Green United Music
Review by Kent Manthie
Here is something worth sitting up and paying attention to: the eponymous CD of Woodkid, the nom de plume of Lyon-born Yoann Lemoine. Born in 1983 in the Southern France town of Lyon, Lemoine was always a precocious, artistic kid. He eventually attended the Emile Cohl School, where he studied illustration and animation. After that he moved to London and attended Swindon College for a special screen printing process course. In 2004 Lemoine settled in Paris, where he currently calls home.
In 2005-06 he briefly worked with French filmmaker Luc Besson’s crew and worked on the project Arthur and the Invisibles. A year later he found himself working with a real up-and-coming filmmaker – Francis Ford Coppola’s brilliant daughter Sofia (Suicide Virgins, Somewhere and Lost in Translation). When Yoann worked with Coppola, he helped her with her film Marie Antoinette. For his part, Yoann directed a series of “roughs” for her.
Lemoine has also directed some music videos and still carries a strong interest in the film medium. Lately, however, he’s been focusing on his musical skills. Since 2011 he has released a series of singles and EPs. He also put out an EP a few years ago, Run Boy Run.
In between all this, Lemoine has used his cinematic skills to make videos for vapid popstars Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and someone named Lana del Rey as well as the Mystery Jets’ video “Dreaming of Another World”.
It’s a good thing that, as Woodkid, he has finally come out with a full-length CD. This album is a real iconoclastic work. It’s a unique piece of art. The baritone vocals are backed by classical music. In some cases it sounds like you’re about to enter into a symphony or sonata, but then he starts singing and – well, it actually works!
The first few songs have a heavy classical presence. The introductions to the songs start out with lush orchestrations, lovely strings, etc. Then he starts singing in a quiet way that complements the music nicely.
The opening track, “Run Boy Run” brings the listener into that classical aura and sets the stage for the album to come. Then “Ghosts Lights”, “Iron”, “Conquest of Spaces”, for example, are nice ethereal vocal sonatas.
Towards the end, the mood lightens a bit, almost to a post-classical, Gershwin-esque crooning that is good for a change-up so as not to weigh listeners down – songs like “Stabat Mater”, “The Shore” and the closer, “Falling”, which ends up the album quite nicely.
Anyway, if I were you, I’d keep an eye out for this slick Frenchman. No Daft Punk, he, Lemoine may cater to venal, yucky pop slop, but don’t let that impair your judgment of what his music is. Also – for those interested in seeing more of his cinema work, you can always Google him with the word “film” or “filmography” to see what comes up. Bon Appetit! -KM