Benjamin Schoos China man vs Chinagirl Compact Disc
When not running the brilliant Freaksville label, Benjamin Schoos is concentrating his efforts into producing lush, string-laden, melancholic and very French pop.
Here, on his debut British album, he's working with guest vocalists inludingLaetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Mark Gardener (Ride), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) and Parisian icon Marie France. “You know, Brussels is in the centre of Europe,” says Schoos. Somewhere between his studio (aka the Freaksville laboratory) and Paris, multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Schoos has produced,composed and arranged a whole host of songs for a variety of cult figures on the French pop scene, including '80s synthpop star Lio, Parisian icon marie France, debonair dandy Alain Chamfort, Michel Moers and Marc Moulin from electronic group Telex.
Inspired by the technical genius of orchestrator Jean-Claude Vannier (Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson), who he met in 2006, and the creativity of New-York noise producer Kramer (Shimmy Disc, Galaxie 500, Low, Bongwater), with whom he has worked on three albums, Benjamin has nowdecided to explore his inner soundscapes on China Man Versus China Girl.
Composed and recorded in nights at the Freaksville Lab, Benjamin has created a rich, rhythmic FM pop sound drawing on the glossy melody and soaring synthesizers of '70s soft rock with orchestral flourishes taken from the best of French cinema soundtracks.
Touched by the charm of Benjamin's songwriting, Chinaman Versus China Girl has attracted some highly prolific guest appearances: a duet with Laetitia Sadier(Stereolab) on the wonderfully catchy pop song Je Ne Vois Que Vous, lead vocals by Mark Gardener (Ride) on the romantic, Barryesque Worlds Away and chrissie hynde duetting with Parisian chanteuse Marie France on caustic ballad Un Garçon Qui Pleure, in which they play the role of femmes fatales digging their claws into the male population.
With the occasional nod towards surrealist poet Arthur Craven and great american boxer Jack Johnson (to whom Mile Davis dedicated an album), China Man Versus China Girl is a collection of melancholy, cinematic songs analysing the pugilistic dimension of life, art and love under the unlikely metaphor of wrestling. “It's the perfect soundtrack of a drama movie about wrestling,” says Schoos. “Wrestling is a great sport and a metaphor of love - or pretending to be in love.”
" A dazzling debut. You will find a long-player that takes the chanson to new and interesting places while tipping its chapeau to the gallic great. 8/10" NME
'La Chinoise' underlines Schoos as a genetically engineered musical magpie, as he borrows the brilliant chord progression and melodic thrust of Tortoise's 'Blackjack' Drownedinsound.com
"High-Flying Melancholia, it sets the tone for the rest of the album perfectly. Swooping background synths overlaid with a drawling saxophone almost drown out the unmistakable thump of a heartbeat and it feels a bit like a loss when it's over. The sound is one you could listen to indefinitely on a loop; a little bit droning and hypnotic, but with a tinge of excitement" MusicOmh.com
"a record with sumptuous strings that has something of the old chanson de variété' ... a mort l'amour one of the highlights on a fine album." the stoolpigeon uk
"It's Sadier that lends her gorgeous vocals to the galloping, heart-burstingly lovely Je Ne Vois Que Vous. Inspired by orchestrator and Serge Gainsbourg collaborator Jean Claude Vannier, whom he met in 2006, it's a song that makes you want to run around the streets of Paris with a Super 8 camera and a coy but knowing smile on your face." www.guardian.co.uk/music
" A multi-faceted record which slips between soaring, 70's inspired pop tracks and deep, ponderous song with an almost disturbing ease." Narco