Dominique Guiot: L’Univers De La Mer 12” (WRWTFWW Records, 2020)
While I’ve been isolating I’ve been watching more movies than I have in years. Between all the reading and record listening that I usually do, I rarely find the time to watch feature-length movies, but I’ve been getting through at least one per day for the past couple of weeks. Being trapped in one small room for ten days has drawn me to movies that take place in rich, immersive worlds. A couple of nights ago I watched Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, and that fit the bill but I found that movie’s satire of bureaucracy interesting to contrast with the present state of America, where no one seems to be steering the ship at all. Some other night (they’re all the same) I tackled all four hours of Ben Hur, which was an equally rich world-building exercise, albeit a totally different world from Brazil.
One film I watched during the first few nights of isolation was La Planète Sauvage, a 1973 French-language animated film. The movie was cool, but one reason I wanted to watch it was because I’ve listened to its soundtrack so much over the past few years. Superior Viaduct reissued that on vinyl a few years back and has kept it in print, so it’s easy to come by. The beautiful cover art drew me toward that record (and the movie is animated in the same surrealistic style), but the music kept me returning to it again and again. It’s perfect music for putting on while I’m working or doing something that requires my attention. Like a lot of great soundtracks, it’s a record that sets a very distinct vibe when you put it on—“sinister jazz in space” maybe?—but also rewards your attention when you give it. If you haven’t checked out _ La Planète Sauvage_—the movie or the soundtrack—I’d encourage you to get on that right away.
If you do like La Planète Sauvage, there’s a good chance you’ll like my staff pick for this week too. L’Univers de la Mer, while not the soundtrack to a specific film, is a 1978 library record by the French composer Dominique Guiot featuring music meant to evoke a vibrant undersea world. While La Planète Sauvage’s palette is mostly acoustic instruments along with a wah-drenched electric guitar, L’Univers de la Mer relies on synthesizers and that, along with the rich evocations of wide-open undersea landscapes, makes it sound like a mix between La Planète Sauvage and 70s synth experiments from Klaus Schulze, Cluster, and Tangerine Dream. Like all the aforementioned records, you can put it on in the background to bring some fantasy to your day, or you can give it all of your attention, letting it transport you into its purpose-built world.
Switzerland’s We Release Whatever the Fuck We Want Records has just pressed up a new version of L’Univers de la Mer featuring the original cover artwork, now presented in its full glory rather than being obscured by text as on the original version. Sorry State has copies in stock right now. WRWTFWW is a label worth keeping an eye on if you’re into this kind of thing… you might remember them from their reissue of Yasuaki Shimizu’s great ambient jazz album Kakashi a few years back or their represses of those killer Grauzone 12” EPs last year.