WENDING my way through a particular tributary of my record collection the other day, I came across a lovely, lofi 7″, characterised by the mint and cream swirl artwork of Alan McGee’s post-Creation imprint, Poptones; it was Le Volume Courbe’s quirky folk tune, “Papillon De Nuit”, an idiosyncratic and alluring essay in pigeon coos, downhome acoustic guitars, Gallic vocal free-association. Beautiful. Where is she now? I wondered, Le Volume Courbe being the musical alias of Charlotte Marionneau.
The gods must’ve been listening to me; because she’s back after five years away, with a new EP entitled Fourteen Years, due out on Honest Jons on November 13th.
It’s to be the first of three EPs that will combine to make up only her third album since her debut, I Killed My Best Friend, back in 2006.
It’s been a period of highs and lows, the past few years, in Charlotte’s world; she joined Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds three years ago, contributing vocals to “It’s A Beautiful World” and heading out tour with them – she played the scissors, live.
But last year she was diagnosed with cancer, and felt the urge to produce and release her own music: she says “it became like a vital thing”.
It was while she was receiving chemotherapy that she recorded two of the tracks featured on her new EP: the tronica-meets-lamenting violin, medical impressionism of “MRI Song”; and the beautiful, wayward, piano and penny whistle study of “Planet Ping Pong”.
Alongside which, of course, you get the leftfield quirkjazz of the title track, “Fourteen Years”: music for a Parisian indie pavement cafe, seeming to draw on the wonky textures of “The Lovecats” and The Monochrome Set and refracting them back at us in sophisticated loveliness. Watch the video, below.
“Fourteen Years” is the oldest track on the EP; it was originally pencilled in for her last album, I Wish Dee Dee Ramone Was Here With Me, but was instead set aside as a seedling for a next step musically.
The EP is completed by a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Mind Contorted”: a duet with none other than Terry Hall, and also features his son, Theodore; and none other than Noel Gallagher on guitar.
Noel says of Charlotte, memorably: “When I first met her she was wearing a cape … she looked like a little piece of Lego.
“She told me she liked some of my songs but not all of them. I hadn’t even asked her opinion!”
“She’s beautiful, fearless and one hell of a tambourine player.”