5 out of 5
Label: WéMè Records
Produced by: Frédéric Alstadt (remastered by)
Damn, shows what I know. (Which is to say: nothing.)
Some very French looking album on a cool, indie electronic label? This has gotta be some chintzy crap that will be a bit too Serge Gainsbourg for my tastes.
But not only is this compilation – brought together by WéMè as a set of tracks for various documentaries, short films, and cop shows – completely mind-blowing for music to have originated out of the 70s, it’s also not something I can generically toss of as “French” (whatever that means to me, which I doubt I can actually effectively clarify except by naming some big French names, a la Gainsbourg), or that I can generically toss of as anything for that matter. My music education is also completely lacking, as, apparently, the seemingly prolific and obscure De Roubaix has garnered attention in recent years for popping up in sampled form from more known artists, encouraging the WéMèsters to start digging up and collecting rarities. And so: Commissaire Moulin Et Autres Scènes De Crimes, or Commissioner Mill and Other Crime Scenes.
Commissioner Mill was – I read – a 70s cop show, and after composing the four awesome cues featured here, which are bouncy on the keys but mysterious as well, a perfect mix of fun and danger, De Roubaix would die in ‘a diving accident.’ We’ll obviously never know what could have accompanied the four variations we’re now hearing, but this set of music is seamlessly put together, with that same sense of intrigue threaded throughout. Occasionally it’s more playful, and occasionally it’s darker, but there’s a definite throughline, such that I assumed this was all one soundtrack before translating some French reviews (such as this one) and reading more on the providence of the music.
And where all of the Commissaire tracks do share themes, and are thus broken up across the A and B-sides, some other tracks which are linked – side A ends with two Bottes 7 Lieues songs; side B has two Femme Au Carré Ballets – are notably distinct from one another, while, again, maintaining an incredible listenability throughout the album.
It is a rather short listen, but these aren’t just cues or ideas. They’re plenty to start swirling thoughts and feelings regarding whatever these various documentaries / shows may have been (and maybe they’re more familiar to a French audience), and absolutely catchy and memorable enough to merit back to back spins of the set. The album is not enough, though, to satisfy my new interest in De Roubaix, meaning I now have another gap in my collection to fill…