Rodolphe Burger, the artist with music “philosophical pop”

A singular spoken-sung that imposes an intoxicating presence and maintains its music in a state of weightlessness. An ecstatic blues rock and loops with hypnotic reverb, the textual cut-up stowed with saturated and saturated riffs, the guitar considered as one of the fine arts

For thirty years, Rodolphe Burger has written one of the most beautiful pages of popular and literary music. A music that could even qualify as “philosophical pop.” The name seems odd however for the one who led one of the best formations in France with the group Kat Onoma (1986-2002), before continuing his musical adventure solo. The name seems curious for the founder of the festival C’est dans la vallée, who writes for both Alain Bashung and Jacques Higelin, playing with the same spirit in the company of bluesman James Blood Ulmer or singer Rachid Taha.

A philosophical pop music, in spite of everything, because, as Gilles Deleuze said, who launched the formula and wanted to “do a course in philosophy as Dylan organizes a song,” Rodolphe Burger composes albums as books of images and sounds. With Good , his latest album (Last Band, 2017), he mixes this time the acoustics and electronics, thanks to the rhythm of Christophe Calpini.

The texts ? Poetry uttered. On the phrasing of the German romantics (Goethe for “An Lili” or Büchner for “Lenz”), on the grain of the voice of English-speaking authors of the last century (from Samuel Beckett for “Good” to TS Eliot for “Waste Land”) without forgetting the contemporary French writers, Michel Deguy ( “Nothing and nobody”) to Olivier Cadiot ( “golden Poem” and “Providence”) or Pierre Alféri ( “Happy Hour”), Rodolphe Burger made a direct album and learned, sensitive and thinking.

An irresistible pulsation

Good immediately sets the tone and sets the ambition high. An organic scansion, an irresistible pulsation, a Beckettian voice from beyond the grave leaning against a sublime rise of copper-plated strings. In “Cummings”, the guitarist’s voice is intertwined with a recording of that of the poet E. E. Cummings, whose variations and melodic lines he follows. The charm operates and the archive provides immense vertigo [ . . . ]

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Under the Covers

By Michael Stevenson

Occasionally an artist remakes a classic film or an iconic song, and the effort makes me wonder, “why bother in the first place?” I’ve always felt that it makes more sense to remake lousy movies or records, and try to make these into something halfway decent.

Why remake a masterpiece such as Hitchcock’s Psycho, or James Ivory’s A Room With a View? Wouldn’t it be better to remake Cameron Crowe’s recent films  – Elizabethtown, We Bought a Zoo, and Aloha – and make these something watchable?  And why would a singer make a record titled “[insert name here] Sings Frank Sinatra” or “[insert name here] Sings Patsy Cline”?

Sometimes the Cover or Remake Works

Philip Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was superior to the 1956 original, as was Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit. The Wizard of Oz that we all know and love (1939) was actually a remake of a 1925 bomb. As for music, the late Joe Cocker recorded a song off the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers, and made it his own. The Beatles themselves forever swiped “Twist and Shout” from the Isley Bothers.

Forgive my Rachel Maddow-like preamble, but I now present Rodolphe Burger’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” – a ballsy and brilliant remake of one of the most iconic songs belonging to a true American music legend.

Give it a listen and tell me – what do you think