Sébastien Tellier - Confection (4 stars)

Sébastien Tellier - Confection

Predominantly instrumental suite is a panoramic pick-and-mix tribute to classic soundtracks

Hirsute synth pop seducer Sébastien Tellier is a playful man of parts. In 2008, he represented his native France in the Eurovision Song Contest, singing bubblegum pop in a bubble car. Last year, he manifested as a New Agey self-help guru on his album My God Is Blue. But he is also no stranger to soundtracks – Sofia Coppola has used his songs in a couple of her films and he scored the 2004 French comedy Narco.

He exercises those cinematic tendencies on this latest album, Confection, a predominantly instrumental suite which pays homage to the classic soundtracks of Ennio Morricone and John Barry in its subtly shifting moods, melodies and arrangements.

This panoramic pick-and-mix begins perversely but dramatically with ‘Adieu’. An operatic soprano soars over a backdrop of glacial analogue synthesisers, the steady, inexorable drumming of Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen and ever-ready strings, lovingly arranged by Emmanuel d’Orlando. The melody is later reprised on twinkling harpsichord and undulating piano as ‘Adieu Mes Amours’ and ‘Adieu Comme un Jeu’ respectively.

Tellier weaves other recurring leitmotifs through the album. ‘Coco’, a romantic theme etched on Spanish guitar, and dusted with sighing strings and shuffling drums, is rearranged for piano and woodwind as ‘Coco et le Labyrinthe’ to mischievous, then mournful effect, while spaghetti western-style theme ‘Curiosa’ is played on sonorous piano and then again using pizzicato strings and solo violin.

The cheesily synthetic Walter/Wendy Carlos-inspired ‘Waltz’ stands alone, as does ‘Hypnose’, a gossamer web of feather-light piano, trembling strings and some ominous synth chords, providing the album’s sole intimation of menace.

Otherwise, all is bliss. Tellier makes his one soft, reedy vocal turn count on current single ‘L’Amour Naissant’, sculpting a dreamy love theme out of gentle house piano, swooning strings and Allen’s light, jazzy touch. Although it may smack of pastiche, Confection is cumulatively more than just a tasty bucket of popcorn.

Sébastien Tellier - L'amour naissant (Official Video)

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