L’Impératice — founder Charles de Boisseguin (keys), Hagni Gown (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), Tom Daveau (drums) and Flore Benguigui (vocals) — is a rising Paris-based electro pop sextet that formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the French electro pop act has been extremely busy and prolific: within their first three years together, they released 2012’s self-titled debut EP., 2014’s Sonate Pacifique EP and 2015’s Odyssée EP.
In 2016, L’impératrice released a re-edited, remixed and slowed down version of Odyssée, L’Empreruer, which was inspired by a fan mistakenly playing a vinyl copy of Odyssée at the wrong speed. L’Impératice followed that up with a version of Odysseé featuring arrangements centered around violin, cello and acoustic guitar. During the summer of 2017, the Parisian electro pop act signed to microqlima records, who released that year’s Séquences EP.
2018’s full-length debut Matahari featured “Erreur 404,” which they performed on the French TV show Quotidien. Since then, the Parisian electro pop act have released an English language version of Matahari — and they’ve been busy working on the highly anticipated Renaud Letang co-produced sophomore album Taku Tsubo. Slated for a March 26, 2021 release through their longtime label home, the album derives its name from the medical term for broken heart syndrome, takutsubo syndrome (蛸 壺, from Japanese “octopus trap”). The condition usually manifests itself as deformation of the heart’s left ventricle caused by severe emotional or physical stress — i.e., the death of a loved one, an intense argument with someone you care about, a breakup, a sudden illness or the like. So, in case you were a wondering: yes, an untreated broken heart can actually kill you.
Over the course of the past year, I’ve written about three of Taku Tsubo‘s released singles:
- “Voodoo?,” a slinky disco strut featuring a propulsive groove, layers of arpeggiated synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar and Benguigui’s sultry, come-hither vocals. Interestingly, one of the few songs written and sung in English on the album, the track features a narrator, who attends a party and decides to leave early to read Torture Magazine instead.
- “Peur des filles,” another slinky disco floor strut that’s a scathing and sarcastic ode to the differences between men and women that points out how shitty men are.
- Album opener “Anomalie bleue” which was one part Giorgio Moroder-like disco, one part Kraftwerk-like retro-futurism, one part Shalamar-like funk within an expansive, mind-bending song structure. But just under the dance floor friendly grooves, the song’s narrator charmingly describes love-at-first site with a beautiful, blue wearing anomaly that suddenly appears in a lobby full of drab suited con-men, grifters and CEOs and bored business travelers.
Tako Tsubo‘s fourth and last official single before its release, “Hématome” is a slinky and groovy, Quiet Storm-like bit of synth pop that reminds me of Cherrelle, Evelyn “Champagne” King and others, centered around shimmering analog synths, squiggling funk guitar, a supple and funky bass line and Benguigui’s sultry vocals. Co-written by Fils Cara, “Hématome,” as the band explains in press notes “is a wound of love, all the more vivid, as its inflicted from a distance, by interposed screens.”
Directed by Roxane Lumeret and Jocelyn Charles, the recently released, animated video for “Hématome” is a surrealist fever dream full of symbolic metamorphoses and transformations: the video begins with a primate/humanoid nurse trying to restore her patients to health — but things get very odd: people transform into animals, animals transform into other animals and even inanimate objects seemingly at will, including the eventual cure for the protagonist’s condition.