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Ne Pour Un Petit Pain

Dat Politics brilliantly contravene the European Union directive which states that all music produced in France since 1995 has to be either A: irresistibly camp filtered disco, or B: sound like the classical-synth soundtrack to an epic early 80s...
December 1, 2001, 12:00am

Dat Politics brilliantly contravene the European Union directive which states that all music produced in France since 1995 has to be either A: irresistibly camp filtered disco, or B: sound like the classical-synth soundtrack to an epic early 80s Italian cartoon series about mediaeval intergalactic pirates.

They’re a three-guy, one-girl quartet from Lille, a dull, historic city in northern France, and they make the most astonishing and original digital pop music using nothing but beat-up old PC laptops and their sweet French imagination.

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I first saw Dat Politics when they performed live at a Fat Cat Records Christmas party last year in a café in fashionable east London. It was a revelation. For what seemed like several very long hours we’d been forced to listen to — and watch — grown men wearing anoraks and glasses methodically procure from their expensive PowerBooks a noise that sounded not unlike the scrambled hum of a broken refrigerator (even weirder, people actually applauded these drones). Then, finally, Dat Politics came on, plugged in, and totally rocked the place with their cute hypermelodic computer rave. Given the furrow-browed circumstances, it was equivalent to witnessing Andy Warhol screenprint his Marilyns all over the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

A month or so ago, their new, third album, Sous Hit, arrived in the post. Wow. Its first nine tracks are two-second high-pitched digitised screams, the rest a byte-sized tunemix blizzard, as though the band have been feeding their hard-drives a party cocktail of poppers, Ecstasy and vodka-Red Bulls, Abba and AFX. Intrigued and enchanted, I buy a Eurostar ticket to Lille to interview them and am kindly met across the Channel by two of the group, Claude Pailliot and Vincent Thierion, in their blue people-carrier, the Datmobile. In Vincent’s apartment, in which they record and run their website (ski-pp.com) and label (Skipp), the other Dat Politicians, Gaeten Collet and Emeric Aelters, have prepared a feast.

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So we drink Belgian white beer and Italian red wine and warming cognac and they tell of how they moved to Lille from Ardenne in the east to study, have released three experimental electro-acoustic albums as Tone Rec, but that Dat Politics is “not so serious, more in touch with our personalities in life and every day.”

Though they’re very much part of that whole international avant-noise click-glitch scene, friends with Kid 606 and the Mille Plateaux and Mego labels, Dat Politics’ music is non-improvised, accessible and immediate. Like many French musicians, they live as government-funded artists and are permitted a basic annual salary provided they play a minimum of 43 shows per year. They are polite, self-sufficient revolutionaries who proudly endorse the benefits of lo-tech home-production.

“It’s more like Do It Yourself, there are a lot of connections with the punk attitude,” says Gaeten, stroking one of Vincent’s black cats. “We don’t have, as you can see, a lot of equipment. We make what we want to do with small things and it’s OK I think. It depends what you want to do and for us this is perfect, this cheap equipment.”

We drink some more. I’m pretty pissed. Vincent, who seems to have drunk as much as anyone, drives me back to the station; the French tend to openly flirt with drunk-driving regulations, far more so than the British. I fall asleep on the train. It’s always such a disappointment to arrive back in London.

PIERS MARTIN

Sous Hit

is out now on Digital Narcis