Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo)
160-gram LP. Gatefold sleeve with new artwork. The elusive allure of Vidéo-Aventures is challenging to capture, and Megaphone/Knock'em Dead's reissue of their second LP, Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo) (1984, Tago Mago, France), reveals an album with a conviction in paradox that serves only to magnify their mystery. Plunging feverishly where their debut (Musique pour Garçons et Filles, 1979, Recommended Records) traipsed and alighted with informed whimsy, Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo) retains the duo of Dominique Grimaud and Monique Alba, abetted strikingly (and, often, surprisingly) by Jac Berrocal, Guigou Chenevier (Etron Fou Leloublan), Sophie Jausserand, Gilbert Artman (Lard Free, Catalogue, Urban Sax), Cyril Lefebvre, and Daniel Deshays. The result is a tour de force in several significant respects. Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo) is not obviously similar to its beguiling predecessor -- indeed, there are moments in which it calls for the listener's intrepidity and insight -- but it is at least as captivating. Venturing further from traditional instrumentation, Vidéo-Aventures employ elements of musique concrète, disjointed and enfeebled speech, accelerated percussion, and synthesized physical function (pulse, breathing, etc.). The chronicle of a singular process from a single perspective, it narrates the deterioration of a mind in the aftermath of duress. That mind is the narrator, but only from a sensory standpoint, as if the listener were seated inside the narrator's skull. What the listener hears is what the subject hears -- complete with pounding heartbeat, gasping breath, blood rushing through the head -- amounting to a devastating treatise against ends justifying means. Regardless of interpretation, Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo) succeeds on its own extensive musical merits. This record is borne of the dissonant, microscopic interim between impulse and accordant action. The change that occurs within that tiny lag is seldom heralded, but on Camera (In Focus) Camera (Al Riparo), Vidéo-Aventures inhabits it, isolating the transformation/mutation that crystallizes in flashes both smaller than fully formed thoughts and containing the universe of perception. Within each track, Vidéo-Aventures present an evolution, but not a hierarchical one -- in the specificity of their arrangements, they convey an instability that is unnervingly true to the variability and unpredictability of memory. This quality, which had punctuated their debut album, becomes here a harrowing pillar that unites every track within a claustrophobic continuum of emotions. The result is an opus that contains seamless and varied musical brilliance, conceptual continuity, and indomitably humane integrity.