The story of Nuit à Jour, an album by Pierre Richard
Nuit à Jour is a music album by Pierre Richard released in November 2020. It only takes you a few seconds to recognize the familiar tone of a popular actor in a good way! For many years, Pierre Richard has accompanied several generations of viewers both in cinema and in the theater. And today we will discuss a beautiful object that can be described as a "poetic musical walk in the night mode" ...
The Nuit à Jour album first appears as an enigma. What is this unidentified musical object? And what could unite the eighty-year-old actor Pierre Richard, the great master of the pen Ingrid Astier and the underground electronic musician Jean-Baptiste Hanac in one project? This is what we would like to reveal...
The imperishable actor of the "Tall Blond" publishes an album in which he feverishly interprets excerpts from Ingrid Astier's "Little Praise of the Night" about the musical climate in chiaroscuro ... Music composer Jean-Baptiste Hanak spoke about the origin of this unexpected collaboration. In essence, this is a beautiful story of meetings and friendship, but also an amazing adventure that opens like a flower. First a book, then a show, and now an album and, basically, a tour... An amazing business ensemble, in the origin of which there is something incredible, like a script written for a fragile and cute "Tall Blond" actor with a black shoe! It all started in 2014: that’s when Ingrid Astier, the thriller writer, released the poetic essay A Little Praise of the Night… Four years ago, she befriended the two Hanak brothers, the open-minded electronic music duo Damage, to whom she offered to write two pages of this book. :
“Because this book is written in the form of an alphabet,” she told us, “I offer you a letter, the letter d, which stands for Damage. It was an extraordinary honor for this literary cameo…,” recalls musician Jean-Baptiste Hanak.
Very quickly, Ingrid Astier wanted to take the collaboration further, on stage, with music. Too shy to speak her poetry in public, she looks for someone to do it for her:
“One day she called me, she found someone,” Khanak says. “It is 13:00 and she tells me: you have an appointment at 18:00 with Pierre Richard. You have an hour to find something for the book launch tonight at Jacques Genin's chocolate factory.” I wasn't ready! Moreover, I had no idea that she had known Pierre Richard for over a decade!”
That same evening, as agreed, Jean-Baptiste arrived equipped with a guitar and an amplifier at the chocolate factory in the Rue de Turenne.
"Good Jean-Ba, what should we do?" - This is the first thing that Pierre Richard said to me with a book in his hand, like a child. I immediately reassured him: “Believe me, I will follow your intonations and your reading. You are the lighthouse keeper. Like the journalists voiced on TV, we understand from their intonation that this is the end of the topic, it's almost a song ... Just send me such small signals. They were survival instructions. For my part, I tried to develop at the level of sound something like a fairy-tale language ... At the end, Pierre said to me: “It was magnificent, it was like the song of whales. We'll have to start over!"
Only one on stage...
Together they give three or four guitar concerts. But in 2017, Ingrid Astier, "the sorceress without whom none of this would have happened," wants to take things to the next level again by presenting a real show adapted from her "Little Praise of the Night." Jean-Baptiste Hanach, whose older brother Frédéric was in a very bad condition at the time and died in the same year, chose to leave... Thus, Pierre Richard alone enters the stage of the Théâtre du Ronde Point with an adaptation by Gérald Garutti. To do this, the memory of the night and its romantic, poetic or ghostly charms Pierre Richard lives on texts and plays his score in a choreography of strange and graceful gestures. Over 50 performances is a real success.
Today, the actor finds his musical partner JB Hanaka and expands this poetic walk by releasing an album based on the same work under the watchful eye of Ingrid Astier. The visual aspect was cancelled, leaving only the voice of Pierre Richard. A beautiful voice, serious and deep, whose expressiveness elevates this game ... He savored her words, turns, syntax, phonetics and rhythm with glee.
“There is evidence in the night, drapery. I feel enveloped in it,” he begins. “I never liked noon and its harsh light. Like a TV that is day in the night, a blatant and obscene day. At night the perspective disappears. Pull down the curtain. End. No more horizon that mocks us. No more straining your eyes. At night, I can be myself without disturbing myself ... "
At the same time, the great actor is not content with just reading. He interprets the story with enthusiasm, muttering, whispering, blowing, making onomatopoeia, here imitating the surf, and there a cavalcade on horseback. Humor regularly intervenes in the intervals of this dark night, through the tone or reflections of Pierre Richard. It can be unsettling at times, such as when an actor screams like a madman, "Movie, movie!", at the unbridled closing title.
In the nude, the music creates an atmosphere of chiaroscuro. This is the perfect custom-made case. To embellish the night velvet, Jean-Baptiste Hanak works mainly on a six-string ("prepared guitar" with a bottleneck and an electronic bow), which he illuminates with echoes and electronic sound effects. The result, which surprised and amazed us on our first listening, is a hypnotic continuum at the periphery of the experiment. The loops we think we hear are false loops. Obsessed for twenty years with Steve Reich's "Electric Counterpoint" by Pat Metheny and the Kronos Quartet, Jean-Baptiste Hanak pioneered this method of working on several tracks.
“It's about playing the same thing in a loop all the time, gradually introducing a new note here and there. After all, the play has nothing to do with what it was in the beginning, without our awareness,” he explains.
Twilight and accentuated in the smallest detail, this musical cloak carefully avoids the pitfalls of depression, preferring a western, cosmic, trembling or magical atmosphere that fits our moon character like a glove...
The result is a crazy album, an absolutely unbelievably daring record that is sure to be as misunderstood as it is adored. In any case, this music album confirms that at the age of 86 you can save the soul and wonder of a child by trying the craziest adventures...
List of tracks
L'appel de la nuit
"Mise en veille"
L'armée des ombres
By the way: Pierre Richard's first attempt to turn to music took place in the mid-80s, when he released an album of the same name! As for “Nuit à Jour”, according to Hanak, “the goal was to give Pierre a chance to prove himself in the area in which he was lucky enough to declare himself ...” As Richard himself stated, he “received a huge the pleasure of working on the album!
“I told my body: be quiet, now my mouth is speaking ...”