Pharaon de Winter
“Love will remember Pharaon de Winter”, it says at the very end of this record.
Pharaon de Winter was a relatively unsuccessful painter from Northern France who lived between the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th Century. Later, in 1999, Pharaon de Winter was offered a second life in the film Humanité by Bruno Dumont: he was a police officer working on the rape and murder of a little girl. The film was set in the painter’s hometown of Bailleul.
Today, Pharaon de Winter lives again. It’s the name of a band, but also the name of the song that changed its author’s life. The ex-leader of the bands Toy Fight and (Please) Don’t Blame Mexico – the E.Ps First Aid and Michel Foucault, and the album Concorde, in 2011, with the hit song ‘The Protocol’ – Maxime Chamoux’s musical style could be placed somewhere between North-American rock, Spoon, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Prefab Spout and XTC’s sophisticated Brit-pop.
Then, he decided to cut his ties loose: “I was starting to get bored of indie rock and wanted something different”, he explains. “I wanted to sing in French. I wanted to use more beautiful chords. For several months, I searched for a new shape and colour to give to these new songs. And one day, I had a kind of revelation. It was called Pharaon de Winter. From that day on, all the music I loved came together in a particular weave”.
A few months later, the record is here. Not one, but ten songs naturally uniting influences ranging from the popular to the edgy: William Sheller’s precise writing, Lucio Battisti’s warmth, Steely Dan’s refined groove, Arthur Russell’s sense of adventure, Véronique Sanson’s feel for melody.
The songs travel from French – mainly – to English – a few. His usual accomplices are there, Thomas Pirot on drums and Raphaël Ankierman on bass, and are joined by FX Guéant-Mata on the guitars. Mina Tindle’s voice invites itself here and there. And there’s also Canadian musician Sandro Perri’s golden touch, whose album Impossible Spaces, named one of the best albums of 2011 by Pitchfork, continues, four years later, to haunt music lover’s nights the world over.
“It seemed to me like no one had ever made music like his, it sounded like nothing else, and that made it wonderful”, Maxime recalls about his discovery of Impossible Spaces. “I often envied the freedom of that album, the cohabitation of hot and cold, of supple and tense, the unprecedented and totally brazen mixes of colours. That’s what I wanted for my album”.
Produced and mixed by Sandro Perri, Pharaon de Winter is a reflection of its author and its producer: a record of the kind we’re no longer used to hearing, and whose main quality is to unite with baffling ease the apparent simplicity of French song writing and the greatest adventures of pop music.
“Love will remember Pharaon de Winter”, it says.
Love isn’t the only one.