Jean Touitou: Samba de Merda

Samba de Merda

Jean Touitou, founder and designer of the A.P.C. clothing brand, wrote this song after the Paris attacks in January of 2015. It’s a curious, even tongue-in-cheek catharsis to a real tragedy that seeks desperate healing in a smile. With the involvement of H.D.R. (piano, synthesizer, drums, guitars, effects), Bill Laswell (bass, vibes), and Noam Levy (saxophone), Touitou sings the filling of a tripartite sandwich. Framed by the opening guitar riff of “Jingle Bell Rock” and an emblematic dub from Laswell, Touitou’s unstudied vocalizing might feel right at home on the runway, were it not for the motivations behind its realization.

It’s unsettling to hear Bobby Helms’s Christmas staple out of context, somehow flowing into its own bossa (super)nova as if there were no other words for grief. There is strangeness in these trees, through which the winds of aftermath flow like blood. Here is a dream that whispers to those who are still awake, a shadow behind the laughter. Only Laswell would find a dub lurking in this unremarkable specimen. His bass digs deeper with every scouring of surface, while ambient textures congregate around its roots. So is the linearity of time mocked and burned, its ashes spread across the lips of those who perpetrate destruction for its own sake. A repeating signal for a single bound in hyper-reflection.

This chain of seemingly unconnected events follows a cinematic realism of discomfort. If any message is to be taken from its flicker, it’s that the crust of observation is its own strongest defense against terrorism. It reveals the heart better than any surgery, for it must remain an idea. It must remain one’s own.

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