Claude Vannier
L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches | 2015 Reissue

Finders Keepers

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A TAV Curator's Pick

“This French composer and producer-- best known for his lavish arrangements on Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire de Melody Nelson-- finally has his bizarre and astonishing 1972 solo debut issued on CD in the U.S.

Composer and producer Jean-Claude Vannier has spent much of the past few decades writing scores for French television and cinema, most of which have gone largely unheard outside Europe. Along the way he has also worked with pop artists such as Brigitte Fontaine and Françoise Hardy, but he remains most widely celebrated for his lavish arrangements on Serge Gainsbourg's classic jailbait concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson. Throughout his work, Vannier has displayed a fearless ambition to communicate a coherent narrative, primarily-- or even exclusively-- through his carefully programmed music. And never were Vannier's grandiose ambitions given freer reign than on his jawdropping 1972 solo debut L'Enfant Assasin des Mouches (The Child Assassin of the Flies). On this bizarre and astonishing album, which B-Music has now given its first official domestic release, Vannier uses every weapon in his considerable arsenal to craft a turbulent soundscape that deftly mirrors the endless commotion and confusion so peculiar to childhood. 

Originally made available in only 100 promo copies, L'Enfant Assasin des Mouches has long been the stuff of legend amongst serious vinyl collectors, and it isn't difficult to hear why. In conducting the album's unruly pastiche, Vannier seems equal parts Van Dyke Parks and Carl Stalling, drawing impulsively upon multiple classical and soundtrack traditions, sleazy Euro-funk, Middle Eastern modalities, proggy hard rock, and what sounds like the full sound effects library of a large radio theater troupe. The piece's loose narrative structure is provided in the liner notes, written after the fact by Gainsbourg. This macabre little libretto-- which involves a young, fly-torturing child who receives his just desserts when lured down into the underground fly kingdom-- might be screwy enough to make Tommyread like Ibsen, but it does provide a suitably dramatic context for Vannier's violent, often jarring musical juxtapositions.” – Pitchfork

Jean-Claude Vannier is best known in Europe (and all but unknown in the United States) as a celebrated composer of film scores, and as an arranger and producer of French pop music, he has worked with everyone from Brigitte Fontaine to Françoise Hardy to Johnny Hallyday. He is also known among music aficionados as the genius-arranger behind Serge Gainsbourg's classic concept LP Histoire de Melody Nelson. That recording, with its bizarre and otherworldly blend of musical and non-musical sources, which effortlessly wound rock, jazz, pop, found-object music, avant-garde, and even funk into a seamlessly, utterly disconcerting whole, has been sampled worldwide by hip-hop artists and DJs. L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches ("The Child Killer of the Flies") is Vannier's first solo recording, and an underground Francophone (and now worldwide) classic. Inspired by the work he did with Gainsbourg on Melody Nelson in 1972, he and his ensembles Insolitudes, set out to create his own concept work, blending everything he'd been working on and extending his range with total studio and aesthetic freedom.

This suite, comprised of 11 parts (with truly weird and creepy track introductions by Gainsbourg), is a wonder, a truly strange bit of '70s musicalia. This set is the terrain where soundtrack music, classical music, gauche pop, hard rock, French café music, Middle Eastern modal music, vanguard musical iconoclasty, and sound effects collide, stroke, and ultimately come into union with one another -- often in a single cut. This music is alternately violent, garish, tender, elegant, silly, and gritty. Vannier plays piano, clavinette, and flutes, and directed the orchestra. The strings here are the result of a multi-tracked string quartet sounding like a 10,001-string orchestra. He used three guitarists, electric bass, a single drummer and two percussionists, a reed and brass section, an accordionist, and a choir to achieve this. 

Its seamlessly beautiful yet hideous juxtapositions should never have worked, but they become the face of something so far beyond their individual parts that the end result is singular in both conception and execution. L'Enfant Assassin des Mouches is to music what surrealism was to literature: a bold new step that has been unmatched in vision and unequaled in performance since it was recorded.” – AllMusic



Item description:


Jean-Claude Vannier


L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches


Finders Keepers Records


Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Repress, Gatefold



Release Date:

This reissue: Nov 2015 | Original - 1972


Electronic, Rock, Non-Music, Folk, World, & Country


Musique Concrète, Pop Rock, Prog Rock, Avantgarde, Psychedelic Rock, Ethereal, Special Effects, Experimental

Catalog No: