MULE JENNY is the new project of Étienne Gaillochet (also of the bands We Insist !, Zarboth). “All These Songs Of Love And Death” is his debut album which will be released in LP (with CD included), and all digital platforms worldwide on December 10, 2021 via french labels Grabuge Records, Araki and Figures Libres. Each song of the album has the capability to surprise through complex rhythms, unusual harmonies, while retaining a traditional song structure, without losing the common thread of strong vocals and melodies. There was one single constraint throughout the making and recording of this album: Étienne did not use MIDI and performed all instruments by himself.
“In a setting of complete freedom and solitude, work began on these tracks at the end of We Insist!’s last tour in 2018 by means of experimentation in the studio.” – comments Étienne.
“Songs that were always in progress, never finalised, with no stict composition method used. Moving away from the references and guidelines of We Insist! and Zarboth, each song has the capability to surprise through complex rhythms, unusual harmonies, while retaining a traditional song structure, without losing the common thread of strong vocals and melodies. There was one single constraint throughout the recording of this album: not to use MIDI and to perform everything.”
Etienne set to work learning new instruments that he had always been eager to play, first and foremost the guitar on which the starting point of each song on the record was found. For arrangement purposes, a vibraphone was added to the structure, and finally the indispensable bass guitar, resulting in a record full of intricate vocals and a smoother, opulent sound overall than previous compositions. These new musical experiences and discoveries have allowed Etienne a new outlook and freshness with his life-long relationship to music.
𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑦𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑠 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑦 𝑑𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑒 𝑠𝑢𝑏𝑗𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝑎𝑛 𝑜𝑓𝑡𝑒𝑛 𝑜𝑓𝑓𝑏𝑒𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑛-𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑎𝑙 𝑤𝑎𝑦: 𝑎𝑔𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑂𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑡, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑒𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑊𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑛 𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑐𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑦, 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑜𝑟 𝐽𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑝ℎ 𝑆𝑡𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑛, 𝑚𝑎𝑑𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠, 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑡ℎ, 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠…
The solo pre-mixes were then passed on to an old and trusted friend Fred Martin-Bouyer (We Insist!, Zarboth, Blair) who mixed and mastered all the tracks. Immediately, Grabuge Records decided to participate in the release of this album, promptly joined by Araki Records and Figures Libres Records. A group was quickly formed with Max Roy and Théo Guéneau of Lysistrata to adapt these compositions and play them live as a trio. The record is released on high quality 180g vinyl with a protective laminated sleeve and a 2 page colour insert created by Matt Irwin (A Whisper In the Noise, WIVE). A wallet sleeve CD is inserted in each vinyl.
Asked about his in-depth track by track commentary for each song from the album Étienne says that he won’t expand or explain the texts of the songs from the album. “Either they say things too intimate to be explained or they are made to remain cryptic, I do not like writing first degree songs, or exceptionally.” – he admits.
“For those who want to look into it, they will have access to the lyrics in the insert inside the vinyl. They will find several levels of reading there and will perhaps understand something other than what I wanted to say. It’s done on purpose, I prefer them that way.”
“I won’t explain the harmonic aspect of my music because it is totaly self-tought without any knowledge on the guitar, that’s also how I like it.” – he concludes.
Words by Étienne Gaillochet:
In The Classroom
That was during a day when things came out easily, once out of fifty, without warning, music flew out, during the other 49 sessions I stumble and stomp my ideas without moving forward. It has an odd rhythmic and melodic pattern on the guitar completed with a drum line that I also hear as a melodic counterpoint. I never count the time signatures of my songs they just sound nice in my ears, but for the purposes of this article I counted this particular rhythm it is an 8 beats measure plus a half beat, which adds up to 17/8.
Cross The Line
This track has for me an irresistible ternary groove which sounds a bit dated, it evokes the life of a boy who lost his notions of limits, an old memory of humiliation during his childhood comes back to the surface. I hear also in it the resurgence of my youthful passion for Primus, this is a simple and straightforward song as I rarely write them. It is not very representative of the rest of the album, I think, but I can’t take any step aside from it, you will know better than I do.
Sign Your Name On The Dotted Line
A few years ago I got the starting point for this tune in the great Canadian cold, winter in Newfoundland, it took me years to finish it, I have turned it upside down many times. I ended up making a song that tells a simple and terrible story with a fishtail ending. It has had several endings, depending on whether it is played on the record, with a band or solo.
Every Other Rendition
This song evokes the boredom that seizes you in front of a person who talks to you and doesn’t need any feedback, you feel like a bucket. It also says that words are harmless and they sometimes need to be expelled, without any filter. This particular rhythm is a nightmare, not only because it has 11 beats per bar, but because when we started rehearsing it with the band, it was very difficult for us to determine the first beat of the loop as well as the rhythm of the vocals. The melody and harmony are very tense or even indefinite, which made Théo Guéneau say this wonderful word “this might be some kind of jazz … but tougher”. I hope that whom does not pay attention will hear a simple and fluid song.
We Won’t Make A Sound
I had sometimes the feeling that I recorded there too much of a progressive rock song, but that’s the way it is, I liked it enough to leave it on the record. Don’t blame me for the slapping bass line, I just found it fun to do. There are several parts in this tune, at least 4, that lead to a big catchy ad lib-shaped ending. Max Roy played the bass on the coda of the song, this the only exception on the record, where I restrained myself to play all instruments. I invited friends to try out brass instruments, but it was too much, a cheap keyboard did the job for less effort.
The Petrels Are Gone
This tune explores the 9/8 ternary beat. This is the only piece where I used another drumset than usual (my little Ludwig drum from the 60’s), above all I was looking for a groove. A dissonant pattern on the guitar was the starting point, after that everything went very quickly. I thought of Captain Beefheart at David Bowie for the somewhat surreal text collage.
Live it’s the track that allows us to really improvise, a noise and afrobeat-like groove at the same time that reminded us of the great band The Ex.
Joy And Deception
This is an old song that I remember finishing in a train between Paris and Lille. There are remembrances of Radiohead there. I love their music without having ever really explored it thouroughly. This amazing band is a Pandora’s box that I open every now and then, bit by bit, on different occasions. I always close it very quickly so as not to wear it out.
Give Chance A Chance
One of the first songs I wrote on my own. I redid it several times. I finally recorded a finished form for the Kind Of Belou festival during which we performed it with an enlarged ensemble (thanks to Jean Rochard from the label nato) : Tony Hymas keyboards, Catherine Delaunay clarinet, François Corneloup baritone saxophone, Didier Petit cello, Morgane Carnet tenor saxophone . I will not deny this funky groove aspect of it, it has had a very big influence on me during my young years (Prince, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Guitar Watson, Parliament and many others).
All These Songs Of Love And Death
This ending eponymous song is supposed to take the opposite view from the first degree meaning of the title. I do not want to say more about the lyrics. I did not want to play the drums on this song, but only use this wobbly guitar part and a lot of vocals. In the end, I couldn’t resist playing the drum part that you’ll hear at the end of the song, it was indeed long ago its starting point : a long cycle of 16 beat full of accidents, rebounds a accents. I have mention the great John Hollenbeck (drummer and composer of Claudia Quintet) whom I listened to a lot. I owe him the inspiration of this drum gimmick.