France - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 24 - 10/05/98
L'ère de Rien
Blankass (diminutive of 'blanc-cassis', the aperitif with white wine and
blackcurrant), is one of the best French rock groups, with Noir Désir and Louise attaque.
The band has existed since 1990. However, two musicians of the band already possessed
a sound musical reputation at this time. Indeed, they founded in 1981 a punk band
named Zéro de Conduite, only 10 years old. Essentially influenced by The Clash and Gun
Club, they quickly signed with the label RCA, did concerts with Gun Club and U2
(Printemps de Bourges, France 1983), and with The Clash (Balard, Paris). They inaugurated
Le Zenith (a famous concert hall in Paris) in 1984 with Charles Trénet and Jacques
Higelin. After several 7" and the album Off The Track released in 1988 (with the
re-issued Les Sucettes by Serge Gainsbourg), they splitted up in 1990...
... and started again with a new group named Blankass.
J. Ledoux (guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, percussion), G. Ledoux (voice,
accordion), O. Robineau (drums), N. Combrouze (acoustic guitar), P. Ribeaudeau (flute,
sax) and B. Marande (bass) chained up then 200 concerts for 4 years in France (small
concert halls as far as Les Francofolies of La Rochelle) or in foreign countries (Les
Francofolies of Montreal or Astafford ahead of 25000 people). Their first album named
La Couleur des Blés (Musidisc,1995) sold about in
100.000 copies. Their influences are descended from their passions
for Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Tri Yann or Noir Désir. After a new tour,
including support for The Cranberries at Paris, and the prize 'Roger Seiller du Rock
Français' awarded by the SACEM (spring 97), the band is back with a new album
released September 2nd by their new label Universal Music, called L'Ère de Rien.
This album confirms all the musical talent of Blankass, muscle and country rock
scattered with Celtic tones, reminding sometimes of The Pogues. As usual, the
lyrics are made up of simple but never naive stories about life, with a committed but
never violent tone, and finally always tinged with optimism. There's also an encounter
between Edith Piaf and rock music. The album begins with the song Pas des Chiens, setting the tone to
the album through the text ("j'ai le teint fissuré des tours de mon quartiers / j'ai les yeux
cimentés des murs des mon quartier") and the music (power of electric guitars). After
L'Ère de Rien and Ce que tu n'es pas, with more melodic rock strains, close to
the group Louise Attaque, the track Maître à Penser contrasts sharply with its
pessimistic tone ("pas d'issue quand on veut changer / de nos rêves pleins d'argent restent les
pessimism illustrated by the desolate landscape on the record sleeve.
Startling contrast then with D'où je Viens, with more joyful sonorities, and Le Fil de l'Epée, with its
Celtic rock (accordion). After Le Silence est d'Or, close to Noir Désir, Blankass
re-issues a very good version of Death or Glory from The Clash. But the band is certainly more
comfortable with French lyrics. After the illusory rebellion of La Belle
Armée ("j'avais rêvé d'écouter nos voix se lever, gueuler qu'on est un feu de colère
and Tous Contre Un, the album ends greatly with the surprising Tango du Dedans, a
very good "tango-rock" (!).
L'Ère de Rien may be, like the first album, the consecration album for a
band awarded by the 'révélation de l'année 97 en France' and 'groupe Français de l'année
98' prizes (respectively the 97' revelation band in France and the 98' French group).
Copyright © 1998 Patrick Dubail