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Blog // Sounds
May 9, 2007

Emilie Simon

I am in love! Tonight was the first event I attended as part of the Le French May arts festival here in Hong Kong. The performer was Emilie Simon, in trio mode, performing a selection of her music including one of the songs from the original score for La Marche de l’empereur. Admittedly I bought […]

I am in love!

Tonight was the first event I attended as part of the Le French May arts festival here in Hong Kong. The performer was Emilie Simon, in trio mode, performing a selection of her music including one of the songs from the original score for La Marche de l’empereur.

Admittedly I bought the tickets on something of a whim, having heard of Ms Simon largely through that film but being unfamiliar with the rest of her body of work. The festival guide suggested she was “…often called the French Bjork” – by whom I’m not sure, but that epitaph doesn’t really capture either the essence of her music or her craft as a performer and musician.

Whilst she obviously draws from a similar pool of eclectic beats and techno influences as Bjork, in many ways Simon, at the piano, in singer-songwriter mood evokes memories of Tori Amos and even at times, of Peter Gabriel’s collaborations with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. There was something darkly post-punk about the drive and energy in a lot of her material

In fact, the ability to find beauty, heartbreaking beauty in the midst of sound-scapes that evoked such decay and dischord reminded me on more than one occasion of the master balladeer, Tom Waits. Emilie Simon bears more than a passing resemblance to Waits’s genius at creating great songs that are not afraid to reveal their structure and occasional simplicity, but still surprise you and draw you away into an obsidian parallel universe that is rather like the world we live in, but only more whimsical, haunting and honest.

While you carried away by such wonderful song-craft, it is easy, pleasantly easy to forget how much raw talent is only display. Simon was ably supported by two excellent backing musicians, one on percussion, the other on loops, samples, synths and noise-effects. But at centre stage was Simon’s spectacular voice, deft use of loops and samples, easy touch on the piano and surprising willingness to dig in hard on the guitar.

I walked out of the concert sensing that I was in love. I cannott remember a time in my life when I have not loved music, creativity and aesthetic beauty. Tonight all three were clearly evident and I was fortunate to be sharing the experience with the woman who has chosen to be my wife for over thirteen years. I realised that come tomorrow morning I will write and play music that has, in some way, been inspired to a new level by what I heard tonight. I felt alive, blessed and thankful to have followed the whim to buy tickets for Ms Simon’s performance.

It is a rare talent that can move us in this sort of way and remind us what is good in our lives, of the things and people we love, without sugar-coating or easy cliches. Tonight, that sort of talent was on display here in Hong Kong.

[tags] Emilie Simon, Le French May [/tags]

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