February 27, 2011
Brigitte Fontaine recorded a solid string of avantfolk albums for the ineffable Saravah label in the seventies that started with her pop-oriented debut, Est Folle... (1968, arranged by Jean-Claude Vannier!). Beginning in the late 60s, Fontaine partnered up with fellow musician/actor Areski Belkacem; the pair continue to record together today. Their records in the 70s were a mix of theatre performance, non-rhyming chanson folk, and a sophisticated confluence of musical styles accentuated by Areski's exotic percussion and the duo's constant experimentation. Le Bonheur is Fontaine and Areski's follow up to L'Incendie (1974), a cult favorite as the years go by and their most cohesive record (not to say cohesive's the gold standard). Areski also joined Fontaine for Comme à la Radio (1970), a mind-blowing collaborative album with the face painting free-jazz troupe, the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Within a minimalist aesthetic, reflected in their sparse 2-track recording style, the pair create a hushed atmosphere and steadfast intimacy that doesn't appear to age. Naturally, Le Bonheur was recorded in the dead of winter in a theater, a kitchen, and also a studio.