Benjamin Schoos

China Man Versus China Girl by Benjamin Schoos (Freaksville Records)

Best known as the mastermind behind Freaksville Records, Benjamin Schoos has taken center stage this time, and the results are nothing short of spectacular. Imagine infectious French pop mixed with cinematic reprieves and wistful inflections, and you are only beginning to envision the delightful sonic adventures the ubiquitous Mr. Schoos has in store for you. Almost all of the songs are in French, making the China Man Versus China Girl collection an intriguing affair. All this, and there are some real surprises in the guest vocal department that should cement the deal for many a music affiecinado.

A short introduction entitled High-Flying Melancholia instantly reels the listener into the magical musical tour, followed by the haunting reveries of Marquise. Je Ne Vois Que Vous is a stunning duet with its shimmering melodies and wondrous vocals work of both Schoos and special guest Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab. This stylish composition should be a worldwide hit if they ever actually played anything interesting on the radio.

Profession Catcheur and La Chinoise are both sweet and dramatic, taking the listener far away from their everyday life and into the most neo-romantic images of Paris.  Catch will make you want to snap your fingers as the song weaves its dashing path into your heart.

The title cut Chinaman Vs. Chinagirl is up next, a track of pure pop perfection with a clever mix of super cool spoken word and sweet background singing swirling throughout the tune. A Mort L’amour! then continues on its dazzling path with its timeless, absolutely breathtaking soundscapes.  Le Combat revs up the album, playful and wildly infectious in scope.

A musical wrestling match commences with the ominous strains of Arthur Cravan Vs. Jack Johnson. Then it’s the battle of the femme fatales, as special guest Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders and Parisian icon Marie France duet on In Garcon Qui Pleure – radiating a seductive finesse that renders this track an absolute standout. What a treat to the ears this marvelous cut is, especially the vocal work of these two legends!  And then closing out China Man Versus China Girl on a dream-like note is the majestic Worlds Away, featuring an arresting appearance by none other than Mark Gardener of Ride.

Benjamin Schoos has definitely created vibrant tapestries that will be revered by those seeking a worldly adventure within their music. China Man Versus China Girl is a grand musical journey one will want to revisit time and again, regardless of the listeners understanding of the French language.  It will be exciting to hear future tapestries from this imaginative Belgium-based artist.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

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