Fans of Serge Gainsbourg, listen up!! When not running the brilliant Freaksville label, Benjamin Schoos is concentrating his efforts into producing lush, string-laden, melancholic and very French pop. Here, on his North American debut, he’s working with guest vocalists inluding Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Mark Gardener (Ride), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) and Parisian icon Marie France.
Previously, multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Schoos produced, composed and arranged songs for a variety of cult figures in the French pop scene, including ’80s synthpop star LIO, debonair dandy Alain Chamfort, Michel Moers and Marc Moulin from electronic group Telex.
However more recently, Benjamin found himself inspired by the technical genius of orchestrator Jean Claude Vannier (Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson), who he met in 2006, and the creativity of New York noise producer Kramer (Shimmy Disc, Galaxie 500, Low, Bongwater), with whom he has worked on three albums. Benjamin took some time away from his label and production work to unleash his inner soundscapes on China Man Versus China Girl.
Composed and recorded in nights at the Freaksville Lab, Benjamin has created a rich, rhythmic FM pop sound drawing on the glossy melody and soaring synthesizers of ’70s soft rock with orchestral flourishes taken from the besy of French cinema soundtracks.
Touched by the charm of Benjamin’s songwriting, Chinaman Versus China Girl has attracted some highly prolific guest appearances: a duet with Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) on the wonderfully catchy pop song “Je Ne Vois Que Vous,” lead vocals by Mark Gardener (Ride) on the romantic, “Barryesque Worlds Away” and Chrissie Hynde duetting with Parisian chanteuse Marie France on caustic ballad “NAME,” in which they play the role of femmes fatales digging their claws into the male population
With the occasional nod towards surrealist poet Arthur Craven and great American boxer Jack Johnson (to whom Mile Davis dedicated an album), Chinaman Versus China Girl is a collection of wistful, cinematic songs analysing the pugilistic dimension of life, art and love under a unlikely metaphor. “It’s the perfect soundtrack of a drama movie about wrestling,” says Schoos. “Wrestling is a great sport and a metaphor of love – or pretending to be in love.”