Album Reviews

Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia – Pain Disappears

(Buzzin' Fly) UK release date: 11 February 2008

Parisian DJ Caroline Laher and collaborator Franck Garcia’s debut album Pain Disappears is Buzzin’ Fly’s first album release. A clue to its sound lies with the label’s owner – Everything But The Girl‘s Ben Watt. A chilled, understated vibe is duly delivered, but one with a lyrical concept that marks this album as one to check out.

Lounging atmospherically about somewhere sparse between Air (10,000Mhz Legend period) and Giorgio Moroder, melancholic minor chords and minimalist beats underlie an instrument palette that occasionally brings in guitars but for the most part is made up of late night electronic sounds. Laher and Garcia’s impassive vocal parts are twinned throughout, creating a single unified voice that speaks, rather than sings, in heavily accented French. Emotions are kept tightly checked, in keeping with the reverb-free claustrophobic production sheen.

From beginning to end, a rather random instrumental midway diversion aside, the record’s lyrics chart the dissolution of a relationship. At the beginning, Always You finds the two voices singing of their love. The strings-laden, piano-led midpoint, Mon Ange, the writing’s on the wall: “I know it’s time to say goodbye.” By the end, the relatively jaunty Reason To Stay has resolved the relationship: “There is no more reason to stay.” It fades out, and the record is over bar a Ewan Pearson remix of Always You, curiously tacked on to the end.

Listening to Pain Disappears, it’s difficult not to want them to get on and resolve their differences. Throughout, there is more repetition than seems necessary, never more so than on Dead Souls. There’s little evolution here, and it outstays its welcome by several minutes. But there are moments of genuinely intimate fare too – the plucked guitar and far-off strings of Hold Me would fit snugly into Nitin Sawhney‘s canon.

Unlike the similarly downtempo Fujiya & Miyagi‘s hook-packed radio-friendly ditties, Pain Disappears is a languid, reflective record, and a bold one at that, that works less as a floor filler and more as background music. Tracks like Always You, Lost, Apologies and especially I Don’t Want sport beats enough to find their way in the world with solid remixes. Just one track, No Name, lasts for less than five minutes. Laher and Garcia are playing to their own beat, in their own time.

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Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia – Pain Disappears