It must have been some time around the end of 2005 when I first heard the charming, childlike chime intro of Cirkus, the opening track on Readymade FC‘s one and only album Babilonia. The album followed early in the New Year, and of course I snapped it up as soon as I could.
Cirkus is truly charming – very simplistic and lovely, with a sweet lyric about growing up and a lot of chimes, acoustic guitars, and pads. It’s rare that you come across something like this, and for me it came completely out of the blue – thanks, I think, to Mark Radcliffe‘s show on BBC Radio 2.
I still don’t know very much about Jean-Philippe Verdin, the man behind Readymade FC. Four years earlier, after a series of one-off vinyl releases, he had put out a minimal electro album Bold as Readymade, and between 2009 and 2010 he seems to have recorded a few things under his own name and what’s either another pseudonym or a duo of which he was a member, Akzidenz Grotesk. Otherwise he appears to have kept himself largely to himself.
Anyway, the quality here really doesn’t let up. Bare Feet is another sweet childlike song, full of pads and ripples. Then Feist turns up to deliver the vocal on Snow Lion, which makes for a beautifully atmospheric and wintry piece. This is followed by Not, a silly, nonsensical, and ultimately yet again entirely pleasant song.
For Slide, Yael Naïm turns up to deliver a soft, lullaby-like vocal, and meanwhile the backing track turns decidedly trippy and electro, and the instrumental Simple Appareil which follows keeps entirely the same mood. If you look for complete albums, rather than collections of songs, you definitely have a lot to explore here.
One of the more interesting aspects is the use of music box chimes, sometimes in an innocent way, but at other times it can be truly haunting, as on A Fire in the Forest, with David Sylvian on vocals, and some brilliantly bizarre found sounds in the background. It’s an exploration of similar territory to Bold in a way, where Sylvian also appeared, on a song called Sugarfuel, but it fits perfectly here too.
A short instrumental, Cirkus Interlude, carries us through to the adorable Time Machine, a largely acoustic piece in which Verdin sings about his mother. Then, the one and only single from this album, The Only One, a lovely pad and chime-based piece with Yael Naïm appearing again to deliver the vocal.
There isn’t a lot left after this – the curiously named instrumental If So, What? follows, and then the slightly chaotic, harmonica-based The Last Time, and finally another instrumental, Didi. In the end, this is a sweet and simple album, which, while complete in its own right, does seem to be screaming out for a follow-up. Hopefully one day, it will come.
You can still find Babilonia on CD from places like this one.