I promised you guys I would write more about Charlotte Gainsbourg's Terrible Angels EP and studio/live album Stage Whisper, and here is where I give my two-cents on these works.
As many of you already know, Charlotte is daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin (two European icons of the '60s and '70s), and she has managed build a persona and resume not too far removed from her parents'. After doing a little web research, I discovered that she's currently very influential in Paris and is known, in large part, for her unique style (both in personality and in fashion). I may go so far as to say that she's the modern-day Parisian Twiggy, however, if that sounds wrong to you, I'm just a bit off the mark :/. (The article I linked to suggests that "she's the French equivalent of Sofia Coppola," just FYI).
On to the actual music, this album contains strikingly delicious material (not meant as a sexual innuendo, hehe). Over the course of her three albums, she has successfully developed a very appealing style, one that works very well for who she is and where she came from. The Terrible Angels EP was just a brief snapshot of what is given to us on Stage Whisper, and is indeed one which would fail to spoil you for what's in store on the full-length.
The first four tracks and the second (and last) four tracks on the studio side of the album, if listened to consecutively, have very obvious contrasting elements. Terrible Angels (#1) through to White Telephone (#4) go right by your ears in a seemingly dark haze of apathetic, indifferent vocals that feel eerily distant and an overall cold, clinical, and mechanical feel. While that may not sound like very much fun, don't let it deter you--it's pulled-off wonderfully and makes for a very unique listening experience. Despite this as a starting off point, the last half of the studio side is a bit 'clearer' in terms of vocals (mixed more in the center) and emotionally a little bit more 'focused,' for lack of a better explanation. The live portion, on the other hand, is very well recorded and edited, in my humble opinion, and, while I'm no expert on live recordings (not really my cup of tea), the concert sounds effective and would probably be very fun to witness firsthand.
Now, having listened to all three of Charlotte's albums, IRM is no longer my favorite, in fact, between 5:55 and Stage Whisper, IRM pales in comparison. Would I say that her sophomore effort constitutes a temporary loss of 'vitality'? No, IRM is just appealing in a different way (in a less 'groove-oriented' way). I would, however, say that if you enjoyed 5:55 you're sure to like Stage Whisper at least as much.
So there you have it. Charlotte Gainsbourg has secured a reputation, at least in my book, as being just as inventive and musically sophisticated for this day and age as Serge and Jane were for theirs.
Music: 4 out of 5
Sound quality: 4 out of 5
Presentation (liner notes, etc.): 4 out of 5