Sunday, September 14, 2008

R.I.P. Zazou and Wallace

A few days ago I saw a couple of notices about the passing on September 9 of Hector Zazou, a French musician and, primarily in recent years, producer of various eclectic albums. I would compare him to Hal Willner for his collections of unusual musical pairings and collaborations. His album Songs from the Cold Seas is in regular rotation on our iPod, an anthology of songs about northern oceans, eleven songs in eight different languages, featuring (among others) Björk, Suzanne Vega, Jane Siberry, the Finnish quartet Värttina, and Siouxsie (without the banshees). His album Sahara Blue was similar in nature, and featured Bill Laswell, David Sylvian, Ryuichi Sakamoto, all working on songs based on poems of Arthur Rimbaud. He also worked with pianist and composer Harold Budd, African musician Bony Bikaye on a couple of excellent albums, and his catalogue features orchestral and chamber works as well, dating back to the early 1970s. His early albums with Joseph Racaille as ZNR were released on Recommended, Chris Cutler's seminal label that funded the releases with subscriptions, and my earliest introduction to creative and outside music. Anyway, Hector Zazou was a very talented musician, and he will be missed.

Then today, in the morning paper, I see that the author David Foster Wallace committed suicide on Friday. I'm currently reading his book on mathematical infinity, Everything and More, and Infinite Jest is one of my landmark books (you can see it occupying the top shelf of my bookcase here). His writing has been an inspiration to me, although I cannot possibly duplicate his tongue-in-cheek asides, or his wayward diversions into generations of footnotes. Nobody else could get me through the dense mathematics as he has done in Everything and More. For some reason, his writing has resonated with me as few other contemporary authors, most of whose attempts at humor I find to be soulessly glib. A sad day for American letters.

Update:  n.p. Sahara Blue.  Beautiful and creative set of songs, I'm sorry it languished on the shelves.  Imminent import to iTunes.


Anonymous said...

Caleb-Nice write-up about Zazou. I wish I'd thought of the Wilner analogy when I wrote about him in the Echoes Blog.
Hector was a curious character. I interviewed him a couple of times and he always had this slightly askance attitude, which I guess typifies a lot of his music as well.

Caleb Deupree said...

When we lived in Dayton, we ran into a guy in a restaurant who had worked with Zazou, shocked that anyone in this backwater would have heard of him, who was back in Ohio taking care of some family business. He didn't have many nice things to say, so perhaps the askance attitude flowed into his production work as well, and didn't fit with the perhaps more linear approach that my interlocutor preferred.