Originally part of an arts project from 1986, Les contes de l’amère loi is a remastered re-release of one of the odder sections of keyboard-heavy strangepop that you’re likely to hear. Les Poules are a three-piece with largely-electronic instrumentation, and their album seems to mine the “there’s something not quite right here” vein pretty heavily. Shades of music-for-insane-royalty flow through the disc, particularly when it dips into the sort of tonal palette favoured by Drew Neumann’s score for Aeon Flux — a cross between high-tech and high-cheese.
At times sounding like a couple of kids fumbling on an old Casio, Les Poules display a naive approach to music-making that pays off immensely; the simplicity of children’s television soundtracks is invoked, only with a sense of something darker involved. The sense of an unbalanced world is perhaps best described in Chanson du pain, which sounds like it was ripped out of an episode of Inspector Gadget. There’s slightly jaunty, slightly creepy synthwork, and upbeat harmonies… sung about a missing — only to conclude with the thought that it’d be nice if she returned, because the narrator’s getting hungrier and skinnier. It’s like an evil fairy tale, and portrays the best part of the album: the sense of unease that permeates some kinds of happiness, the same sort of thing that makes some people terrified of clowns. Whatever that lurking horror is, it’s here in spades.
In short, you should really check this disc out; it’s got enough weirdness to keep any Bungle-head occupied. Scratchings beyond its dayglo carny sleeve will reveal a delightful darkness.