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Saturday, 13 November 2010

Griff says; Come down from the mountain, Top Montagne

I have a nice combination of music and visual arts for you this evening. As you'll hopefully know, I'm rather keen on artist/musician fusion (see Colorform, mkf, entertainment for the braindead) and, as I'd like to begin blogging a little about lo-fi artists, as well as musicians, I admire, I'm confident that this should be an agreeable little taster for you. The band is called Top Montagne (pictured), they come from Paris, France, and remarkably the band line-up contains, not just one, but two excellent visual artists.

I'll begin at the beginning. Back in the days when Myspace was a thriving community for aspiring musicians to meet and share their art, I became friendly with a young musician and graphic artist called Pierre Chandeze. Pierre had attracted my attention as he was a rather fine purveyor of that most evocative, and yet most neglected instrument; the musical saw. Rather infuriatingly, he also seemed to have an almost inhuman work rate and every other week he was playing on someone else's song, or producing their cover art, or designing their website. He also found time to create a distinctive series of art works featuring 'ugly animals' (pictured).

I was rather fond of these and for quite a while the above freaky sea-creature was my pc desktop picture. Anyway, Pierre is still at it and last month one of the bands he plays with, Top Montagne, released their album 'J'aime Pas La Musique'. The album contains 14 brilliant little, quirky, home-produced, folk-pop masterpieces and features those perennial Griff favourite's; the glockenspiel, the melodica and the concertina, but of course, this time with the added bonus of the aforementioned saw to add a bit of whimsical Gallic charm. Naturally, this being Streetlamp, the album is available as a free download but, interestingly, not from one of the usual sites. No, 'J'aime Pas La Musique' is available only on comic book artist David Snug's website. In fact, 'J'aime Pas La Musique' is also, the name of the next David Snug comic book and will include the Top Montagne album inside. Unfortunately, the comic book is not yet completed but, for now, feel free to download the album. So, you're no doubt wondering, who is David Snug? David Snug is the psuedonym of Guillaume, the band's main composer. He also provided the wonderful album cover art as well as other diverse artworks (below) for the band. Like Pierre, he has his own distinctive and idiosyncratic style and his site is well worth a visit.

While it's creditable to laud the band's in-house artists I shouldn't neglect the other band members, so I'll correct that now. The full Top Montagne line-up is: Aude (vocals, glockenspiel, melodica, concertina, flute...), Guillaume (guitar and percussion), Hélène (oboe and backing vocals) and Pierre (guitar, musical saw). I've added two songs from the album to soundcloud so that you can have a listen (below). I think you'll like it!
08 les animaux - Top Montagne by SadPanda

11 c'est pas fait - Top Montagne by SadPanda

I hope you enjoyed that. If you want to hear similar I should also mention that; Guillaume and Pierre also play with the band Quetzalli who have free music available at CLLCT, Guillaume also fronts The David Snug Trio, Pierre is a member of Sean Croft, and finally (phew), Pierre's solo music work goes under the name of Carton Sonore. Carton Sonore's music is free and can be found on, CLLCT and bandcamp. You may also remember that a Carton Sonore track 'Dérive' was also featured on Daydream Generation No. 9 (along with a sighrens track), which can be downloaded here.
If you liked Pierre's 'ugly animal' art then you might want to buy one of his rather fine self-produced t-shirts or bags from here. As it's getting close to Christmas might I suggest that these would make excellent presents for family and friends. Now, how many music blogs do you know that help with the Christmas shopping? Yes, as always, The Streetlamp likes to go that extra mile.




  1. You said the musical saw is a "most neglected instrument". Well, not any more! There is an annual musical saw festival in NYC. It was all over the news on TV. Here is a video from the festival's website: