list of reviews :
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With " Elephant Home ", Manuel Bienvenu has taken the artistic path first blazed by Brian Eno, midway between Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and Before And After Science, while avoiding becoming a poor imitation. Surrounded by his own musician friends (Jean-Michel Pirès on drums, Frédéric Cortial on guitar, Dominique Renard on trumpet and Guillaume Pain on the musical saw), Manuel Bienvenu plays several instruments, whether the acoustic piano, guitars, percussions, electric keyboards, drums or french horn ! When it comes to production, he handles single-handedly the sound engineering and editing ; Elephant Home is a work that just radiates of Manuel's patience and meticulousness, an object chiseled in its smallest details, with its many perspectives, emotional shades, hidden tracks, tangled up vocals ( a catbird and the cage ) and gimmicks that are wonderfully omnipresent. As if exposed under a soft light, Elephant Home is an engaging album, like that segment from Mécaniques cantiques read by its author, Stéphane Rosière, where music and words are repeated and coiled indefinitely, like the horizon between the sky and the earth. In the meantime, Manuel Bienvenu has gone and settled in Japan, exploring and recording new musics, but his Elephant Home is available on his website www.manuelbienvenu.com – and one can also find some rarities and instrumental versions, studio or live (mp3 format) on http://elm.songs.free.fr/ (erratum : http://more.songs.free.fr ) recorded with the new-yorker Elodie Ozanne, for the band ELM, (created 1997), where one can spot as guest stars Karen Mantler, Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt. Therefore we eagerly look for the pastel pop of ELM, including the album Sunny Scenics (telescopic-poplane, 2002) as well as The Newton Plum , composed and recorded by Benoît Burello under the name of Bed on wich Manuel Bienvenu actively participated (Ici d'ailleurs-Wagram, 2000). Franck Mallet
translation : thank you john
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liability webzine juillet 2004
The story of Manuel Bienvenu could be the one of any musician trying to live off his music. This jack of all musical trades, who now lives in Japan, had played for some times with Bed, having also recorded with him (the first self produced tape and « The Newton plum »). Together with Elodie Ozanne, he founded the band Elm, which led to the later release of two albums. Thanks to Popcornlab, he recorded in 2002 his first solo record « Elephant Home », that unfortunately, for lack of a distributor, is impossible to find at the moment, well almost... It's is really appalling that such an outstanding record be unable to find any real outlet in the conventional distribution circuits.
I say appalling because « Elephant Home » is both beautiful and touching. The time spent with ‘Bed' must have deeply influenced him, as well as his admiration for the work of Robert Wyatt. For this music seems to sail only on peaceful waters, it is restful and intimate. The neutral yet grave singing of Manuel is in perfect symbiosis with his elaborate melodies, which are of a rare intelligence. M. Bienvenu is one of those artists who has a real grasp of his own different musical influences and they serve him impeccably in his own creative process. One can't help but be pacified by this album, feeling « Elephant Home » does a world of good. The universe is a subtle place and that requires a larger dose thans usual of sensitivity. How could he have done differently ? When you set sail in the sea of ‘Bed', you can't help but be taken by its artistry. Don't think of M. Bienvenu as a follower. On the contrary, he brings out of his compositions a genuine identity and for that matter, a genuinely great album.Of course so, it would be a pity to let so much talent not burst out into broad daylight. This record, that is only available on M. Bienvenu's website deserves a far better lot. And it's yours to discover.
Fabien liability 22-07-2004
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translation : thank you john
derives.net october 2004
French multi-instrumentalist, Manuel Bienvenu starts in 1996 with the band Bed, that he will follow until the album ‘The Newton plum' (Ici d'ailleurs- 2001). In 1997, he creates the duo Elm with Elodie Ozanne. Two albums recorded till now.
In 2002, Manuel embarks on the recording of this record, helped by a bunch of musician friends, featuring Jean-Michel Pirès (Bed, Headphone, Bosco, the married monk, Yann Tiersen…). Since that, he found affinities with Japan, particularly playing with Tica and shares his days between Tokyo and Paris.
‘Elephant Home' is not your usual songwriting record. Although some atmospheres can remind of Bed, you will not find any atom of post-rock here. Manuel Bienvenu aims at something else. Everything here seems to follow a thin thread that a too-much of something could break, between jazzy & vaporous moods and progressive drifts. This record reminds me a lot of some musical adventures of John Greaves, the silkness of Brian Eno as a songwriter, or the spheres of nuance of Robert Wyatt. However, don't get mislead, Manuel Bienvenu makes the music of Manuel Bienvenu, honest and sincere, intact against winds and tides.
A soft record, demanding, sophisticated, of an extreme precision, with no false steps, all in nuances, that escapes its era to float in the fuzz of time. A record for sunday afternoons, when the time is suspended, and when you find yourself gathering around a cup of coffee or in the countryside, in the middle of a garden or rambling half deserted streets of a city after the closing time.
didier october 10th 2004
translation : thank you pierre-antoine groussard
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tastyfanzine may 2005
Manuel Bienvenu - Elephant Home (Popcorn Lab)
It's not often an album come through the door that completely stops you in your tracks and demands to be listened to, but this is the case with ‘Elephant Home'…well I say demands, more gently suggests it in a husky voice, but theme keep you there for the duration, as it feels like you are drifting in and out of consciousness.
I cannot begin to imagine the amount of different instruments played on this album, all over dubbed and weaved together to create probably the best soundtrack to a French movie never made.