Frank Ene on Bambou – Made In China


On his own undersung gem of an album, Frank Ene put together a collection of songs that are deeply scarred, yet radiant. It’s a sound, that like his bandmate and producing partner Wymond Miles, references ‘80s aesthetics without becoming beholden to or bogged down in them. The goth slash across the album lets off a burn like dry ice — intense and cold, leaving a lasting mark on the listener. I asked Frank to pick out a gem of his own and he’s let us in on an ‘80s pop LP that likely slipped by us all. Check out below for Frank’s take on the sole ’89 LP from Bambou.

“I was mindlessly doing grunt work in a warehouse in Richmond,” recalls Ene, “when reality and existential dread finally started to get the best of me. I was starting to crack up in a major way and thoughts about bailing on the temp gig permeated my mind. Luckily, I thought better of it. With that said, I was still in need of suspension of disbelief. I was in need of reprieve and, most importantly, I was in need of the $100-day wage.  So, I sucked it the fuck up and sought out to distract myself from it all. I set my radio provider to shuffle and was soon introduced to a song that featured a voice both mellifluous and meek. That song was “Lulu”. A song sung by a sultry chanteuse dubbed Bambou.” 

“Naturally,” he confides, “I was forever hooked and immediately hunted for whatever I could find that featured this woman’s salacious voice. I found it! Her only long-playing release! Made In China. It’s uncompromising. The record showcases an expert use of Franglais and chord-play that perks up my ears. The music resides in both Queens and Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Songs like “Entre l’âme et l’amour”, “J’ai pleuré le Yang Tsé”, “Hey Mister Zippo”, and “Aberdeen et Kowloon” absolutely helped in changing the way I view and approach songwriting and arrangements. For me, Made In China is a powerhouse.”

Seems that the album is woefully out of print and not available on many digital outlets, adding to the quality dig up on this. Seems odd, as when looking further into this, Babmbou, also known as Caroline Von Paulus, was among her many claims to fame (actress, singer, model) the last partner of Serge Gainsbourg. The singer had a son with him in 1986 and stayed with him until his death in 1991. In fact, Gainsbourg actually wrote about half of the album and is credited for the whole first side and one on the flip. As such there exist copies of the album cobbled together in 2014 that pair her album with a couple of Gainsbourg songs tacked on at the end. Seems like a cheap shot, but I guess the Gainsbourg name’s a grabber. Even these are a bit scarce, however, cassettes of the original seem easier to come by and there are used copies in CD/LP formats floating around for the intrepid. Check out Frank’s album on Empty Cellar (out now) and nab a Bambou where you see ‘em.

Score Bambou HERE.

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