Featuring Areski Belkacem and The Art Ensemble of Chicago, “Comme À La Radio” is the sophomore album in Brigitte Fontaine‘s prolific career. While her debut, “Brigitte Fontaine Est… Folle”, is a unique take on French chanson, here The Art Ensemble provides the perfect setting for Brigitte Fontaine‘s exploration of free-verse poetry. Often arrhythmic and spoken, her vocals command the same spontaneity and grace that her collaborators applied to their instruments.
The album’s eight-minute title track sets the tone: a sparse bass line keeps time as Fontaine dances around stabs of flute and trumpet. On “Tanka II,” named for a form of concise Japanese poetry, Areski (who provides percussion throughout) plays hand-drums atop flurries of bass as Fontaine coos and whispers pensively, gradually uttering controversial phrases. “L’Été L’Été” centers around a repeated motif with individual lines of high-pitched melody on a bed of muted horns. Each track is its own world, with Fontaine‘s incredible range, both in style and substance, acting as the glue between the immense talent involved. The overall effect is chilling, and it is no surprise that “Comme À La Radio” is often cited as Fontaine‘s best known work.