It’s only been six-to-eight months since Tellier dropped what was in my opinion one of the best albums of 2013. I’m still caught up in Confection, I still think it’s wonderful – but I can see that, though I wanted the world to hear it, the world might not have wanted a frothy, gushing horror-score created by Mantovani and Serge after cocktail Happy Hour had just finished. Hey, that’s the sort of thing that gets me hooked on a record – as was the case. But I get that that’s not for everyone.
So for L’Aventura he will probably please anyone that was part of the existing fan base that had slight reservations around the largely instrumental Confection; but he could – yet – pull in (still) more pop-music nerds. It seems he’s been doing that with each release.
Because Tellier loves a concept – or at least a gimmick – and for L’Aventura he recorded in both Paris and Rio to make an album that was an attempt at recapturing his childhood. For this Brazilian odyssey he enlisted the help of the great Arthur Verocai to chart string arrangements – they’re lush, simple but lustrous, glorious. He’s also working with Jean Michel Jarre and Philippe Zdar. And Verocai sourced Brazilian jazz drummer Robertinho Silva, a crucial complement/compliment in much the same way that Tony Allen was the (not-so)-secret hero of Confection.
Here we have Tellier singing again – there’s the proud nods of bass, there is light, flighty percussion and those lovely strings, there’s hints of dance music and still that drunk-Mantovani thing too, but we get to hear the Francophile baritone once again. Goddamn it’s a gorgeous instrument.
After the opening Love – as much of a layover from Confection as this album is ever going to offer; his version, while we’re at it, of Barry White’s Love’s Theme in fact – we get the first highlight, Soul les rayon du soleil. The pliable rhythm, the sumptuous strings and his loved-up crooning. It’s fucking wonderful. And then it’s to fully transplanted exotica for Ma Calypso, a slinky wee jazz-jive on L’adulte and some cool detachment on the title track.
Aller vers le soleil takes in, again, that gift Tellier has, of making his own soundtrack music to imaginary films, such heightened emotional charge, the best of windswept and interesting within a pop song.
But for me it’s the 15-minute Comment revoir Oursinet that is the standout; the tour-de-force the piece-de-resistance, the masterful head-fuckery, the wonder of this album and maybe any of this year, that year or any other. The weird and the wonderful combine here – always Tellier playing to strengths – as he makes a Gallic Soft Parade of half-formed ideas shine. It’s a hint back to the subtle power of My God Is Blue, the hypnotic twirls within Sexuality and the aims of transcendence that were – to me, and, well whoever else, I guess – so palpable with Confection.
After that it really doesn’t matter what fucking happens with this album. But the penultimate track, Ambiance Rio, is kick-ass dance-floor cool and has the best talking-drum rub this side of Bonnie & Clyde. But shhh – don’t tell Seb that, he hates the Gainsbourg comparisons.
L’enfant vert closes the record off – Verocai’s strings so ebullient, joyous and evocative as to recall his own self-titled masterpiece from 1972. As Tellier spits his opening and then slides into the glide of the tune it’s – yes – another highlight. But L’Aventura has already given us so much; as childlike and weird as any photograph of Tellier, as good – as masterful – as any record he’s made.