Sébastien Tellier is a multifaceted instrumentalist/singer from Paris, France's 17th Arrondissement, an elongated arts-and-culture-rich territory on the right bank of the River Seine. After Tellier's "Fantino," a forlorn and beautiful pop confection, appeared on the Source label's 1999 Source Material various-artists compilation, it caught the ear of fellow labelmates Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, better known as Air. The duo and their management team eventually signed Tellier to their own Record Makers imprint. Tellier recorded the tracks for his debut album, L'Incroyable Vérité ("The Unbelievable Truth"), between September 1999 and March 2000, playing most of the instruments and producing the sessions. L'Incroyable Vérité was released in June 2001. He then began his second career as a film composer with the score to 2004's Narco. His next record didn't appear until 2005. Politics was mixed by Philippe Zdar of Cassius and featured a guest spot by drummer Tony Allen of Fela fame. The following year, Tellier re-recorded a batch of his songs acoustically and released them under the title Sessions (though in the U.K. it was retitled Universe and included pieces from Tellier's soundtrack for the film Narco). For his next record, Sexuality, Tellier signed up Daft Punk's Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo as producer and ended up with a more slickly electronic sound than heard on his previous outings. The first single from the record, "Divine," was chosen as France's entry in the 2008 Eurovision contest. Though he didn't win, his appearance and the controversy surrounding it (many French commentators felt that the English lyrics of the song meant it wasn't "French" enough to represent the nation) boosted his profile around the world. In 2007, Tellier worked with Mr. Oizo on the soundtrack and score to Oizo's first feature film Steak, and also composed the score to Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern's road trip film Saint Amour. In 2010, Tellier released an album of remixes of songs from Sexuality titled Sexuality Remix. He returned with new material in 2012 with My God Is Blue, a spiritually minded set that featured a collaboration with de Homem-Christo on the title track. The following year saw the release of Confection, a collection of romantic instrumentals similar to his earliest albums. In 2013, he also collaborated with Chairlift's Caroline Polachek on the single "In the Crew of Tea Time." For 2014's L'Aventura, which was recorded at Jean Michel Jarre's studio in Bougival as well as in Paris and Rio de Janeiro, Tellier added sunny yet mysterious Brazilian elements to his music. In 2016, he worked with Jarre on the latter's 2016 album Electronica, Vol. 2: The Heart of the Noise; that year, Tellier's scores for the film Marie et les Naufragés and the web series A Girl Is a Gun arrived. He also collaborated with Dita Von Teese on a version of Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" that appeared on an amfAR benefit compilation, setting the stage for his writing and production work on her 2018 self-titled debut album. ~ Bryan Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 14, 2013 | Record Makers
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The word "confection" could easily describe Sébastien Tellier's entire musical approach: along with other acts with French roots such as Air and Stereolab, Tellier excels at capturing and modernizing the most romantic and dramatic moments of late-'60s and early-'70s instrumental pop as well as making its kitschier moments sound stylish. He's grown ever more conceptual and chameleon-like over the years; even his most overtly pop albums, like his breakthrough Sexuality and the utopian disco of My God Is Blue, reflect his fondness for exploring a theme while showcasing different aspects of his music. He modeled the largely instrumental Confection after film scores -- an area of music he has some experience with, having written music for the 2004 movie Narco -- but the album could also pass for a more sophisticated version of his debut, 2001's L'Incroyable Verite. Tellier's choice to let Confection's music mostly speak for itself emphasizes its throwback quality, both in terms of his own career as well as his influences. He borrows from John Barry, Paul Mauriat, and Wendy Carlos so convincingly that "Hypnose"'s booming, very 21st century-sounding synth bass is one of the few reminders that the album isn't actually from the '60s or '70s. As usual, his pastiches sound more inspired than cobbled together, and Confection features some of his most emotive music. "Coco et le Labyrinthe" is mysteriously lovely, driven by a poignant flute and arresting major-minor chord changes that could give Tellier's signature track "La Ritournelle" a run for its money, while "L'Amour Naissant" -- one of the few tracks with vocals -- provides Confection's main theme (and would also almost certainly provide the title to the film if this were an actual score). Tellier also finds time for some playful moments; "Waltz" is a perfect re-creation of how the first wave of electronic pop musicians loved setting novel synth sounds to traditional melodies and rhythms. Overall, though, the album is a love letter to old-school romance that feels much less ironic than some of his previous music, particularly on "Delta Romantica," where delicate classical guitars and tumbling drums fall into the arms of sweeping strings. The soulfulness and melancholy of these songs make them special among Tellier's body of work, giving more depth to Confection than might be expected. ~ Heather Phares
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