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Coeur Machant

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Coeur Machant is an experimental act from Portland, OR. Founded by Jess Gulbranson (formerly of Joys Of Oil, Numinous Knot, and others) and folkstress Shreya Bollock, the two eschewed conventional ‘band’ paradigms such as rehearsals, frequent touring, and socializing that are part of the normal experience for band members in the same state. This is just part of the overall mystery that makes up Coeur Machant’s strange and difficult aesthetic.

The name of the band is perhaps the most persistent puzzle for many. It is taken from an Art Nouveau poster series that Gulbranson started in 2007, the phrases being taken from a book on lexicology, and actually misspelled. As found in the book, the French means “biting heart.” The original phrase coeur mechant has a curious history, according to the Maven’s WOTD on the Random House web site:

“If you look up curmudgeon in Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, you will find the following in parentheses before the definition: “It is a vitious manner of pronouncing coeur mechant, Fr. an unknown correspondent.” Coeur means ‘heart’, and mechant means ‘bad’. Dr. Johnson had apparently lost track of who had given him this etymology, and the “Fr.” stands for ‘from’. However, a man named John Ash published a New and Complete Dictionary of the English Language in 1775 in which he took Dr. Johnson’s “Fr.” to mean ‘French’ and, knowing no French, provided the etymology “from Fr. coeur ‘unknown’, mechant ‘correspondent’.” An embarrassing lexicographical moment.”

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