A terrific and charming Domino debut from Frenchman Fránçois Marry.
Martin Aston 2012
Google the words ‘E Volo’ and the first two pages list an ‘e-volo multicopter’ ("a vertically-starting, human-carrying transportation device") and an architectural design magazine. As it turns out, Fránçois Marry’s latest album title is simply a palindrome. But nevertheless E Volo Love has a strong onomatopoeic power, suggesting mystery, enchantment and romance; all properties this terrific and charming record has in spades and shovels.
That Fránçois & the Atlas Mountains are Bristol’s latest sensation adds another layer of intrigue. E Volo Love may be the Frenchman’s Domino label debut but it’s his fourth in total. Moving from Sainted in southwest France to Trip-Hop City in 2003 to teach French, bringing his trumpet along for the ride, he’s played with Bristol’s Movietone and Glasgow’s Camera Obscura while releasing albums on King Creosote’s Fence label. Domino’s interest makes sense given Marry shares a delicate, restless and melodic touch with (fellow Domino signee) Conor O’Brien of Villagers. But Marry is totally his own man, infusing Francophone pop (chanson, Serge Gainsbourg), Afro-pop (his mother grew up in Cameroon; the album was mixed by Tinariwen studio bod Jean-Paul Romann) and indie-pop (the spindly, sweet kind, between Camera Obscura and Tigermilk-era Belle and Sebastian).
So consider E Volo Love as some sort of aural atlas. Africa comes clearest into view on Edge of Town and the album’s bookends Les Plus Beaux and Do You Want to Dance. Glasgow pops up in City Kiss and Slow Love; France is most visible in Azrou Tune, Cherchant Des Ponts and Bail Eternel (recorded in a Sainte church with a celestial coda of Latin choristers). Piscine is a virtual Eurostar trip, from the point where Marry resembles a French Momus to the subsequent (and subtle) impression of UK house. The press release talks up North Africa too, but the view from Morocco’s Atlas Mountains is more of a subliminal effect. Marry also sings in French and English, sometimes echoing Marc Bolan’s warble and precise diction, which adds yet another layer of offbeat beauty. I think I’m falling in E Volo with Fránçois…