Raised by ’70s hippy parents in a Pyrenees commune, Basil ‘Juantrip’ Compain should by now be strumming wanky cod-spiritual campfire ditties on Mediterranean beaches, or playing shit [a]Bob Marley[/a] covers for pocket change in the bowels of the Paris Metro.
Fortunately, Baz was led down an altogether more groovesome path by rave music, Ecstasy and electronica. Which is why ‘Balmy Under The Stormy’ is no acid-fried wibblefest from the dark side of some Eurohippy’s burnt-out husk of a brain. But nor, thankfully, is it the latest lazy barrel-scraping from the increasingly vacant French disco boom. Instead, this is a truly uncategorisable and hugely likeable debut album.
Though he may look and talk like ‘Mad’ Richard Ashcroft before the drugs stopped working, Compain‘s panoramic vision is clearly the product of a keenly functioning mind. His musical juxtapositions might border on the unorthodox, but never on the unlistenable. From the funkadelic orchestral rush of ‘Fly To The Moon’ to the acid-rock swirls of ‘Downward Rush Of The Streams’, he flits between eras and styles with no hint of self-consciousness or artifice. You might hear Syd Barrett‘s paisley sighs in here, as well as Julian Cope‘s druidic wibbling and rogue snatches of surf guitar – but all fused with the sky-kissing psychotronic ease of Primal Scream at their most chemically refreshed. ‘Balmy …’ is the best neo-Balearic psychedelic folk-soul album ever made by a cosmically inclined Frenchman named Basil. And that’s a promise.