Lizzy Mercier Descloux: 4 Reissues of Late Singer's Genre-Defying Work Coming in 2016: Exclusive
Earlier this year, Light in the Attic Records delivered a beautiful reissue of the late Lizzy Mercier Descloux's 1979 debut album Press Color. Despite Descloux being a fixture of the New York avant-garde scene that's been subject to increasing fetishization over the years, the musical career of this Parisian poet-turned-Lower East Side innovator has remained criminally underappreciated.
That's why Billboard is excited to announce that on Feb. 26, 2016, Light in the Attic Records will follow Press Color with four reissues constituting the rest of Lizzy Mercier Descloux's studio catalog: Mambo Nassau (1981), Zulu Rock (1984), One for the Soul (1986) and Suspense (1988). Listen to a preview of songs from those albums below.
Although she's often lumped within the no wave scene (which isn't entirely unfair given her loose concern for traditional song structure and technical prowess), Lizzy Mercier's music is far more vibrant and varied than more famous recordings to come out of the late '70s, early '80s underground NYC scene. While much of that era's experimental music was dark, challenging and dour, Mercier's was ecstatic, colorful and uninhibited -- but no less innovative. It was fitting she originally released with ZE Records, the label that hosted fellow category-defying acts like Was (Not Was) and Cristina.
Mambo Nassau -- the album which found Descloux moving from New York to the Bahamas -- is certainly the most exciting reissue of the bunch. It's not simply the late singer's finest, it's an essential, exhilarating mélange of disco, funk, post-punk and film soundtrack music that's unlike anything else the '80s produced. This is a cult favorite that, upon historical reassessment, deserves to be tiered with the era's best LPs. Her bonkers cover of Kool & the Gang's "Funky Stuff" is worth the price of admission alone. You have to fast-forward decades to M.I.A. to find anyone making iconoclastic music with this much joy.
Her next album, Zulu Rock, was less experimental in song structure but perhaps more stylistically influential. For her third, Descloux once again relocated, this time to Johannesburg, South Africa, to record an album that mixed African folk with the sounds of her native France. Following in the footsteps of Talking Heads' Afrobeat-inspired output but freeing her music of rock's constraints, Descloux crafted another ingenious triumph that gave her a No. 1 hit single in France -- "Mais Où Sont Passées Les Gazelles?", her reworking of a South African disco hit. The album also featured Descloux recording in her native tongue more extensively than before, and finding inspiration in deceased French ex-pat Arthur Rimbaud, also a favorite of her one-time roommate Patti Smith.
Her next album, One for the Soul, found the singer moving to Rio De Janeiro and pushing further into jazz music with assists from legendary trumpeter Chet Baker not long before his death. LMD's final album, Suspense, remains an underappreciated entry in the catalog of a singer who already qualifies as a cult favorite -- which is to say, it deserves much more attention than it's gotten over the years.
Descloux died of cancer in 2004 at age 48. Possibly as a result of her death, possibly as a function of the turn-of-the-century Internet fostering a file-sharing culture that traded in lost classics, Descloux's stature has slowly but steadily increased over the years. Hopefully with Light in the Attic's four new Lizzy Mercier album reissues, her idiosyncratic art will reach even more ears.