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Nicknamed the Primdufs, they are neither Smurfs nor cave dwellers, just a happy collective of musicians who always have their instruments at the ready. They all have an inexplicable passion for a musical genre that some could consider obsolete, outdated and antique: the French ‘valse musette’ (a kind of popular swing waltz music, ndlt). But let’s be clear, this has nothing in common with the smutty chords of popular balls and singalongs in little town halls, nor with the trills of another generation linked to names like Horner or Verchuren in afternoon tea dances. No, this is ‘bal musette’ with balls, genuine, virile, authentic, and athletic, which used to get the blokes and the birds jivingin the no-man’s land of demolished forts around what the Parisians call Paname. Seen like that it is easy to imagine that the Primitifs du Futur, for that is their name, enjoy carefully recreating in minute detail museum pieces from the pungent remains of past festivals. It is more than that. Because though these noble savages like rummaging around in 1920s Paris, they don’t shy away from including rhythms from all over the planet, rhumba from Zaireto, gypsy jazz, Hindu waltzes or Argentine tango, blues, ‘paso doble’ or ‘chanson réaliste’.
It all began in 1986, when Dominique Cravic, ‘’ukukeke’’ champion and a renowned guitarist who learned from jazzmen like Lee Konitz or Larry Coryell and also played with Georges Moustaki and Henri Salvador, met a certain Robert Crumb. Yes, the legendary comic book author from the great days of the US psychedelic underground in the 70s, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr Natural in person, the same man who also created the cover for ‘’Cheap Thrills’’ by Janis Joplin. Crumb plays banjo and mandolin, collects 78 sof blues, jazz and… musette. The two cronies then composed their own made-to-measure orchestra, alongside many famous names including accordionist Daniel Colin, clarinettist Bertrand Auger, saxophonist Daniel Huck, bassist Jean-Philippe Viret or singer Claire Elzière (sorry, it’s impossible to name them all). This great group has recorded four albums since 1986 (all with sleeves drawn by Crumb), some including guest stars such as Pierre Barouh, Jean-Jacques Milteau, AllainLeprest, Sanseverino or Olivia Ruiz. For thirty years, the Primitifs du Futur have carried the torch of musette to the four corners of the earth, from fiestas to festivals, and today release a double vinyl, entitled ‘Résumé des épisodes précédents’ which brings together the best of their adventures. It is a refreshing and heartening cocktail of ‘’world tribal musette’’, as they call it, which, in these electro digital times, has a rejuvenating effect, amagic swing potion. Les Primitifs du Futur take us back to the future.
‘’THE PRIMITIFS DU FUTUR travel on sound waves back in time to the early twentieth century and make the world seem like a far better place than it ever actually was. I cant get the band's music off my turntable or out of my head. Accordion, mandolin, harmonica, saxophone, musical saw, and beautiful haunting melodies—what’s not to love? Even their sad songs make me happy.’’ Art Spiegelman.