Le Peuple de l'Herbe
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One must say that the opening track « it Won’t Make No Difference » is sounding like a sonic manifesto of music to wear your feet out dancing… The guitar’s self-confidence’s surprising as the collective is meeting once again the challenge : they’re renewing themselves while still sounding the same. Long lasting bands are bound to surprise without losing themselves. & that’s why guitarist Varou Jan has joined, for the band to reach the “NEXT LEVEL”… & there is indeed a lot of guitar playing in this new record!
In the ‘90’s, Varou Jan was part of French legendary Hardcore Punk combo “CONDENSE”. He then turn score composer & is reviewing now with “NEXT LEVEL” the wide spectrum of guitar playing, from funk licks to heavy rock riffs, eastern melodies to surf rock & slide guitar. The most surprising is that it actually works: Varou’s guitars fit well within the LE PEUPLE’s urban funky groove, his riffs are as varied as LE PEUPLE’s inspiration, & also mix self-confidence & genius in the art of blending. The guitar makes compositions sound bigger, answers the relentless rhythm section & finds its place within the samples & the scratching. A remarkable achievement, it’s difficult not to be infected by the energy displayed on this contagious album. “GAIA IS ON FIRE” is chanting a still very savage JC001 -the man with the ultra-tight flow- & this second track confirms the diagnosis: this record floats like a banner, & one cannot tell whether it’s a call for rioting, raving or rolling another one…In any case, it’s working : « we got what you need, our music gets you hyper than any type of weed ».
The hip-hop ballad “Etoile Rouge” done by Marc Nammour -leader of French rap band “La Canaille”- is as far as I know the very first feminist love song. This is not its only unique quality as it is just impossible not to feel the pressure increase, & then one realizes that hiphop can be good also with proper musical backing… The album runs through various & distinct influences. Some are expected, say Jamaïcan, Rap, Rocksteady… & others quite unexpected : Cajun or Heavy Metal… Funky, evocative & even a bit nostalgic, “What A Shame” is JC001’s second contribution & also a great dedication to the classy love song cause. Under Bayou influence, “La Lune Est Croche” is surprising then addictive, Le Boom is a high dance exercise, the martial hit “Class War” is a proper killer track while the more classic “Rude Bwoy” & “Tell The DJ…” are teasing our tailbones. The record provides pleasure, a physical one & a very peculiar energy. It’s one of those records that help going through life, that make you want to besiege the city or attack the town. It’s not in a devastated Paris that the action’s taking place in “Next Level”, the proper direction would rather be The New Orleans French Quarter. It’s hot, wet, charged, intensive yet gladly magical but also riddled with distress, worries & rubble. It’s organic. The sounds layout, the groove - “feel good” music but with a lot of anger within. The album has a good spirit without being overly sentimental.
LE PEUPLE goes on assembling his ultimate DJ mix - combining the jobs of an archivist, a talent spotter, exhuming & exploring new frontiers at the same time. “NEXT LEVEL” is like a train, either upper sophisticated or patched up & build from second hand bits & pieces, we don’t know, but it’s a supersonic engine, & from its window we can see the Bayou, the East Coast -full speed ahead- we jump on Classic Rock riffs, make the turntables bounce, rush under sampled bridges, in the grooves of old vinyls, standing up on a longboard under the Essaouira’s sun, going through Rock Steady & Early Reggae Dub beaches -detour via the Jamaican Ghetto- crossing old Heavy Metal references from North to South , tearing down the Funk, it’s swaying. Sonic archeologists, they make the samplers crackle & sizzle & it’s working. Times, styles, matters, references, sonic landscapes : they’re all here, forming a sonic labyrinth, really easy to access but still full of discoveries. It’s a time tunnel, a multi-faced sonic factory, a vision of the Atlas of Musics, that come together like a jigsaw. & LE PEUPLE’s collective, being now a master at this mapping game, definitely knows how to do it.
The record is flexible. Thinking big. Racing down, sweeping down & keeping the bodies up, making them move. For sure this “NEXT LEVEL”, seventh album of the people from Lyons enlisted under the banner of weed, will be even better when on stage, where the collective excels. Clearly, the live version of “NEXT LEVEL” should be a big blow in the face, one of those that clears your head, a tour definitely not to be missed.
Virginie Despentes, July 2014