La Vogue

BB 324LP BB 324LP

LP version. Bureau B present a reissue of Serge Blenner's La Vogue, originally released in 1980. Music for the apocalyptic eighties Deutschland state of mind. When Serge Blenner left his native France for Hamburg, West Germany, neither he nor anyone else could have guessed that he would inadvertently compose a soundtrack for the Cold War. But his dark, monotone synthesizer album La Vogue turned out to be just that. Blenner was born in 1955 in Alsace, the easternmost region of France. He studied composition and harmony at the Conservatoire de Mulhouse. He loved listening to electronic music from the Berlin School: Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel/Manuel Göttsching, whom he got to know when they played in Alsatian churches and chapels. Blenner the proselyte had seen enough to realize: it was time to move to Germany, whence this music came. The year was 1975. He soon began experimenting with electronic music himself and graduated to live performances by 1978 and finally settled in Hamburg in 1979. One of the most important electronic music labels of the period, Sky Records, was based in Hamburg. Within the space of six months, Blenner had recorded the tracks which would become La Vogue and sent them to Sky Records. A deal was done and La Vogue was officially released before the year ended. The record was a resounding success, some tracks even made it onto the radio -- crucially, aired at hours of the day when significant numbers of listeners were tuning in. The longest track on La Vogue by far clocks up to nearly nine minutes, a rarity in Blenner's oeuvre, well outside his usual range of three-to-five minutes. La Vogue is an album of two halves. Through the first four tracks, Blenner still seems to be searching for his own style, beginning with the minimalistic, rather somber fanfare of "Phrase I" built around a single melodic pattern. Next up is the almost poppy, harmonically rich "Phrase II", followed by the spherical "Phrase III" and the crystalline, chiming "Phrase IV". If the first four cuts are linked only by heterogeneity, tracks five to eight are very much of a piece. Together they represent a frosty, menacing soundtrack worthy of the apocalyptic mood which hung over the early 1980s, particularly in West Germany. With Cold War angst at its peak, many people feared a Soviet nuclear attack was imminent.