Sexy Sushi: Cyril
Last time we encountered this pair of provocateurs from Nantes they were skewering French first lady Carla Bruni in a song called ‘L’Idole des connes’; this time it’s a French news presenter in ‘Meurs meurs Jean-Pierre Pernault’ (‘Die Die Jean-Pierre Pernault’). Such unabashed attacks on figures of the French media landscape have earned them labels like ‘electro punk’. That certainly gets the spirit right, but the catch-all ‘electro’ (particularly as it’s used in France) doesn’t quite capture what’s happening musically.
It’s tempting to view Sexy Sushi as a release valve for the two musicians involved, but if so it’s one that’s taken on a life of its own – the tour to promote the album includes a serious run of festivals and the reputation of their live show (which has been know to include nudity and a spinning wheel which selects which songs will be played) is growing. Behind the pseudonyms Rebeka Warrior and Mitch Silver are singer Julia Lanoë from folk duo Mansfield TYA
, and David Grellier from the Valérie collective
and College. For Lanoë, Sexy Sushi perhaps allows her to indulge in some foul-mouthed ranting and not be straightjacketed by the largely sombre mood of Mansfield – although the band’s first CD-R release predates Mansfield TYA’s debut by two years, so who’s to say which one is the ‘day job’? – and they both get to indulge an obvious affection for certain forms of dance music; in contrast to Valérie and College’s fetishisation of 80s American FM pop and films, the sound of ‘Cyril’ is almost 100% European. This includes tracks like the cute ‘La fille a la tête de dinde’ (‘the girl with the turkey-head’, a nice French insult) which hark back to the French synth new-wave, but what prevails is Euro rave and a Germanic hard trance/hard dance sound. ‘La morte d’une dame’ and ‘Le gilet rouge’ are pretty straightforward and wordless hard trance workouts, while ‘Marin’ exemplifies the poppier takes on the same idea, with hoover-y synths and melancholy auto-tuned vocals. It’s not necessarily a million miles from Scooter. Feel-good gay anthem of the summer?
So is Sexy Sushi just a ‘joke’ band? Well, hard trance is undoubtedly désuet, and quite far from being the epitome of cool – too funk-less and humourless. It’s this desuetude that Sexy Sushi claim and redeploy to suit their own ends, and there’s humour in that, but I’m not sure it’s purely a sarcastic wheeze. Free parties and raves have always been popular in Brittany, perhaps as they are in keeping with the region’s tradition of ‘Festou Noz’ (night parties), and Astropolis in Brest was the first illegal dance event in the country to go legit. And this ‘techno’ sound, which is at a fair remove from the club sounds of Paris right now, has endured there. This is music for fields, barns and hangars in the countryside (the duo's appearance at this year’s Glastonbury in the Shangri-La area, away from the main stages, made perfect sense.) It’s anti-chic, and underpinned by a genuine disgust with the medio-cultural-political consensus that emanates from Paris.