“These days, you don’t call a thief “a thief”, you call him “a designer”
(Jonathan Geffen, Tel Aviv, sometime in the 70’s)
He was right. It’s the small semantic differences that can turn a potential to something completely different: all you have to do is calling it by a different name.
For example, you can call a random pile of sounds “avant-garde”, and similarly, any group or artist that releases an album can call themselves “a project”. It’s a wonderful escape option: you can invent an alter ego, staying the same artist, but not entirely.
Jack The Ripper is the name of a French group, active in the last decade in France. They made Nick Cave cover-versions and released four albums. Then, when fame did not arrive, they decide to re-invent themselves. So they invented the Fitzcarraldo Project. The point was to call the band with a different name, invite famous singers from different musical fields to write texts, compose and sing them.
The outcome, the album “We Hear Voices!” is a great, delightful, and amazing album. You can add any other superlative you can think of to this list. First, let’s check the participants list – they really succeeded in creating one hell of a Cast.
You can find Tindersticks’ Stuart Staples, Phoebe Killdeer who participated in the Nouvelle Vague project , Dominique A (there is really nothing that I can add to what I’ve already said about this genius), Syd Matters (respect!), Tuxedomoon’s, Blaine Reininger (!!!), Calexico’s Joey Burns, Archive’s Craig Walter and a few others, less familiar.
In case this list did not convince you to go and listen to this album, let’s talk about music.
As a band heavily influenced by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, they cast an old dark European atmosphere is all over this album.
Stuart Staples, with his piercing voice and whining violins turn Les Mefiants into a dramatic saga, breaking quickly with the Nouvelle Vague aunty, who gives a shade of Tom Waits/dance hall jazz/5-am-Las-Vegas-4$-cabaret, to The Gambler. Dominique A is blowing up an emotional bomb the way only he knows how, Syd Matters shows he can tear apart his heart Inside. Tuxedomoon’s Blaine Reininger carries out the best performance in this album in my opinion: he sounds like a reincarnation of David Akles. Joey Burns sounds like he’s singing a Calexico song. Well, that’s quite obvious.
All in all, the group’s genius quality is manifested in perfect match between a song and a performer.
The term ‘project’ is definitely vague, but in Fitzcarraldo’s case it’s the best description there is. Well, actually it doesn’t really matter. If you’re the kind of people that long real theatricality, not cheap imitations, you like the Dresden Dolls, Panic Ensemble and Beirut too, you’d better lay your paws on We Hear Voices – an album that’s not going to change the world, but is be definitely one of the most impressive albums I’ve heard in the last years. Besides, it’s Dominique A singing there. It’s worth only because of that. Really.
As You Slip Away (Feat. Joey Burns)
L’Instable (Feat. Dominique A)
Lips Of Oblivion (Feat. Blaine Reininger)
Les Mefiants (Feat. Stuart Staples)
(Fitzcarraldo Sessions – We Hear Voices, 2009)
Get it on eMusic