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Dans Cent Ans is not a record: it’s a talisman. Flavien Berger doesn’t make music, he makes time machines. In 2015, after studying sound design at ENSCI (Nation School of Industrial Creation) and conceiving visual installations with Collectif Sin, he released his first album, Leviathan, which he’d imagined like a moment suspended into the bowels of present time.
In 2018, Contre-Temps, his critically acclaimed second album, was a flashback, buried memories surfacing thanks to music, triggering a remembrance, like a smell would. Dans Cent Ans (“In 100 Years”) ends this trilogy and launches into the future, still for Pan European Recording, with the complicity of label founder Arthur Peschaud.
Flavien had just finished producing Pomme’s last album (Consolation) in Quebec and was simultaneously scoring Céline Devaux’s feature film Tout le monde aime Jeanne, when he recorded this album, during six months of isolation. In the garret of a Belgian house in construction, these 12 tracks were born, close to the sky, both direct and mysterious. Songs on which nothing is superfluous, and everything is bewitching. Because Flavien Berger knows how to make machines sound sensual (a key example is the pop song “D’ici là”) and dares to interweave electronics, chanson and art music, organic instruments and synthetic choirs, without ever falling into parodic territory. Because his voice, more precise, unreverbed, and close-mic’d than ever, sings to our ears – using multisyllabic rhymes (“Trop ivres pour te plaire / Tropiques du cancer”) and surrealist imagery (“la neige restera rose” – “the snow will remain pink”) – stories that feel unknown yet obvious. Amongst them, the famous butterfly dream of Tchouang-Tseu (“!»”, recorded on a walkie-talkie), the gentle “Jericho” (where his androgynous voice creates gender confusion), or the absurd “Pied de biche”, a reminder that in this musician’s work, love is all the more poetic when entwined with humor.
This album also contains echoes of previous ones, like a glass pyramid. The diabolical “666666” holds a mirror to previously released “88888888” and “999999999”. And like both previous albums ended with a long eponymous track like a breath of air, “Leviathan” and “Contre-temps”, so does “Dans Cent Ans”, a 15-minute long saga where vocals, wind instruments and machines converse, as if Debussy, Etienne Daho and a Sufi Dervish met in a dream and made music together, in an orange house flooded with water.
After listening to this album, the vertigo of love and the collision of times are one and the same, and we find ourselves like two will-o-the-wisps. In one hundred years, music will survive us all, and its dangerous beauty will awaken other lives. In the meantime, Flavien Berger keeps stunning ours.