The Pussywillows that only released one Pop/Surf-tinged album. When they split in 1991, she quickly assembled a new Garage band named The Shitbirds; at the same time she began recording under the name April March while continuing to work with the group until 1995.

During the same year she began her association with the Sympathy for the Record Industry record label and as a result she collaborated with various Garage and Indie Rock groups like The Makers, Los Cincos and Bassholes.

What happened next is best summarized in the beautifully penned April March bio available on the Tricatel website, of which this is an excerpt:

The French think Americans are selfish bullies who throw their weight around; Americans think the French are haughty snobs with an annoying propensity to give lessons. The two countries have always had a thorny love-hate relationship. A Frenchman, Tocqueville, wrote the defining treatise on America in the 19th century, while scores of American artists from Gertrude Stein to Josephine Baker and Man Ray have found cultural refuge in France. And now we have April March, ambassador to France from the planet Brooklyn.

[...] You may have seen her name on garage-rocking records by The Shitbirds, The Makers and Los Cincos; you may not know that she recorded several demos (still unreleased) with Brian Wilson in the early '90s, or that she was a principal animator and writer for the cult favorite cartoon Ren and Stimpy. But April's music career kicked into higher gear in 1996, when she met French producer and multi-instrumentalist Bertrand Burgalat. Together, they made "Chrominance Decoder", which came out in 1998 on Burgalat's label Tricatel and the following year in the U.S. on The Dust Brothers' Ideal Records. The New Yorker named "Chrominance Decoder" one of the top ten albums of 1999. In France, the seminal magazine Rock et Folk named the album one of the top one hundred albums of all time!

A longtime francophile, April had already recorded several covers of French songs (her song "Chick Habit" was an English version of "Laisse tomber les filles"; her EP "Gainsbourgsion" was a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg), and much of her own material showed an unexpected grasp of French pop idioms that was as rare in the U.S. as it was in France. The singer, an avid reader, is also more likely to get excited about a novel by Honoré de Balzac or Michel Houellebecq than by the latest radio hit. And so in the past few years April March has comfortably bridged two cultures, becoming a rare pop UFO: a singer and songwriter equally at ease in two languages. The Shakiras and Ricky Martins of this world speak the international language of cash; for April March, being bilingual is the positive side of globalization, the base for a cultural exchange in which an American singer and a French producer transmogrify trans-Atlantic relations into a music that exceeds national definition.

"Dans le yeux d'April March" contains the following pieces:

01. Mon ange gardien (2:11)
02. Glucide (4:09)
03. Magic Ass (3:15)
04. Ningette (3:37)

All tracks were remastered from the original 10" vinyl in December 2011 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include complete original artwork. Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

"Mon ange gardien" is a song originally performed by French singer and actress Chantal Goya in 1966, it was written by French actor Roger Dumas and American guitarist Mickey Baker. Once exclusive to this 10", during the years the song has been published on a few compilations.

"Glucide" is an instrumental version of "Sugar", one of the strongest tracks published on the album "Chrominance Decoder". As far as I know it was never re-released anywhere else.

"Magic Ass", written and performed along with Los Cincos, had already been released on CD in Japan in 1998 as part of the "April March & Los Cincos Featuring The Choir" mini-album.

"Ningette" is another instrumental piece, this time a voiceless version of "Mignonette" - also known as "No Parachute" in its English version - once again taken from the top-quality album "Chrominance Decoder".

The following review of "Dans les yeux d'April March" was written by Douglas Wolk, it is taken from the april 2000 issue of CMJ New Music Monthly. It doesn't add that much, but anyway....

April March generally works the '60s French pop angle, and now she's made a 10" (or, rather, 25 cm) EP, "Dans Les Yeux d'April March" (Tricatel) that's genuinely French rather than simply, er, Fronch. It's on a French label, and largely produced by veteran Franco-pop guy Bertrand Burgalat, who also worked on her "Chrominance Decoder" album. Burgalat's contribution, in fact, is what makes the record tick, and the better two of its four tracks are instrumentals he penned. "Glucide“ sets a funk drummer against a string quartet in an arrangement that suggests unabashed carnality beneath a Parisian sky; "Ningette" is a soundtrack to an imaginary yé-yé go-go video. As for the ones where April sings, "Magic Ass" pairs her with Los Cincos for a cute blues-rock toss-off, and the Burgalat collaboration "Mon Ange Gardien" is worthy of that other person with the initials B.B.

The following feature/interview by Michael Paoletta was published in early January 1999 on Billboard magazine, just a few weeks before "Chrominance Decoder" was released for the American market...

With the Feb. 16 release of "Chrominance Decoder," singer/songwriter Elinor Blake - who records under the buoyant pseudonym April March - is poised to bridge the gap between nostalgic French pop and contemporary American pop.

Released on the Los Angeles-based Ideal Records, the Bertrand Burgalat-produced "Chrominance Decoder" finds Blake immersing herself in the musicality of artists like Françoise Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Air and Stereolab.

"I don’t hear a lot of modem pop music that I love," says Blake, who was bred in New York and resides in Los Angeles. "I mostly listen to old music. I'll always hear elements of things I like but usually not together [in one song]. In older songs, it was always the whole package, and the songs were much more melody-driven."

Mitchell Prank, partner in Ideal Records, notes that this is precisely what caught his ear about Blake. "Her music is so pop-driven," he says. "Yet it's not typical in-your-face [music]. It's more special and definitely more subtle. We believe that's where the treasure lies. Of course, having a producer [Burgalat] who worked with Air doesn't hurt either."

The promotional seeds for "Chrominance Decoder" were planted when Ideal records secured March the opening slot for Air’s stateside tour in October.

"It couldn't have happened at a better time," says Frank. "It was very successful for setting up a good foundation. It allowed us to get her name and sound out to a tastemaking crowd. We believe that people who like Air will also like April."

The set's first single, "Sugar," complete with a Dust Brothers remix, is going to modern rock, triple-A, and rhythm/crossover radio on Jan. 15. Frank says it will be released commercially about two weeks later. To assist with radio promotion, the label hired Mod Rox, a Los AngeIes-based independent promotion company.

At the moment, Blake is self-managed, and all bookings are arranged through Ideal. She is signed directly to Ideal, with the album licensed to Tricatel in France, where it will be released in the spring. Her songs are published by Yé-Yé Music (BMI).

For retail, Ideal, which is distributed by PolyGram, will utilize Mammoth Records' street teams. Says Frank, "We're mailing out 2,000 CDs to retailers to get commitments on initial orders. Our sole purpose is to make people aware of this project." The album will also be available on the label's World Wide Web page,

Bobby Adams, sales manager of Hollywood-based Aron's Records, is sold on April March. "It's so incredibly fresh, and it hits many levels," he says. "I received a sampler a while back and played it for some key customers. Reaction has been very positive. I'm discovering that customers who like Stereolab and [the lead singer from] Broadcast also like April March. This album fits so well into the whole lounge-electronica-pop field."

Prior to taking on the persona of April March, Blake was a member of such punky pop bands as the Pussywillows, the Shitbirds, and the Haves. When not performing on stage, she was an animator whose clients included Archies Comics, "Pee Wee's Playhouse," "Who's That Girl," and "The Ren & Stimpy Show."

With the release of the single "Voo Doo Doll" on Kokopop Records in 1992, April March was born. In the time since, the artist has released five albums and four singles. Recently, her song "Jesus and I Love You" appeared on the soundtrack to "Orgazmo."

"My fondness for [French] yé-yé music began at the age of 18," says Blake, who is 33. "It's so immediate. I was attracted to the authenticity of the voices. You know, girls singing plainly with some really bum notes. It was just so real, and it fit in with all the '60s girl-group stuff I was listening at the time. I just hope my music captures that same immediacy and spirit."

Promotional sticker for "Chrominance Decoder"

...and here's another short interview conducted by Tad Hendrickson, it is taken from the pages of the 22 february 1999 issue of CMJ New Music Report.

Known to her parents as Elinor Blake, April March recently released a Francophilic pop album entitled "Chrominance Decoder" (Ideal-Mammoth). In the past, this muIti-talented singer has collaborated with raw rockers the Bassholes, Air producer Bertrand Burgalat and even Brian Wilson. Also, she previously worked as an illustrator for the Ren & Stimpy cartoon series.

Based on the variety of people you work with, it seems that you meet famous and talented people every day. Is this really how your life is?
I suppose it's true, but all the liner notes are compressed, so it really just looks that way. [My collaborative experiences with big names are] pretty spread out, but I do sort of run into great situations.

How did you meet Brian Wilson?
That came about because I met Andy Paley, who came to a video I was working on... We started working together and he played our stuff for Brian, who is a writing-and-producing partner.

What was it like to work with Wilson?
It was really fun. I was really scared at first, then I realized he was just as scared as me [laughs]. He's pretty shy and I'm pretty shy, so after we got over that, everything was fine.

Do you speak fluent French?
Yeah, I learned it in high school and kept it up. I'm an enthusiastic Francophile. I like a lot of the classic and pop music, and literature as well.

Is singing in French hard?
No, the French language is extremely conducive to singing.

Are you illustrating right now?
No. Just painting. I do portraits of friends, and I did writers for a while.

Are you going to do any more cartoon work?

I prefer painting to animation these days, but you never know.

How long were you at Ren & Stimpy?
I was there until I got fired. [laughs]

The original videoclip of "Mignonette" - one of the best tracks from "Chrominance Decoder" - directed by Bertrand Burgalat, is available here below courtesy of YouTube.

Althought "Dans le yeux d'April March" is sold-out since long time, there are many other April March releases available for sale on the Tricatel website, including a re-issue of the "Chrominance Decoder" CD that comes with extra-tracks, it can also be purchased as a deluxe double-vinyl!

New Tricatel releases have also been published during the last months and a few more are going to be out soon, I strongly encourage you to have a look and discover - or re-discover - one of the coolest french labels of all times.

More information about Tricatel and April March is available here:

If you have any other useful information - especially corrections and improvements to what I wrote above - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!


  1. Excellent anal-logic sounds. Great voice, perfect french. An exciting trip to the grooviest sixties.
    Thanks for this delicious post. Bravo.
    My spanish suggestion is J'aime, you maybe interested in his perfect pop:
    Greetings from Spain.

  2. Thank you very much for sharing this. I've been looking for the "Glucide" track for months... is there a Stereo Candies Facebook page to "like" ?

  3. @GauchoDivino: I didn't know J'aime, what a nice discover! And the video is cool too, thank you!

    @Christophe: thank you Christophe, you're welcome. Stereo Candies is not on Facebook at the moment, maybe one day...




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  5. 1000 mercis!





    If you download any of these files please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know about any broken link and deleted or unavailable files: I'll do my best to quickly reupload them.


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