François Virot is a rare bird, who belongs to that endangered kind of musicians that are so devoted to their art that they never care to spend some time at home. You may not know it yet, but in the last few years, this hyperactive musician originating from the city of Lyon (he also plays the drums with his brother Charles in the ballistic noise pop trio Clara Clara) spent more time on the road than your three favorite bands put together… And together with the zillions of Clara Clara records, our boy found the time to fiddle, record and wrap up no less than 17839 demo cds to sell at the back of the basements and spacey flats he played in. This first album of his is thus less an introductory attempt than a solid gold sum, that of years, weeks, months, years of adorable activism. Actually, François began to play the guitar when he was seven, in 1991, because he wanted to impersonate Kurt Cobain, Prong and, well, Brian Adams, and is somewhat akin to those miracle kids of that internet generation who have heard it and tried it all and already look like sages at the age of 20. Try him: he was into Jesus Lizard, The Melvins, Sonic Youth at the age of 9 – “but I didn’t like Sonic Youth that much”, he says; first punk crust band, les Casseroles Brûlées (that translates as “the Burnt Saucepans”, no kidding), The Ex “who have changed my life”, at 12; then, a few years later, “ a little bit of everything, like everyone”. So you can tell, Yes Or No may be his first official album allright, that kid is no newcomer. In a nutshell, then: it’s the record of a sage, recorded by a kid. Achieved with no superfluous addition of anything: one guitar, sometimes two, one voice, sometimes two, or three, plus an acoustic rain of hands on wood, bits and pieces of percussions. Or else, a beautiful suppressed anger against whatever, overflowing with generosity, acoustic guitar strings assaulted with no second thought whatsoever, escalating songs, funk to the core, rageously melodic, that never fears total exposure, be in it full sun or a car’s headlights in your eyes, yet without ever overplaying the feelings. What does François Virot’s pulsing heart may look like, you’re wondering? Depending on the moments, what you will hear in this programmatic Yes Or No is: an either melancholic / or joyous folksy rout, a fake grand reunion recorded onto tape in total solitude, moments of mingled pavement-esque and beatlesy descent, and that same brio that you like to hear in Animal Collective (we’ll be frank with you: you will think of Animal Collective from time to time, François does like to strum his guitar like it was a percussion, and play in dark, savage forests). Eventually, you will hear a voice, that is both singular and precious. People who were lucky enough to see and hear François consume himself on stage, at the back of a basement or a spacey flat, know it too too well : François needs to wince in order to hoot; yet his chanting never sound like groans; from deep down in his throat, his voice, that is gently saturated with matter, likes nothing more than to settle in your ear and levitate, harangue it without assaulting it. You either love it or conjecture about the fact that you may hate it, then you end up loving it anyway. So, oui ou non, Yes Or No could very well become your favorite record this year. We’ll let you check the right check box, right?
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