Mansetlandia – a crab with human claws: “by the mossy paths…”

In 2022, Manset is still the same, so far away, still obsessed with an exotic and timeless world that has become unattainable. however, A crab with human claws obviously contains moments of striking beauty that we should not deprive ourselves of for anything.

© Nicolas Comment

In the country, for people aged 7 to 77 years…

A young girl walked with delight in the land of gingerbread… “. This wobbly rhythm, this strange voice, which has hardly changed since then Individual travelthese exotic images, this bestiary, which is always enriched with new sea animals or new big cats… This Cuffas we have always loved it, it is Cuff which returns to us to remind us in the midst of modern chaos of the promise of an earthly paradise: ” Two little chimpanzees were chasing each other on the branches… one of them dared to kiss the dragonfly on the cheek of the other… “.

Crab cuff with human clawsFour years have passed since the release Aboard the Blossomthe previous volume of the annals of the country of Cuff : ” Mansetland » is the shortcut under which Gerard Manset, the most mysterious and overlooked musician in French music, has been releasing his new albums for some time now. We don’t really know what that means (even if, interestingly enough, another artist dear to us, Elliot Murphyalso created its own territory, ” Merfiland !), but in any case, nothing could surprise us more, since this true original has been making music since the very beginning of the 70’s, which is more than fifty years. Music, as well as photography, literature and many other things that, in any case, reach a smaller and smaller audience. And of course not A crab with human claws – despite its clever title, a pun that will amuse all readers between the ages of 7 and 77, but will also be understood by those who have frequented the other crab’s workshop – that tonight will change the state of things…

Aboard the Blossom marked a welcome return to the more direct, almost rock style of the 80s albums, but suffered from poorly controlled ambition, a disappointing fresco side. And then there were certain texts that were difficult to get attached to: somewhere, at almost 75 years old, Cuff the poet seemed to speak like a boomer, nostalgic for a world where the exotic made the colonizers dream, where women were beautiful, virginal, and in their place. It was probably a misunderstanding, but it hurt us and it prevented us from fully sticking with the album.

An exotic and primitive world…

A crab with human claws it is something completely different, even if musically we remain in the same musical vein: a collection of 10 titles that, while maintaining a consistent part of references to the exotic and primitive world that is the heart of the artist’s universe, is undoubtedly closer to us, at least temporarily speaking. And this time there are even a few light pieces: a melody let uswhich in the “heavy” discography of Cuffcan act almost as a single or even energy Marilu-marilu). Of course, and this will be a reproach to which you will have to spend your entire career Cuffdespite our love for it, the use of very “French pop” instruments and production clearly devalues ​​songs that in another context could become true classics of our music, on a par with the best Bashung Where Gainsbourg.

Another major problem with this album, which we’d love to love unconditionally, is the tendency to drag on the titles to an unwarranted length: Marilu-marilu starts off well, but struggles to justify its 13 minutes while the other five tracks approach or exceed seven minutes. Even if this “silliness” is undoubtedly part of the charm of this man, it is impossible not to think that, shortened, concentrated, these almost all great songs would make up a forty-minute record that would be part of the Top 5 discography Cuff.

So close to my heart…

Let us deal with adversity with a good heart and enjoy the many moments of pure beauty where the elegance of “classic” lyrics meets the deep vibration of music that puts its fundamental melancholy at the service of painting a better world, but always far away…past, present or future. Because with this album, everyone will be able to have a heart-to-heart dialogue: the war that threatens the party in the village. Hope isn’t it Ukrainian? Animal symbolism and psychoanalytic torment Panther are they not a bold attempt to confront the Oedipal chaos that is also ours? And then there is Love Storya song so close to the heart that it would not be spoiled in the most beautiful album Cuffit is unforgettable Kingdom of Siam (the real one, the one from 1979).

So yes, this music suffers from the unsettling effect of the distance between them Cuff and us, the distance that now seems impossible to overcome. It also testifies to fundamental strangeness, up to kitsch, sometimes bordering on the ridiculous: the text of the last title, the source of truth love is probably going badly (phrases like ” Celadon walked along mossy paths, abstract labyrinths of an allegorical fairy tale… ”, it definitely segments your audience…). It’s that simple – in fact it’s always been easy, even when Cuff it wasn’t even thirty yet – to reject, even mock this music; however, it would be acceptable to miss a rare BEAUTY.

Eric Debarnot

Mansetlandia – a crab with human claws
Mark: Parlophone
Publication date: September 9, 2022

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