Trisomie 21

  • Trisomie 21
  • Million Lights (Play It Again Sam) 1987 
  • Works (Play It Again Sam) 1989 
  • T21 Plays the Pictures (Play It Again Sam) 1990 

Although Trisomie 21 (whose lineup includes a full member credited with “advice and assistance”) has an extensive back catalogue of records at home, America has only recently begun enjoying the French quartet’s unsettling mutation of lush techno-pop with industrial dance ingredients. Alternating discrete songs with bilingual semi-tuneless vocals and Hervé Lomprez’s intriguing instrumentals, Million Lights is a continually shifting soundscape, combining keyboards, guitar, percussion, sound effects and other elements in a nicely moderated loud/soft pleasant/disturbing environment that never turns sonically hostile.

Works, however, is a hapless stab at suave continental electro-pop (including, in “The Missing Piece,” a futile attempt to copy New Order), an awful album that downplays the group’s adventurous side to showcase Philippe Lomprez’s inept crooning, a laughable approximation of Maurice Chevalier imitating Bryan Ferry. Besides a tendency to drift along aimlessly, like Pink Floyd at its most dissolute, the spare and delicately atmospheric Plays the Pictures — a concept album based around movies and their music — searches out surprising contrasts through frequent use of incongruous samples.

[Ira Robbins]