French singer Brigitte Fontaine made a series of increasingly strange and eclectic art-pop in the 1970s that gathered a lot of acclaim in France, although she remains obscure to an international audience. Initially she was an eccentric but accessible pop singer, presenting melodic and orchestrated material a la a more daring version of late-'60s/early-'70s Francoise Hardy. On her first album, she worked with arranger Jean Claude Vannier, who had also done arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg. On subsequent records she got jazzier, and then into more difficult directions of avant-gardism and art song. Her albums were commendably wide-ranging, and undeniably erratic. She could employ African tribal rhythms, discordant progressive jazz, pretty folky melodies, throat-stretching a cappella vocals, spoken poetry, and pious classical arrangements, sometimes with a stoned recklessness. On some albums she collaborated with the less impressive male writer and singer Areski, whose rough vocals contrasted incongruously with Fontaine's sweet and mature tone. Fontaine returned to recording in the 1990s, around the time her vintage work slowly began to accumulate a cult following among English-speaking listeners. ~ Richie Unterberger
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