Plastic Art Noise the australian-french connection
"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."
Plastic Art Noise is the beautiful breathy voice & person of French singer RoBERT, herself an enduring name in French electronic, pop & baroque music for well over two decades, myself as Alien Skin 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:)
PLASTIC ART NOISE: George presents 'Like Strangers Do'
If you want to buy the album but wish to hear it first, in full, to ensure you love it as much as I know you will, you may listen to it on my Bandcamp Player (bottom of this page).
Moonlight Rhapsody was the response from Mathieu and lyricist Sylvain Gatelais to my first two song contributions. Written as a duet for female and male voices, RoBERT and I 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 vocoders & my voice with some 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 signature piano arpeggio. Its atmosphere laden verses are counterpoised by a deliberate tip of the hat to the 1960s in the choruses. This is one of my personal favourite songs on the album.
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 by Gregory 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 heck of a coincidence!
Playlist of 3 videos from the album
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 article I know you will be equally happy with the listening experience.
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)
Available as CD format and Download.
1. Buy 'Like Strangers Do' album at iTunes
2. Visit the official 'Plastic Art Noise' website