Oscar Wilde + Eno + French fury = Metal Urbain

March 27th, 2004

metal urbain cdTonight you’re in for a good show at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco. Elbow your way through the smarmy clots of hipsters in the front room and pay $10 to enter the grittier back room, where you’ll see old-school French electronica punks Metal Urbain. I checked out last night’s show and I loved their unique sound: angry punk anthems screamed in French, backed by dirty guitars, a laptop and what seems to be a weird old drum machine.

I didn’t know a thing about this band until I heard one of their tracks on KUSF a couple of days ago. A little Web and liner-note research reveals that they started out in 1976. They were big influences on the Jesus & Mary Chain and on Big Black (including Steve Albini who later produced the Pixies and Nirvana).

Hypnotic lead singer Eric Debris cites Oscar Wilde (!) and “anti-naturalistic” philosophy as major inspirations. The liner notes say they were the first punk band to use synth percussion, and they were the sole punk band to adopt Brian Eno’s approach to electronica (that is, using electronics for unique sonic potential, rather than just to replicate real instrument sounds).

I wish I could find the lyrics and figure out what Debris was shouting about… It definitely involved sex and Fascism.

UPDATE 5/31/04:Jason Harlan reports that Metal Urbain played a set on kickass indy radio station WFMU; you can listen to a RealAudio-format recording of it here.

2 Responses to “Oscar Wilde + Eno + French fury = Metal Urbain”

  1. comment number 1 by: alice

    I translated one song for you. But it’s a bit old-fashioned, like it dated back to the happy seventies.

    Paris, freedom fighters,

    inventing freedom

    filed, wanted, bashed in

    Facing thugs masquerading as

    solid watchdogs of learning

    paid and armed to kill us

    Paris, freedom fighting everyday

    a con game where you can’t but lose

    Terror murder every second

    Funny killer state

    Liberty fragility

    Revolution resistance

    Paris daily freedom fight

    zombie city overpowered

    safe-like museums of brainwashing

    the city resists terrorists

    Kill the state in the pocket

    I charge the state with oppressing me


  2. comment number 2 by: John Stuart Mill

    Every great movement must experience three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.