Swinging Caravan Palace Style

By Morgana Newcombe

– A fitting title for the first single of a highly anticipated follow up to the self-titled album of Caravan Palace (2008). The song’s powerful megaphone sound and driving bass line punctuated by haunted, echoing vocals has an otherworldly force that compels one to rock to its pervading pulse.

“Seems to feel that beat you can’t stop bouncing
Why don’t we keep that rhythm just what it sounds”

The song plays like some alien sermon, bouncing and pulsing in a warped and incessant fashion with a driving bass line to which the lyrics are sung in a slave like fashion.

They have also spurred a rather occult-like following. Fans dress in Charlie-Chaplin-esque bowler hats, trouser braces and vintage footwear and have expanded on the 1920’s jive style dance. The music created by Caravan Palace takes on a vaudeville electro-circus almost gypsy-like abandon and it seems fitting that their image is just as unique.

For an ensemble that started out composing sound tracks for ancient erotic films from the “silent” era, Caravan Palace has come a long way to creating a style of electro jazz that is both contemporary as well as retrospective. Their unique fusions of the classic jazz “scat” singing style in “Star Scat” and the hit single, “Suzy” on their first album, used electronic synthesizer beats and a traditional swing violin melody setting their style apart from many other contemporary electro groups.

Already a great hit, their debut sold 150 000 copies, gaining platinum record status and achieved multiple accolades in Belgium and Switzerland, while rising to the 11th slot on French music charts. Not surprisingly, when their second album arrived on shelves in March this year, it had rather large (two-tone) dancing shoes to fill. But we are not disappointed.

Only the singles on the album (Clash, Dramophone and Rock it for Me) and a few other songs use the same extent of dubbing and distortion on the vocals. But the high-tempo, gypsy-jazz beats of Caravan Palace’s first album, have evolved to produce a sophisticated fusion of electro, house and dub in their new album, Panic. Panic is somewhat more mature and sophisticated than their first album.

This Parisian based group of Django Reinhardt inspired acolytes first appeared in 2007, in Samois, where they wowed audiences with their swinging jazz rhythms and driving bass lines at the Django Reinhardt Festival.

The original trio: Charles Delaporte, Arnaud Vial and Hugues Payen – started the group using the traditional instruments of the style, guitar, double bass and violin, and built on the musical genius of their favourite genre; 1930s and 40s swing jazz. Combined with contemporary beats best epitomised by the electro and dub fusions of house, they continue to mix seemingly incompatible forms. Since they first started out, four additions have been made to the band, with Camille Chapeliere (Clarinet), Antoine Toustou (Trombone), Paul-Marie Barbier (vibraphone and brushes) and Zoe Colotois on vocals.

However, they have strayed slightly from their traditional jazz roots and the singles from their second album, Panic are almost more eclectic in their use of dubbing, syncopated beats and distorted vocals than their self-entitled debut. Yet Panic still has just as much to offer as its predecessor. If not more! Consider it a rollercoaster worth hoping on as its growth of sound has reached new heights.

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One thought on “Swinging Caravan Palace Style

  1. Pingback: Past meets Present with Parov Stelar | AudioMob Music Reviews

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