Le collage de France

Langage ment

Out January 26, 2024

Les Disques Pavillon

Following their acclaimed debut EP (Rue des Boulet, out early 2023), Le collage de France are continuing their investigation into the words and ills that trouble France, from its Jupiterian summit (and its ‘premiers de cordée’) to the (yellow) life jackets (‘those who are nothing’), on a debut album that clarifies and refines their singular songwriting. Set to a lively, melodious, heady baroque pop soundtrack, Rémi Nation (also the founder of the group Orouni) explores the different functions of language to talk about love and politics in 12 songs, highlighting the ambiguity that constantly inhabits words, conversations and speeches, and the resulting lack of understanding. From addiction to social networks (“Autoporté”, “Jamais tranquille”) to the fragmentation and compartmentalisation of society into sociological groups (“L’archipel”, inspired by Jérôme Fourquet’s essay L’Archipel français) or communities (“La malachite”), The story also takes in police violence (“Le vent du boulet”), the trickle-down theory (“Monts et merveilles”) and political interference in our clothing choices (“Un peu de tenue”). Rémi Nation exposes all these contradictory and oppressive injunctions in a language that is both cryptic and playful.


Faithful to the popular and universalist ideal that inspires the institution whose name he has hijacked (Le Collège de France, which since 1530 has offered free courses in all areas of literature, science and the arts), Rémi Nation combines this ultra-modernity with a classical culture, He freely associates the Ariane rocket with the one that helped Theseus get out of the labyrinth (“Flagrance décollée”, a delicate anagrammatic declaration), multiplying formal research (“Les biches et les faons”, all chorus and heart, “Méthode au logis”, hyper-corrected when it goes from oral to written), evoking with tenderness the richness of children’s language (“Le langage de force”). There is also joy, love and a great curiosity for others, all others, in these songs.


This is also expressed in the collective dimension of this project, which includes many musicians, first and foremost Cyriane Girouard (Aldwin, Cymbaline) who sings with her clear, airy voice a good half of the lyrics on the album (solo or duet), but also Marie Pierre and Ari for the female vocals. Recorded at Studio Tropicalia (Paris) and mixed by Guillaume Jaoul, Langage ment unfurls ambitious, spacious pop music, underpinned by the unflappable rhythmic base of drummer Antoine Kerninon (Jil Is Lucky) and bassist Théodora De Lilez (Barbagallo, Lucie Antunes). Jérôme Pichon’s colourful guitars (Canari, Barbara Carlotti) and Steffen Charron’s more abrasive ones, along with Rémi Foucard’s skilful string orchestration and Raphaël Thyss’s brass orchestration, create a range of moods, from ethereal synthpop to baroque psychedelia, featuring marimba, horn, harp and bass clarinet.  But it is above all Rémi Nation’s words themselves that, often reduced to their simple sonority, become music, giving rhythm to the song and unfolding the melody.


Elli & Jacno on Lacan’s couch, Bashung chatting with Bourdieu, Gainsbourg responding to Macron’s ‘at the same time’ with expressions with double meanings or drawers, the great Anglo-American melodists (Zombies, Left Banke, Vampire Weekend, Foxygen) converse with linguist Roman Jakobson – these are just some of the guests on this virtuoso French-language pop, where sound and meaning collide in a bittersweet inventory, a harsh yet tender portrait of France in 2024. Contrasting the perception of sound (collage) with the search for meaning (college), Rémi Nation and his group turn obvious pop into the unexpected medium of a rhyming flow of associations of ideas, not so far removed linguistically from some of today’s rappers. With Langage ment, Le collage de France follows in a tradition that is both playful and esoteric, allowing coded messages, whether amorous or political, to be passed on in subtext, underhand or contraband.