L’éclair Fontaine – Culture / Next

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Fifty-five years of career and twenty albums on the clock: Brigitte Fontaine has never returned to the ranks. Insubmissive, unpredictable, theatrical, provocative. She is a punk and wild figure, a subversive and rebellious icon. Contrary to social conventions and taboos, the priestess of independence of mind allows herself words, expressions, and scents of her own. Undermined by health concerns – a fractured vertebrae and severe depression -, she had to wait seven years to give back her new discography. Newfoundland (read Release January 27) is a high tension rock disc, animated by this singular spoken phrasing around which death revolves. A look back at some of his recent bona fides without faith or law.

“Vendetta” (2020)

Is it the magnitude of the figures regarding gender-based and sexual violence that provoked his vengeful ire? Enraged and radical, Brigitte Fontaine brandishes the middle finger for men. “Masculine assassin / La vendetta du con / It’s the death of the asshole / We impale all the males / Neither forgiveness nor demo / Pretty parliamentarian / Long live the armed struggle / Down with the strong sex / To death, to death, to death.” The misandre subject turns in loop, destructured and thwarting the wise alternation verse-chorus. Steep guitar riff, carnivorous grumbling at the end of the song. She does not consider herself as a feminist (a word she hates) but in solidarity with all women. In his repertoire and his books, male domination and gender inequality recur in a fairly recurring way (the Chop, Patriarchy…).

“To the devil god” (2013)

With this song in the shape of an oxymoron and to the rhythm of an undulating melody of chaabi, the poetess in unsupervised freedom turns into furious anticlerical. “To the devil god / This old mafia / King of the bigots / Sect of crooks / Collabos / Niqueur of teenagers / Burners of virgins / Lickers of virgins …” Needless to say, the song did not invade the playlist of the French Christian radio stations network. Caught in the blasphemous crime, she gobbles up the butts, the priests, the Bible, and grants her salvation only to the great merciful. On the song God Go To Hell, which appears on his new album, we find the same melodic line and the same sentence chanted this time in three languages, Arabic, English and French.

“Gilles de la Tourette” (2011)

Again, this very short piece (a minute and a half) clashes as well on the substance as on the form. In a disturbing atmosphere rocking on a tribal cadence, Brigitte Fontaine begins her speaking by “Ladies and Gentlemen / And dear shareholders / I want to tell you”, before taking a short break and swinging an uncontrolled slew of flowering curses: “Motherfucker motherfucker / Asshole asshole badly assembled / Pissing wanker / Sucking bitch.” She thus wears Gilles de la Tourette’s syndrome to disown the immorality of financial capitalism. If she is not affected by this hereditary neurological disorder, the singer has never hidden suffering from an incurable mental and nervous disease.

“Prohibition” (2009)

“I am old and I bugger you / With my dragonfly look / I am old and I am going to die / A little forgotten detail.” This cult refrain has become a slogan. The public rejoices by taking it in chorus during the concerts. Brigitte Fontaine tackles the prohibitions of contemporary society and especially pulls out the claws because we relegate the elderly and their sexuality to the closet of convenience. What is less known is that the song was born after an eventful journey in Eurostar. Reprimanded three times for smoking a cigarette in the toilet, the rowdy diva was greeted by a horde of police when the train arrived in London. The delivery of a seemingly beefy medical certificate saved him from going through prison.

“The Veil at School” (2004)

A song in duet with Areski Belkacem, longtime companion, artistic accomplice who mainly composed his music. Bouncing back at the time on the veil affair, annoyed by her media exposure, Brigitte Fontaine seized the subject and used learned language. “The veil at school / The sex of angels / Crazy fariboles / Chickadees brawls / Byzantine tournament / Quarrel that grazes / The tender and the saint / And the law of jails …” No position taken during this piece at the oriental melody (“Everyone is right / None is right”) until this final where the thirst for freedom of this now octogenarian takes over, which ends with the words of Rabelais: “Do what you want.” In a way, the motto of the ideal school according to Pantagruel.

Patrice Demailly

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