|THE ISLAND EXPERIMENTAL 4: about MONDESIR|
By Wills Morgan
MONDESIR: Josienne and Ben
In continuing my monthly columns about THE ISLAND EXPERIMENT, I feel that it is my duty to inflict more of my personal style of writing and grammar on you, the unsuspecting readers of a net magazine. You lucky people!
I have had the good fortune to land in Kensal and breathe its air for the best part of a year. I feel like the ugly guy who’s got the girl at the end of the movie. Just like all the all the other locals I use the library computers, buy some bread at L’Angolo’s, cope as best as I can with a phenomenon properly known as ‘baby valley’ and enter the bar of the Island safe in the knowledge that even if I have to creep past a few of our canine friends, I will never ever find my feet in something called ‘dog shit’.
But of course, I get around a bit. I live here: and if I happen to have a job, I work somewhere else. I don’t have to get a life…because I have more than a slice of the said commodity right here where I live.
I digress. If you’ve read my other stuff, then you’ll know all about the things I do with scissors, spoons, dust brushes and the like. If you haven’t read it here is a short summary: I sing, play a little Casio keyboard, and hit and a cheap stool bought from IKEA. Wade (one of the ‘caped crusaders’ responsible for THE ISLAND EXPERIMENT) likes the sound I make on this last invented instrument so much that he often says to me “Wills, I wish you’d sit on that damn stool”. End of summary…quick enough?
All right. Let’s talk about some of the things I do when I’m not playing…and that is…listening to the new artistic types. What I’ll do (I think) is hear some new stuff, decide whether I like it or not, and if I like it…I’ll write about it.
I’m not all that keen on writing about bad stuff or indifferent artists…and you can find professional writers who can make an easy living writing bad things about all sorts of people. My passion is music, and if I get this right my opinions and words should be able to live comfortably alongside the words of my music writing heroes: Miles Davis, Stewart Lee and Charles Shaar Murray.
I begin with the very best sound I have heard in recent days: the acoustic folk duo known as MONDESIR.
Now the naming of bands can be a tricky thing. Having a moniker in a foreign name can stop the critical masses from placing you in a box you don’t deserve. You may not care for critics that much, but they get paid for saying that you and your new album is something called ‘dog shit’. And you might not like being called that in public.
MONDESIR is a name that can be easily translated, so I won’t do that for you. It is a word that is quicker to say than the following half-sentence: Josienne sings, plays and writes… and Ben plays guitars, mandolin and writes with Josienne.
Now…of course if this columnist is going to write about ‘em , they’ve got to be good, haven’t they? Well, it is indeed so. They are good. Gooder than good. Goody indeedy. But not Jade Goody. That was a little while ago…God rest her soul.
MONDESIR was the central feature of an evening of live music held recently at the TROUBADOUR bar, West Brompton. The other acts were ALL THE FIRES, a six-piece outfit from Cornwall fronted by two female singer/players…and yours truly joined HAYLEY TUCKER on a number of songs.
A number of ISLAND EXPERIMENTALS turned up in support, being the enlightened types that they are. Annie S. bought me a drink, and Alistair D. turned up (a nice surprise) looking like his usual self. Best of all…the Wadeski was there.
I’ve said that the task I’ve set myself is to write good stuff about this good twosome. This is not easy. I recommend that after you’ve read this piece you go to MySpace and check out how they sound for yourselves.
And has luck would have it, they have a new release out right about now. I won’t tell you about it because I haven’t heard it. What I will say is…buy it. Buy it yesterday.
Ben and Josienne have chosen to work together and tell the stories that they feel need to be told. They present the songs without any kind of front or artifice. Because of this very thing we as an audience are drawn closer to the music…and we want to know more about them as artists and as people.
After their Troubadour set numbers were exchanged. Within one week they made their debut at the best open mike evening in this city…that my friends is…THE ISLAND EXPERIMENT.
The occasion was memorable for lots of reasons. MONDESIR were featured, but there was already a featured artist…ALISTAIR D. In addition, there was an acoustic set from a modern boogie duo that is part of DISCO CAVIAR. They’re off to the Viper Rooms in California…good luck to ‘em.
A good crowd on the night was guaranteed because SANDY and CALISTA had birthdays. We were ready kinda early, but still started kinda late. We fitted all sorts of things in: PHIL RYAN stepped up and was out of the building in the blink of an eye: CORRINE SCOTLAND returned to the stage and LAURA MATTHEWS did two numbers…or was it three?
MONDESIR’S opportunity came, and they did not disappoint. I dragged KEN GIBSON to the front of the stage and nailed him to a seat where he could hear things from close up.
BEN got his instruments out and tuned them. For me this was just as amazing as the actual set itself. BEN is that rare thing that we call a musician. He is able to tune in to his thing really quickly…much quicker than most any other guitarist I have either heard or seen.
From my viewpoint I was able to see MARK FEATHERS sitting and watching attentively. Now Feathers is pretty nifty with an axe in his hands and has been known to perform regular miracles. I can only guess at what he thought…but I know he thinks like me. And I think that Ben is genius writ simply.
And as for JOSIENNE ...Josienne has an inner and outer beauty which is not to be overlooked. She and Ben sit down and get on with it. After the obligatory plug, they leave to wild cheering.
They hang around: and soak up the atmosphere (as well as the acts that follow in their wake).
Enough already. Seek out the sound of MONDESIR for yourself, dear reader. If you go to my MySpace site you will find music by them, All The Fires and Disco Caviar. It’s on a playlist called MONDESIR…I. RATE. THEM.
Chek their music at:
Wills Morgan is a writer/director, performing artist, practical musicologist and all-round cultural infidel. He publishes his own blog in the following link: www.myspace.com/willwithhans