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Bertrand Belin, futuristic shaman – RFI Musique

On vision drum, his seventh disc, the elegant Bertrand Belin makes his metaphors, his images dance on electro sounds with rockabilly echoes… The opportunity also to lift the veil on his inner worlds and his existential paths.

On the beats electro in synthetic material, on a plastic sound, the first word of the disc, sung by his voice of elegance, slightly pinched, rises, like a dawn: Carnival… Carnival…” And Bertrand Belin to sing the other side of man”the victory and defeat”, the hour of glories, the hour of beasts”… And to sink, in the hypnotic magma of this party, oiled to the beak” — a metaphor that so perfectly describes the head-over-heels world of a carnival day.

There is in this tall, slender and feline man, with the silhouette of a dandy, with an agile and flexible verb, the taste for images that sing and snap, combined with an economy of words: In my songs, I am not talkative. When I want to expand, I write books”he confesses.

His rare words strewn like pebbles are however enough to call up dense paintings which dance, ideas, spectra of colors: his long line of drunks, spoilsports and brake eaters”his legacies, his phallus/angelus rhymes, his obsessions as a gold digger, his “streets full of words, tears, banners”his hallelujahs and his bebop-a-lula…

Its eleven titles, like a catharsis, a party, a quest for intimate truth, oscillate on this subtle balance between profane and sacred, pagan celebration and spiritual ceremony, life and death, dance and prayer. So he wonders about “the multiple transcendental questions and other possible elucidations most likely to soothe our nerves, to cling to the world, to cure us of our existential vertigo: sciences, philosophy, theology, churches, drugs, camaraderie…” And music! Because, for sure, this disc outlines some answers.

Writing, this fragile bridge of strings

For those who struggle to define themselves as a simple “singer” – “I write books, I act in films, too…” – words, his raw material, seem to come to the rescue of his metaphysical questions, to help his “being in the world”.

For him, writing books and writing songs are part of the same essential game:Between the two there is the same perilous, delicate path, this fragile rope bridge between the inner life and its verbalization. But for the songs, it’s concentrated: a fine engraving…” There is above all, he says, this subtle alloy between words and music, which are inseparable. “It’s as if the word was the subject and the melodies/harmonies the verbhe confirms. Depending on the rhythms, the musical colors, the pulsation attached to it, a text can radically change meaning. And vice versa…”

During the writing of this disc, Bertrand Belin immersed himself in two other albums: Blast off through the wicker of Art Feynman and jumping the shark by Alex Cameron. In both cases, what fascinated me was the precious work of the synthetic material. And that’s what I tried to achieve on vision drum : a collusion between a synthetic sound and a certain type of pulsation from acoustic musiche enlightens. In my creation, there is electronic grain, but also rockabilly echoes… All this results from a process of decantation, from a sort of barely conscious digestion.

To do this, Bertrand Belin worked in symbiosis with the musician and director Thibault Frisoni. The mixing was then done by Renaud Letang. From this duo work results a very “vertical”with a solid beat provided by drum machines, an electro sound that rises in waves” from his previous albums.

As its title suggests, vision drum (also a nod to the cult pop group Television) summons a kind of shamanism of the future, an ancestral imagination, united with references to science fiction. As if Bertrand Belin had attempted the adventure of an “inner vision”.

An introspective journey

Composed during the pandemic, the disc was indeed the occasion of a journey in itself. The singer remembers this very special moment of the first confinement, with this imposed silence and immobility. This tragic moment, this exceptional parenthesis allowed us to explore ourselves a little differently, to experience a new relationship to time, another way of listening to ourselves and others… he said. I, who have been changing cities regularly for 25 years, have tasted for the first time the benefits of a home… And the grandeur of a city at rest.”

Thus, intimate flashes run through this disc. In Cleared of your doubtsthe singer delivers his current of thought: I am a doubterhe says. For me, hesitations, questioning remain essential values”. In Nationalhe rolls in his mouth this strange word: “I knead ‘national’ like a child turning a word around in his mouth, chanting it in an attempt to decipher a hidden meaning that is not self-evident.”

In this record, Belin releases bits of himself. If I don’t flaunt my problems, I nevertheless invest my own intimate experience in my recordshe confides. My songs push me to my limits, they lift the veil on dark, unsuspected corners. Music allows me to cure my illness as a human being. She helps me escape the tyranny of needles. It is the smoke of a personal fire, and perhaps also, I hope, signals sent to others.”

Bertrand Belin vision drum (Wagram) 2022
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