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Culture Reviews
By Jeremy Schaar
What makes a show good? The band. What makes a show great? The crowd. Friday night at Apelsin had both elements, but Telepopmusic took little credit. “We were terrible, but they were great,” said singer Angela McCluskey. Drummer/DJ Christophe Hetier agreed that the crowd was fantastic, “It’s more about attitude here than in Western Europe. There’s a real virginity to things. The audience gives and it’s great.”

Still, the audience of a couple hundred people didn’t just give for nothing. Telepopmusic were alone in thinking their performance was bad. Their website describes the music as “nu-jazz, hip hop, electropop and even torch song.” It’s made not with samples, but with instruments. Perhaps it’s extra smooth as a result. The core of the group are Frenchmen Fabrice Dumont, Stephan Haeri and Christophe Hetier. They build the music around songs that featured vocalists write. For more information on their exact roles you can visit their website (it doesn’t add a lot of clarity though). Regardless, a year making their latest album Angel Milk has paid off. The different progressions, fast or slow, take you just where you want to go.

Telepopmusic has three different vocalists on Angel Milk: singers Angela McCluskey and Deborah Anderson, as well as rapper Mau. On Friday, Angela and Mau traded places every song or two.

The songs with Angela remind people of Billy Holiday. That’s going a bit far, but there is something to it. She has remarkable timing and great control of her voice. It’s very melodic with a little whine. This isn’t bad. It adds desperation to the songs. One fan came up to her after the show, and though he didn’t have the English to say all he wanted, exuded his feelings, simply saying “Your voice! Your voice!”

Mau has fast and slow raps. The slow ones are closer to spoken word. It’s a tough style because the rhythm is hard to maintain and harder to convey. At times he did it well, but it sounds better on CD. The faster raps, though, were filled energy that made the crowd bounce with excitement.

Both Mau and Angela had excellent stage presence during the songs, and they had fun bantering with the crowd. Angela danced to the music and did her best to speak some Russian. She brought the house down reading a phonetic version of some famous lines from the cartoon Bremenskiye Muzykanty (the crowd was shouting along and gave some of the loudest cheers of the night for it). Mau was more talkative explaining what the songs were about (loving crack, a love song for butterflies, monkeys with wings) and good at getting the audience going during the songs. He didn’t have to work too hard though. “I’d tell you to move closer, but you’re already here!”

The set started off with some laid back songs that only occasionally had a quick beat. About half way through the set things started to pick up, and it felt like a disco by the end. Especially strong was their hit “Breathe.” It was in a Mitsubishi commercial a few years back and a lot of people heard of them through it. (Its creation was actually a joke though, said Angela. Normally a non-smoker she was with the chain smoking Frenchies and singing “breathe” as a lark). Also remarkable was “Smile.” They actually did it twice because it was their favorite song. The second time was for the first encore. After the upbeat end of the set it had even more energy. Christophe said “there were about 4 songs we’d never played so well before” and that version of “Smile” was one of them.

The final evidence of how much fun everyone had was that they got the band to play another song after a three song encore. First encores are standard affairs, but the crowd wouldn’t leave and the band “broke the rules” to play one more. We could have done with ten more.

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