Minitel Rose | The French Machine

Futur (2009)
By GUSTAVO TURNER  |  June 23, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Not many people remember Bitter Moon, a fantastic, slept-on 1992 movie directed by Roman Polanski. One of the mise-en-scène elements that dates the film to its period is the ubiquitous presence of the Minitel, a proto-Internet the French tried to get going before they were swallowed by the WWW juggernaut.

The Minitel terminal was a sort of chat-room/yellow-pages thing deployed by the phone company in homes around Paris. The (enormous) part of the system devoted to sex was known as Minitel Rose ("Pink Minitel"), a name now repurposed, of course, for yet another '80s-synth revival project coming this way from the Old World. Reclaiming the synthesizer as a Gallic machine (take that, Kraftwerk!) actually makes a lot of sense, given that the French invented the discothèque and have been hitting the party drugs at least since Verlaine was doing poppers with an underage Rimbaud. Like last year's fun Neon Neon conceptual album about John DeLorean, The French Machine mini-LP seizes a few iconic elements, puts them in the blender, and comes up with a knowing brew. Opener "Elevator" is a bit deceptive — the Pet Shop Boys/Heaven 17 mélange is quickly jettisoned in favor of a softer sound that fits well with the American Apparel coke music of tourmate Sebastien Tellier.

Chalk another one up to the Circle of Retro Life — some Euro toddlers of today will probably come up with a band in 2029 called "Craigslist Casual Encounters" that will sound like T-Pain meets Katy Perry in Ed Banger's dungeon. Drugs will be involved.

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