Benjamin Schoos Night Music, Love Songs LP Vinyl

€ 24.00

Belgian-born Francophile Benjamin Schoos doesn't sleep much. Instead he spends his nights thumbing through novels in front of the black-and-white flicker of old science-fiction movies, swimming in the stillness and hush of a world outside momentarily calm. It was in this “nocturnal ambience”, as he calls it, that his latest selection of piano-led Parisian pop songs, each one like a slow kiss amid the madness of Belleville patisserie, came to him. 'Night Music, Love Songs', is Schoos' Third solo album, and the follow-up to 2014's remarkable 'Beau Futur' – an electronic fantasia of stories of stuntmen, astronauts and sun-soaked Italian villas. This latest charge into haunting synths and melodies that glisten and waver like street lights in the Seine strips back his sound of old to bare, affecting essentials – a lilting listen full of warm, misty-eyed romance that questions what it is to love someone. “It's a very particular feeling...” explains Schoos. “One that can move and shake you as much as it can make you suffer.”

“Both women and the night are muses of this album,” says the one-time Eurovision Song Contest representative for Belgium, but that's not where his inspiration ends. The glacial minimalism of Erik Satie influences parts of 'Night Songs, Love Music'; the pre- and post-war French chanson of Charles Trenet and Henri Salvador elsewhere. “Soft jazz and sunshine pop” were other factors in its making but one record in particular convinced him to forgo some of the wild-eyed stories of his previous records – 2012's 'China Man vs China Girl' was about a broken-down wrestler, based on an action figure his son owned – to confront the twin highs and lows of love. “I really love the Lewis album 'L’amour.' It convinced me you could make a record on this theme and evoke a dream in Paris.”

That dream takes Schoos – who memorably collaborated with Laetitia Sadier on the stirring 'Je Ne Vois Que Vous', earning him a place on the BBC 6 Music A-list – here through old Elka drum machine beats ('Un Fille En Or') and lush saxophone solos ('I Love You'). It takes him on 'Le Matire Du Monde' to a smoggy den of meanies (“I've always loved songs about bastards,” he says) and on 'Le Grand Paquebot Va Sombrer', translated in English to 'The Big Ship Is About To Sink', to a gorgeous moment of serious strangeness. “That track is about a guy who disguises himself as a woman to save his own skin on the Titanic, as women and children are the first people to be saved in case of emergency,” Schoos explains. “It starts as a transgender song and then we discover the fraud.”

Written and recorded in twilight hours at Schoos' studio – “a cabinet of curiosities,” he describes it, full of dusty string simulators and old echo and reverb tape recorders – ''Night Music, Love Songs'' has an impulsive heartbeat befitting a man who once did a journey in the footsteps of the famous Arthur Rimbaud, simply because he loved the Marseille man's surrealist poetry. “I began with improvisations. I start the rhythm box and add an improvised instrumental melody on the piano,” recalls the songwriter. “Once this basis is stable, I finally build my songs. I loved the minimalist sound my strange tools were producing. Finally, everything took shape once I added the lyrics – the last step in songwriting as I always favour melody.”

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