Incredible album by French singer Pierre Barouh recorded July 1982 at Nippon Columbia Studio in Tokyo and composed, arranged, and played by a monumental cast of legendary musicians and producers including Yasuaki Shimizu, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yukihiro Takahashi, Francis Lai, Kazuhiko Katoh, Motohiko Hamase, most of the Moonriders (Keiichi Suzuki, Tohru Okada, Masahiro Takekawa), Daniel Lavoie, Masanori Sasaji, Hideo Yamaki (Toshinori Kondo & IMA) and many more. Also featuring David Sylvian, Harumi Ohzora, and Nanako Satoh.
The official reissue of Pierre Barouh’s hard-to-describe-but-easy-to-enjoy French flair meets Japanese avant-garde lost treasure of experimental-electronic-chanson-pop with a new-wave-minimal-bossa touch, Le Pollen. Originally recorded July 1982 at Nippon Columbia Studio in Tokyo and composed, arranged, and played by a who’s who of Japan’s most groundbreaking musicians of the 80s, the album comes as a LP with bonus 7inch, housed in a heavy sleeve displaying two immaculate photos of Barouh and holding a printed lyrics insert.
A free-spirited world traveler with an incredible ear for music, Paris-born singer and activist Pierre Barouh introduced the sounds of Brazil (and more) to Europe and pushed the envelope with his pioneering label Saravah, home of adventurous innovators Brigitte Fontaine, Areski, Jacques Higelin, Naná Vasconcelos, and Roland Bocquet’s Catharsis among many others. His bohemian border-free vision of modern chanson, blending musical tradition from various parts of the globe with forward-looking artistry, resonated particularly well in Japan, where the scene spearheaded by Yellow Magic Orchestra fell in love with everything Barouh.
And so one day in 1981, Pierre Barouh received an invitation from a Japanese label to come record an album in Tokyo. Not one to turn down an escapade around the world, the French visionary jumped on a plane and landed in a studio surrounded with a dream line-up of musicians: Yukihiro Takahashi (who had named his solo debut Saravah! after Barouh’s imprint) and Ryuichi Sakamoto of YMO, Yasuaki Shimizu and his Mariah bandmates Masanori Sasaji and Hideo Yamaki, members of the Moonriders, Motohiko Hamase, Mitsuru Sawamura of Interior, Kazuhiko Katoh and the list goes on. Also participating in the making of the album were longtime collaborator Francis Laï and the mysterious and beautiful David Sylvian.
The result is Le Pollen, a sincere and affectionate mix of nouveau chanson, techno-pop, post-punk, jazz, bossa, ambient, and minimalism. And probably something else entirely. Honestly impossible to classify in a particular genre, Pierre Barouh’s fascinating cosmopolitan music melting pot is, above all, a reassuring ode to humanity, where friendship, exchange, and collaborative creativity breeze freely. Making music together. It’s all love.
Pierre Barouh sadly passed away in December 2016, leaving behind a monumental legacy of music and art for us to cherish, and a life philosophy that’s well worth considering:
La vie, qu’elle soit longue ou brève
Moi, tous mes rêves
Je les prends toujours au sérieux
Quand l’utopie brise les chaînes
De ceux qui sont restés curieux
Life, be it long or brief
Me, all my dreams
I always take them seriously
When utopia breaks the chains
It’s the oxygen,
Of those who’ve remained curious
From the song "L’Autre Rive" on Le Pollen.