Les Negresses Vertes

  • Les Negresses Vertes
  • Mlah (Sire/Warner Bros.) 1989 

Impossible to categorize (forget that Gallic Pogues nonsense), this bizarre eight-man group indulges the typically French fascination for exoticism without giving up any native ground. The instrumentation on Mlah — mostly acoustic guitars, accordion, horns, Spanish-and-African flavored percussion — is in the tradition of Parisian buskers, but the sound isn’t. Heady, invigorating and often dark, it’s perfect existentialist-basement-café music for the more worldbeat minded; while some of the songs tend to be arch, others (like “Orane”) evoke wonderful, one-of-a-kind moods and images.

[Glenn Kenny]