The Next Wave of Poet-Rock: Jean-Louis Aubert & Michel Houellebecq's "Les parages du vide"

April 28, 2014 | By Souen Léger I translated & readapted by Sophie Thunberg

Jean-Louis Aubert, the former singer of popular French rock band Téléphone (1976-1986) and Michel Houellebecq, the controversial award-winning French poet have joined creative quirky forces in collaboration of a sensational poetic rock project, Les parages du vide (The spaces of emptiness). Released on April 14th, the album features 16 songs composed by Aubert with lyrics from Houellebecq’s collection of poetry in Configuration du dernier ravage (Flammarion, 2013).  

This dangerously introspective duo’s video “Isolement” (“Isolation”) also made its debut last week with Houellebecq lip-synching his own lines over Aubert’s voice: “Où est-ce que je suis ? Qui êtes-vous ? Qu'est-ce que je fais ici ? Emmenez-moi partout, Partout mais pas ici;” (“Where Am I? Who are you? What am I doing here? Bring me everywhere, everywhere but not here;”).  Black and white shots of the two stoic-faced men sitting side-by-side in an old house, by a lake, and on a countryside road add to the alluring poetic effect of the partnership.

Jean-Louis Aubert is not the first musician to find inspiration in Houellebecq’s poetry. In 2009 punk music legend Iggy Pop released his softer jazzy album Préliminaires, inspired by Houellebecq’s novel La possibilité d’une île (The Possibility of an Island) (Fayard, 2005). 

Slowly haunting and lyrical, the poet-rock album Les parages du vide (The spaces of emptiness) is the existential and charming love child of a troubadour and a poet.  The poetic rock genre will hopefully continue to inspire more collaborative pieces and continue to push creative boundaries.  Just imagine if Proust or Baudelaire, and Serge Gainsbourg (or why not even Daft Punk or Phoenix) ever had a chance to combine their music and prose. The possibilities of rock and poetry duos are endless in making printed pages come alive through song.

(Original article published in Livres Hebdo in French).

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