Sunken Treasure: Yamasuki Singers’ Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki’

Thomas Bangalter created a briefly popular dance song called Yamasuki and from the reaction it garnered, decided to extend the idea to a full album


The success of Daft Punk is attributable not just to their distinctive way with beats and vocals but to their readily identifiable and precise aesthetic. Their career has been a lesson in how to combine sound with image. They do it so well. We have never seen their faces but we have a strong visual sense of who they are. They play the game so astutely that they have carved for themselves a spot where they can enjoy the best of both worlds. Bountiful fame with helmets on and complete anonymity with them removed. Result.

In Thomas Bangalter’s case, he didn’t lick it off the stone. In the early 1970s, his father, under the name Daniel Vangarde, devised a concept for a musical project which was strangely predictive of his son’s subsequent blueprint for fame. Vangarde had been pursuing a peripatetic route through popular music in late 1960s France. He skipped between projects and genres as writer, arranger and producer. He was fond of releasing all kinds of music and took the highly unusual step of inventing different monikers to fit each sound.

In 1971, with fellow composer Jean Kluger, he created a briefly popular dance song called Yamasuki and from the reaction it garnered, decided to extend the idea to a full album. The unerring execution of the concept is a joy in both musical and visual terms. There is a beautiful symmetry between the disparate elements. It's shamelessly fun but never trite or kitsch. All kinds of innovations make the music engaging. The sophisticated grooves that underpin the hypnotic chants are ahead of their time. The fatback drum beats are class. There is so much to enjoy.

The presentation is a work of art of its own accord. A series of instructions on how to do the Yamasuki dance adorn the cover. There's a beautiful strangeness at work. Clearly a highly inventive streak runs in the Bangalter blood.