Review: Vox Populi! - Mystic Entertainment (2009)


artist: Vox Pop­uli!
release: Mys­tic Enter­tain­ment
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Infrasti­tion
dur­a­tion: 77:19

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Mys­tic Enter­tain­ment is some­thing of an archival release, span­ning the years 1984-2009, and it served as my intro­duc­tion to the music of Vox Pop­uli!. Though this French band is prob­ably known by those who spe­cial­ise in the his­tory of indus­trial in vari­ous European coun­tries, I don’t believe it ever gained a lot of prom­in­ence in the inter­na­tional music world. This is par­tially under­stand­able from the sound as it is show­cased on this album, which devi­ates quite strongly from that of some of the more well-known indus­trial pion­eers from the eighties. Focus­ing less on harsh and mech­an­ical sounds, the music of Vox Pop­uli! has a much stronger influx of middle-eastern folk, coupled with synth works and an atmo­sphere that is often dream­like and upbeat.

The core of the band con­sists of song­writer, vocal­ist and instru­ment­al­ist Axel Kyrou, lead singer and gui­tar­ist Mitra Kyrou-Khalatbari, and Arach Khal­at­bari, who adds per­cus­sion, voice, and vari­ous other instru­ments. In addi­tion, a great deal of guest musi­cians col­lec­ted through­out the years add a low of fla­vour on dif­fer­ent tracks. Lyr­ics altern­ate between French and if the folk song “Chir­ine” is any­thing to go by, Per­sian.

And the tracks are many, aver­aging around three minutes apiece, which keeps the album flow­ing along nicely. It’s sur­pris­ing how well they all mesh together, even though they come from dif­fer­ent peri­ods and are haphaz­ardly, not chro­no­lo­gic­ally, mixed. That doesn’t mean there is no vari­ation or devel­op­ment in the band’s sound. Just a sample: “Crépus­cule Sur Alam­out” has a repet­it­ive gui­tar base with voice, violin, and tabla. “Gizigini” is a very uplift­ing, bass-heavy track with a vari­ety of instru­ments and per­cus­sions, as is the happy “Let­sam La”. On the other hand, there are a few calmer tracks, such as the mel­an­cholic “Be Modar”, and the mys­tical setar-based “Deltan­gui”, where the syn­thetic rhythm flows together per­fectly with the per­cus­sion, acous­tic melody and voice.

Des­pite the dis­par­ate source mater­ial, Mys­tic Enter­tain­ment works very well as a whole, and it’s great to be able to redis­cover the band on CD, as this is the first proper release of their work in twenty years. In short, essen­tial listen­ing for those inter­ested in the vari­ety of sounds that arose in the European under­ground of the early eighties, espe­cially the blend­ing of indus­trial and synth music with folk.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Chaque Jour Est Un Bon Jour (1993) (1:55)
2. Crépus­cule Sur Alam­out (1992, 2009) (5:32)
3. Bed­roud (1984) (2:16)
4. Gizigini (1993) (3:14)
5. Doun­eye Achk (1998, 2009) (3:32)
6. Gol Bekarim (1993) (3:12)
7. Le Son Est Ton Nom (1993) (4:27)
8. Cha­pati Train (1993) (1:53)
9. Indian Bloom (1994) (2:26)
10. Chir­ine (1990) (3:06)
11. Get­ting To Know Sat­urn (1992) (1:55)
12. Let­sam La (1993) (3:39)
13. Be Modar (1985) (3:31)
14. Tu Ren­verses Encore ! (1989) (0:07)
15. Charob (2000, 2009) (2:33)
16. Dou­mai V3 (1998, 2007) (2:10)
17. Get­ting To Know The Moon (1993) (2:56)
18. Icucme (1996) (3:33)
19. Sun­shine Boys And The Time Keeper (1990) (3:08)
20. Man­agana (2001) (2:09)
21. Koro Song (1989, 2001) (3:16)
22. Remem­ber­ing Ancient Fights (1987) (3:01)
23. Deltan­gui (1985) (5:30)
24. Atacumba’s Power Med­it­a­tion (1991) (2:26)
25. An Eth­er­eal Vis­ion (1992) (4:52)
26. Clothes For The Nude Emperor (1986) (1:00)