Petomane: Top Trumps

Petomane: Top Trumps
Infinite Largesse CDR, ltd to 50 numbered copies.


The pop group Petomane is named after fin de siècle French fart performer Le Pétomane, and, fittingly, the group records on the perpetual edge of eruption, threatening to evacuate a plenitude of puns and digital synths. The album cover depicts a carney’s time tunnel on a desolate urban playing field which promises ‘travel in the year 2000’. It is a quotidian image of retro-futurism, projected directly from our collective memories, and indeed there is a sense that the album has been violently expelled from the middle-distant twentieth century. A 1980s flavour to synths may currently be fashionable, but the Petomane sound is long-established. Taking the album as a whole, the sensation is not one of its having been squeezed through the many sphincters of the past to fall stale in our lap; rather the album sucks the listener up into its dark inner carnival. The setting is something like this: a disco crowd all dolled up for a gig by the Thompson Twins circa 1984 drinking gins and tonics in the plush interior of a velveteen-seated cinema which projects the mid-70s documentary on the Kursaal Flyers trying to buy a pint of milk on tour, and the late-70s Patrick McGoohan medical detective vehicle Rafferty.

The group sent me a document to accompany the music and steer me away from ‘damaging opinions’ on each song. Having cross referenced my notes with theirs, I can confirm that damage will be done: you’ve sent it out into the world now John, nothing can protect your beauties from my brain violence.

‘The Plumber’ lays down the dateline: Climate of Hunter, Blancmange, Peter York, the Cold War — the 1980s are inescapable; yet when the dance beat is halted by furry-hatted Cossacks they bring harmony, and the ageless spirit of music rises throughout. ‘Theme from Yellow Glove’ invokes Pan in kino: his marigolds squelching in the fairy liquid, rinsing off noise and distortion and projecting the melody, not in retina-searing digital HD, but the warm tones of Super 8. Breton’s Nadja has a glove like that: I saw it under glass in Tate Modern in 2001 and even in its prophylactic case it was more tactile than the tips of Holger Czukay’s snooker ref mitts. Unlike most pop music, Petomane’s eroticism is well out of the toilet: it has leaked out of the window and into the world – a noble influence on our nation’s children.

Too close to their creation to see its Alpine splendour, the esteem in which Petomane’s admirers hold ‘The Dark Night of David Soul’ mystifies the group. ‘You were awful in that German TV thing’ it sings as the music is layered like the overlapping episodes of a lucid dream: the dreamer unwittingly struggling to impose coherence — oh! the moribundity of rationalism. But our insane master Sleep always wins! And it wins with this album: not in its soporific qualities, but in its enclosing the listener in the warm fragrant air of the woozy aftermath of a little too much good food, good wine, the conversation taking a bewildering direction at 4 am.