Playlist: Post-punk France / California

February 28, 2013 | By French Culture
Cover of Rosa Yemen - Self-Titled (1979)

In the wake of the punk explosion of 1977, both the US and France became fertile ground for the various strands of post-punk that grew out of the rubble. In France, a few bands stuck with punk’s stripped down garage rock sound, but many quickly incorporated synthesizers, and pushed into noisier realms beyond rock’s traditional palette. In the US, there was perhaps no place that the better reflected France’s eclecticism than California. Los Angeles bred some of the world’s most bare, minimal hardcore punk, but it also fostered a fertile crossover between the art and music underground, with bands like Destroy All Monsters helmed by artists Jim Shaw and Mike Kelley. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, groups like Tuxedomoon, The Residents and Units explored electronic and atonal sound in ways that paralleled musicians like Charles De Goal, Rosa Yemen and The (Hypothetical) Prophets in France.

Inspired by Ceci n’est pas, a five month artistic exchange between Los Angeles and France initiated by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, this playlist highlights the intersections between underground music scenes in France and California. In both France and California these scenes were intertwined with visual art, and many of musical connections you will hear have parallels in the art of the time.

The playlist is made up of tracks recorded in France and California between 1977 and 1982, the height of post-punk around the world. It begins with two iconic songs X’s “Los Angeles”  and Metal Urbain’s “Panik,” alternating back and forth between California and France throughout, and moving from more straightforward punk rock sounds to the farther reaches of the post-punk experimental underground.

Here's the list:

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