Plastic Art Noise : the full story!
Plastic Art Noise an inter-continental union
"Plastic Art Noise is the moniker of two individually stylized music artists, RoBERT & Alien Skin (George Pappas), worlds and languages apart, whose respect and admiration for each other's work summoned them together. With the addition of music maestro Mathieu Saladin, their collaboration has spawned the delicious new album, Like Strangers Do."
If I were to write a press release for our new collaborative project, Plastic Art Noise, that's how I would begin.
Plastic Art Noise is the beautiful breathy voice & person of French singer and songwriter, RoBERT, herself an enduring name in French electronic, pop & baroque music for well over two decades, myself and Mathieu Saladin, her music and life partner. This unique union of seemingly disparate personalities began in 2012 when through the recommendation of a mutual friend, RoBERT contacted me with the suggestion of a collaboration. I had already explored her work and was smitten with her music and seductive, angelic voice. My immediate answer was, Yes! I had little idea though that it would culminate in a full album release nearly two years later.
RoBERT and Mathieu live and record in France, myself in Australia but the constraints of distance are no longer barriers to people working together thanks to recording technology and the internet. After a garrulous Skype video chat, she in the middle of her morning, myself in the evening, we laid out the plans of our future project. On her suggestion I agreed to the idea of releasing a full album of vocal duets. She also put forward the suggestion of naming the project, Plastic Art Noise.
As an initial stepping stone, immediately after our first contact and preceding the above Skype meeting, I provided her with the recording of a song I had already penned entitled Kiss Me. I removed my voice from the chorus and asked her to record hers instead. She forwarded her recorded vocals & spoken parts (as audio files) and when mixed with the remaining song the result was beautifully impressive to my ears. It added such seductive warmth to the purposely mechanical track, I fell in love with what I was hearing!
'Kiss Me' had been written before I met her, so as a follow up exercise & prior to the discussion of doing an album, I sat down and composed a song especially with her in mind, Language of Love. I must admit I was very inspired by RoBERT and realised the extraordinary significance she was to bring to this collaboration, so much so that the song was written, produced and ready to email to her within one brief evening session. The sensuous delivery of her vocal I think is a spine tingling experience. I later added my voice beneath hers in the chorus. 'Language of Love' is a title I remember with a wink, being the name of a once controversial 1969 X-rated Swedish sex education film. I and a couple of young friends, back in the early 1970s, snuck into the cinema to watch it:)
Moonlight Rhapsody was the response from Mathieu and lyricist Sylvain Gatelais. Written as a duet for female and male voices we alternated parts establishing the pattern for much of the remainder of our work together. Mathieu composed the wonderfully evocative arrangement beneath the voices.
Bonfire of the Mad Lovers is a co-write by RoBERT and myself being loosely based on a piece of music I had provided. Upon receiving a vocal recording and a guide chord structure, I produced the final arrangement replete with loving vocoders & my voice with additional production by Mathieu. The song was the first consciously produced for the, as yet, unnamed album and the track we all most collaborated on.
Lady of the Lake, a title inspired by the 1852 John Everett Millais painting 'Orphelia', came together pretty quickly once I wrote the piano arpeggio. To me, its atmosphere laden verses are counterposed by a deliberate tip of the hat to the 1960s in the choruses. Of the songs I wrote for the album this is certainly a personal favourite.
Summer Wine, the Lee Hazlewood song, was suggested by RoBERT. It's always been a favourite tune of mine since the 1960s so I was only too happy to be given the opportunity to sing the male part. Mathieu & Sylvain Gatelais arranged and recorded the music bed.
The title track, Like Strangers Do, was composed on the back of finishing 'Summer Wine'. The line in the later, "strawberries, cherries and an angel's kiss in spring" was all that was necessary to get my mind thinking fruit & incorporating similar in my lyric. After writing the song on guitar I recreated it electronically with a distinctive 60s sounding, mystery TV series type, synth motif. I love the way RoBERT sings her parts, especially the haunting title.
In My Album is the gathering of childhood memories & perceived ideas of reality while flicking through old photo albums and thinking of distant, long lost friends. I composed the song immediately after finishing 'Like Strangers Do' presenting both tracks to RoBERT simultaneously and therefore in my mind I consider the two related.
In 2011, in collaboration with American musician, Phil Kearney, I co-wrote the song With Your Sad Eyes and released it as an Alien Skin single. I've always been proud of the track and was delighted when RoBERT asked that we rerecord it for the album. Her performance of the lead vocal is one of such tenderness, it's exquisitely beautiful. It is also the first official 'Plastic Art Noise' video commissioned, produced Grégory Pierre and now on YouTube.
We Are Gone was produced by Mathieu as a remix of 'With Your Sad Eyes' (not on CD, only download, iTunes etc).
The final song recorded for the album was Baby Jane, co-written by Benjamin Husson (lyric) & Mr Saladin (music) who also produced the track. RoBERT and I trade vocals and what can I say, it was yet another delightful melody to sing. Coincidentally, I had just watched the 1962 Bette Davis film, Whatever Happen to Baby Jane, the inspiration behind the lyric, only the day before I was presented the song. One hell of a coincidence!
01 Like Strangers Do (g pappas)
02 With Your Sad Eyes (g pappas/p kearney)
03 Bonfire of the Mad Lovers (RoBERT/ g pappas)
04 Baby Jane (benjamin husson/m saladin)
05 Lady of the Lake (g pappas)
06 Moonlight Rhapsody (sylvain gatelais/m saladin)
07 In My Album (g pappas)
08 Language of Love (g pappas)
09 Kiss Me (g pappas)
10 Summer Wine (l hazlewood)
11 We Are Gone (g pappas/p kearney) remix m saladin (digital download only, iTunes etc)
Arising from nothing, and strangers no more, I believe Like Strangers Do has achieved everything, if not more, I had wished of it. A collection of cherished songs I am very proud of and beautiful vocal performances, of which RoBERT is a bright shining star for me. I've had a wonderful experience working with both of my antipodean friends in creating this album. Do yourself a favour and have a good listen to it. If you've managed to read this far into the blog I know you will be equally happy with the listening experience.
Available online as a download from March 24 and on CD March 31.
Visit the official 'Plastic Art Noise' website
With Your Sad Eyes (official video release)