Radio called the video star
par Chris Yurkiw
dans Montreal Mirror, 10 avril 1997

James DiSalvio's hip pop collective Bran Van 3000 is let loose

Late afternoon, late last week, and a Mile End café has become the impromptu press office for James DiSalvio. Journalists and lattés come and go, members of his studio project-cum-band Bran Van 3000 wander in and out and a MusiquePlus crew is trying to drag everyone outside for some shaky street shots. But why all the flurry for a brand new band, whose honcho has never done music before and whose first album has not even hit stores yet? And why is DiSalvio, a filmmaker and star music video director in Quebec, now at the other end of the MusiquePlus camera? In the '80's, Jean Leloup was totally into to the idea of a kid who'd only done one clip for Captain Crunch and Let's Do Lunch, directing videos for him, and "Cookie" and "L'amour est sans pitié" soon followed. And it was Jean who encouraged James the fledgling DJ to mess around in the recording studio for the first time, the result of which was DiSalvio's dance remix/#1 hit of Leloup's "1990." The video prodigy seemed to have a knack for the audio, too, and soon enough DiSalvio was parlaying his wages from doing TV commercials in New York into a modest home studio.

And therein lies the key to all the excitement about the imminent release of Glee (Audiogram), the debut disc by DiSalvio and his "beautiful collective" Bran Van 3000. Glee is a highly original mix of the amateurish charm of indie rock and the beat-crazed spirit of the day.

Over the course of a year and a half, DiSalvio collaborated with both an inner circle of co-producers, co-writers and singers (including school buddy and techno-head E.P. Bergen, Haig Vartzbedian of RightWide Records, Shine Like Stars!, ex-Jah Cuttah guitarist Adam Chaki, Leloup, soul diva Stéphane Moraille and vocalists Sara Johnston and Jayne Hill) and a revolving cast of cameo players (Doughboy John Kastner, rapper Steve "Liquid" Hawley, Eval Manigat and Martha Wainwright, among others) to come up with Glee. "It was like shooting a lot of film and editing it down," says DiSalvio, "but the end result is a pop album--not trip or hip hop."

There's a Kiss sample here, a drum & bass riff there, but the guts of Glee are in songs like the lead-off single "Drinking in L.A.," in which DiSalvio's distorto rap is balanced by Moraille's soulfully sung chorus; or a revision of Slade's "Cum On Feel The Noize," as if the Hudson Brothers had handed over a version to the Chemical Brothers. Bran Van 3000 has congealed into a real band, so kicking it live is not far off. But for now, we'll have to be content with a landmark album of the '90s for Montreal.

Glee was released Tuesday, April 1

(Article original)

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