"quatre" is his most fully realized work yet...
his voice has matured to a rich yet unprocessed instrument, his guitar playing is intricate, percussive and perfect for his songs...
i couldn't get them out of my head

dirty linen
tokyo, 1995

you wake up in the morning with that chorus revolving in your head: "intelligence is the fastest of all birds"
later, catching the news on the radio, the thought comes to your mind again: yes, man can make it, he has intelligence to put straight what is wrong
you sit down and tie your shoes, and another song comes to your head, the one with the shoes "made for someone else", and it makes you smile
and so goes the day, until you realise that somehow this album quatre has got a hold onto your life
the chord it strikes is a deep one, a place so hidden you thought no one could reach it; you feel a bit...unmasked
and you start wondering about the man behind it, gabriel yacoub
one night, i grabbed my telephone book and started calling right and left in search of his contacts
two days later, i finally got him on the phone
i was like a schoolgirl on a date
his voice was slightly bluesy, breaking softly, but at the same time it had a youthful vibrancy. a double edge
sober and reserved, and at the same time so penetrating
a feeling of his own

who could be this man with the arab | jewish name?
i had vague memories of his hits in the 1970's, when he created a commotion with a completely new trend: old european music with a fresh, rock and roll attitude
his group malicorne had the marvellous sounds of forgotten instruments, bagpipes, fruit-shaped mandolins; there were immortal songs of loss, written by troubadour of ancient ages; there were sad and vibrant harmonies
none of the kids who discover him today would know, but he made a double gold album in 1978 and many other hits, still selling today to his all-time fans
his work was original in many ways: because of the music, and also because he always remained the master of his production
he never sold out to any major, and proved that it is possible to have several gold records without being on television or on the radio

then at the top of his success with malicorne, he left the band to tour alone in small clubs
it is still the way he gets his inspiration
hotels, trains, airports, the caress of space, new york often his favorite
he became a regular feature of us university tours, canadian clubs and festivals
his brand of music had no name at the time, but it had the openness that would produce "world music" a few years later
harmonies from ancient macedonia, irish grooves, turkish instruments would mingle with french traditional styles into a dreamy, personal vision

although he hates the expression - who likes it? - his work was somehow the first "world music" in france

i opened the door to a puff of perfume
darkish clothes, slim and erect, gabriel had the elegance of some dark avenger in a cow-boy movie

while he answered my questions i watched his face: strong features, solid structure, but the expressions on it made a liquid dance
his smile was surprisingly sweet

he explained his exotic name to me: his father came from lebanon before his birth
gabriel himself was born in paris, and has always lived there

when he was 16, he dropped out of school, and started roaming about europe in a woody guthrie fashion, playing the guitar in the streets and surviving on contributions from passersby

at 18, he was hired by alan stivell, a singer-harpist from brittany, who launched the trend of musique bretonne in france, and became a pioneer of the french folk movement

gabriel was a regular band member, playing guitar, banjo, dulcimer and other instruments

"my parents never opposed my passion for music
this was great because they never really understood it, they are very simple people, my father was a printer
so for me things were easy
at 18 i was a professional musician, and at 20 i formed my own group malicorne... "

gabriel says his father apparently never understood his success except for the shock seeing him on a few television shows

but when one looks closely, one feels that success is an alien notion to the son as well

almost thirty years have elapsed since he released his first album, pierre de grenoble, recorded with marie [malicorne did not exist yet], thirty years of what the world would call "ups and downs", but gabriel certainly never viewed them this way

his first and original success with malicorne [12 albums amongst which 3 went gold, on small labels!] had opened his eyes to the vanity of it all
at 24, with a double gold album on the charts [almanach], he took a break to tour alone because "malicorne was becoming heavy, big money, big venues, a lot of equipment, and i was longing for smaller places, a more simple relationship with the audience..."

for those performances he created a different repertoire, which he recorded on a first all solo album [1978]

as the title humorously indicates, it mainly consists of traditional music
"i was so impressed by those traditional tunes, they sounded so wonderful to me... i would try to compose, then i would have the innocence, or the impudence, to compare my lyrics to the traditional ones - those songs from the oral tradition which have crossed centuries to reach us: all jewels, masterpieces! so i would tell myself, give up, you're not ready
until i stopped comparing..."

his first original songs were composed in 1982-83
at first, they were copies of traditional ones, sometimes using french archaisms. "i learned everything from there, and from rock and roll"

above all yacoub is a poet, although he is very slow at writing
he has to reach perfect lyrics before even thinking of the music
this is somewhat odd, considering he started out as a band musician, and seems generally fascinated with music history - he even wrote a book about traditional instruments!

the sound of these instruments is one of the original features in yacoub's music

when performing solo, he mostly uses guitar; but on record with his musicians he uses a number of different instruments
the strangest looking might be the vielle Ă  roue [hurdy gurdy]
the eerie sound of this instrument might appear to listeners as some weird synthesizer invention, but it comes from old european tradition as do the bagpipes: cornemuse, musette du centre, and musette de cour
the musette de cour is a tiny sophisticated bagpipe, often inlaid with gold, mother of pearl and ivory, that 18th century nobles used in their pastorals, when queens and duchesses used to play shepherdesses and delight with the scent of goat dung

amongst the numerous string instruments he plays, the mandocello is one of yacoub's favorites [the equivalent of the cello in the mandolin family]
also worth mentioning is the qanun, a middle-east hammered harp with a metallic but heavenly sound

"my experience with stivell was important to me: it was exciting to see so many things happening in brittany, and at the same time i was embarrassed to be singing in breton, welsh, in irish, or scottish gaelic, it was so artificial for me, i thought there must be something i could do with french songs!

but in the 1970's, there was not much happening on this side
some people had used french traditional music for reactionary political ends and therefore it became associated with the pétain [pro-nazi] regime for example

when i created malicorne, most people thought it was breton music, just because we used bagpipes
but bagpipes exist in all corners of france and the world! later i was associated with 'world music'
i find the word annoying: before it used to be called 'folklore', i don't know for what commercial purpose they invented this expression 'world music', which implies that it's everybody's music but ours! we are all someone else's 'world music'!
i don't like this compartmentalizing

the world is a very small family, there are words you find in all languages with no rational explanation, ancient modes, common instruments...ancient music is a trace of the times when all music was the same across europe

for me, the house of music is more like what we see in india, where classical and pop are not separated, they both stem from one source

look at medieval music: most of what was passed down to us was printed in the 17th century, but it comes from popular tradition: branles, gavottes, tunes that people could dance to
later on, people like gervaise started putting it down on paper, but the music went on traveling
you'll find one same tune in flanders, in england, and in france; traveling was hard at the time but people moved around a lot, and carried their instruments with them; this is why all european music has so much common ground...'"

gabriel has made his the open attitude that he believes to be the basis of traditional music
his influences are many

polyphonic singing does not come from mainland france - although you find it in corsica - gabriel has spent much time listening to bulgarian choirs

"i was completely fascinated! the funny thing about them is that they have been influenced by debussy...but i find something very close in the beatles' harmonies
those two voices, they make me shiver!"

except for some love songs, gabriel yacoub's lyrics deal mainly with spiritual questions, although gabriel reckons he is not a religious person - just fascinated with faith, people of faith, amazing deeds people of faith do

"i found myself writing so many songs that dealt with spiritual topics, i was surprised, spirituality is not my philosophical motivation
well, one does not decide everything, there are things that fall in place without your knowing the reason why..."

at least, he must confess his faith in humankind, as illustrated by one of his songs, le plus rapide des oiseaux
"this is a verse taken from the hindu veda: 'intelligence is the fastest of all birds.' i believe in human intelligence, i would rather say sense, common sense

when i went to lebanon when i was 17, it was a very moving experience, and this song is built on the memories of those emotions
the 'rap' in the middle of the song is actually spoken by my father
i do not speak arabic so i asked him to tell me what he meant; he answered 'you cannot say it in french!' so i asked elie achkar who played the qanun on the song, and elie said 'it is something about bringing peace when you come into a house, but the rest does not mean anything, he is using words that do not exist
i loved it that way!"

beauty, another of gabriel's songs is built on a navajo chant: "in my old age i want to walk down a path of beauty, a path of clarity"

old age and beauty
again this is a very rare association in western culture, and again a spiritual one
but the most troubling song is: "i am solid most of the time, hard as some blood mortar..." from there yacoub goes deep into one's inside caves and labyrinths, only lit by the "soft light of my spirits"

the arrangement is powerful, the backing vocals ecstatic: gabriel wrote it thinking of philosopher lacan, he says, but it could as well be a chant to all the "legends" that haunt him, a ritual without a religion, a faith without a god

like the sculptures, the "boxes" he makes when he finds the time, with a strange mix of symbols, tiny goddesses, rusted iron, pieces of displaced technology...

yacoub is also an artist who has done several exhibitions in europe. again, a silent tribute to the spirit with no name...

hélène lee - latino magazine
yacoub est un chanteur élégant, attaché aux principes de la musicalité
le monde
yacoub nous offre ici un disque subtil où il apparaît comme une sorte de peter gabriel hexagonal... cette série de morceaux relève de l’intelligence pure
l’événement du jeudi
jolie synthèse de tout ce que peut dire la chanson... une spiritualité qui se nourrit pas de grands mots flous, mais des images porteuses de rêves et ferveurs... mélodieux enlacements, harmonieuses rencontres d’où naissent des climats à la fois familiers et captivants... saveurs enchanteuses
sélection de l’année télérama

son dernier album quatre est l’un des plus réussis de l’ancien meneur de malicorne : chansons songeuses, rêves voyageurs, cromornes et synthés alliés avec bonheur. on se réjouit de retrouver l’enchanteur sur les planches
gabriel yacoub, c’est d’abord un timbre de voix immédiatement reconnaissable, une diction claire, et un goût profond pour les harmonies vocales... un interprète raffiné
le nouveau politis
ceux qui, en un autre temps ont apprécié malicorne, savent que yacoub et son combo étaient beaucoup plus que de simples folkeux ! aujourd’hui, entre racines et technologie, gabriel yacoub poursuit sa quête... en empruntant (discrètement) ses chemins de est pourtant captivant de croiser ce chant unique
Ă  suivre
... il garde le goût des formules de sagesse universelle... ses textes travaillés, où s’accumulent les images comme des galets polis par les ans, il les prononce avec un soin maniériste, amoureux de la musique ? elle vient ensuite, dans le sillage des mots, gonfle leur cours sans le détourner... sur scène c’est un délice
...des mélodies méticuleusement travaillées, des arrangements de toute finesse et des voix superbes
la république du centre
il faut à tout prix écouter ce nouvel album de gabriel yacoub, l’homme qui voyage en solo au pays de l’insolite avec un goût profond et unique pour les prouesses vocales enrobées de musiques à vous faire perdre la notion de temps
la dépêche du midi
album de réflexion musicale en phase de maturation intense, ce dernier gabriel yacoub n’a que des qualités
paname magazine
yacoub est l’un des nos monuments, mais un monument en marche et en perpétuelle évolution...
trad’ magazine
s’il écrit à la première personne, yacoub sait à merveille parler de l’homme et de l’espérance. quatre est un disque inclassable, une bouée de sauvetage dans la marée noire des blah blah et des boum boum qu’on nous propose quotidiennement
music annonce
attention, ce disque est un petit chef d’œuvre ! une suite de morceaux à l’intelligence rare, des rares perles azurées qui reflètent de leur éclat le talent de leur auteur gabriel yacoub. quatre démontre ainsi que des qualités de compositions propres aux grands créateurs... la musique de yacoub est un labyrinthe qui offre à chaque détour un nouveau paysage encore plus beau...imaginatif, intelligent et profondément essentiel
quatre est déjà un disque visionnaire, généreux, enraciné et novateur qui nous donne l’envie d’écouter gabriel yacoub sur scène vivant. il réalise un travail d’orfèvre à l’opposé des productions world aseptisées et récupérées
crystal news
gabriel yacoub, l’inventeur historique de la « world » française
quatre est un disque généreux, abondant, enrichissant, positif et d’une grande bonté sonore. un plaisir nomade, une quête auditive vers une certaine plénitude, une quiétude musicale
les dernières nouvelles d'alsace
bel album, belle pochette, que demander de plus ?
« l’âme de malicorne », a livré les secrets d’une œuvre originale alliant avec harmonie la musique traditionnelle française ou étrangère, à des influences plus rock...
la montagne
un mélange à la fois humble et savant qui sait puiser dans les sources pour mieux aller à l’avenir... une poésie d’espoir et de convivialité... toujours une chaleur jusqu’au fond de la voix et du regard
ouest france
gabriel yacoub a su trouver une voie originale, éclairée par ses qualités de musicien et de compositeur... le répertoire de gabriel yacoub prend son envol sur scène, où ses concerts ressemblent à des promenades enchanteresses, entrecoupées d’introductions rivalisant d’humour et de finesse... une personnalité à part dans le paysage musical français
le midi libre
gabriel yacoub, dont la très jolie beauté des textes pétris de poésie, les mélodies à fleur de peau et le climat raffiné des compositions parent cet opus de bien d’autres autours
le disque de la semaine

parmi ces 14 titres on trouve une version très personnelle de la chanson de jacques brel, regarde bien petit, qui semble avoir été écrite pour lui. mais l’ensemble des chansons démontre les talents de yacoub comme compositeur et arrangeur
global music pulse

les chansons de gabriel yacoub ont un angle primitif qui rendent justice à leur auteur : message habile et humaniste, pudeur décontractée et musique émotive. gabriel yacoub est sorti du folk pour rentrer dans la chanson française qui sait dire les choses avec élégance tout en gardant un sens de l’esthétisme tourné vers les racines
le maine libre
gabriel yacoub... le dylan français

nachdem die erste und dritte soloplatte akustisch und die zweite ["elementary level of faith"] elektronisch geprägt waren, ist nummer vier ein bandprojekt
yacoub arbeitet hier wieder mit einer festen band zusammen, die inzwischen länger besteht als malicorne
von der instrumentierung nähert yacoub sich dem sound von malicorne an
einige musiker vom vorgängeralbum und auch ex-kollegen von malicorne begleiten ihn hier
so gibt es neben altertümlichen instrumenten wie drehleier, krummhorn und dudelsack auch synthesizer, e-gitarren und rockschlagzeug zu hören
musikalisch geht er ĂĽber den rahmen malicornes hinaus
der folk frankreichs ist nicht mehr so ausgeprägt, dafür erweitert er seine musik mit arabischen elementen [seine eltern stammen aus dem libanon], fügt rockige figuren, indianische oder mainstream-melodien ein
diese ganze mixtur wird aber von seiner warmen stimme zusammengehalten
ich kenne wenige männerstimmen, die mich so gefangen nehmen
dazu kommt der von malicorne bekannte satz- und chorgesang
auch fĂĽr klassische anleihen aus streichquartetts ist er sich nicht zu schade
bestes beispiel fĂĽr diesen stil ist "le plus rapide des oiseaux"
mit arabischen stimmen tief im hintergrund und harfenähnlichen arpeggios beginnt der titel, klassische klavierpassagen untermalen das ganze, und moderne percussionrhythmen beginnen zu pulsieren
dann ertönt ein 'gabrielscher' gitarrenakkord und yacoub singt auf seine unnachahmlich-getragene art die strophen
der refrain ist hymnisch-bombastisch in bester peter gabriel-manier, allerdings zusätzlich mit folkflöten neben steicherklängen und arabischen zitaten
andere titel sind ruhiger, nicht ganz so detailreich arrangiert, aber im aufbau ähnlich
dazu kommen wenige, aber schöne folkstücke, wie der instrumental "la mariole", das hauptsächlich aus vielen schichten diverser dudelsäcke besteht, oder akustische gitarrentitel
aber auch hier gibt es genĂĽgend ĂĽberraschungen in den arrangements
"regarde bien petit" ist ein kraftvoller moderner chanson mit leichten ähnlichkeiten zu gabriel
insgesamt enthält die cd vierzehn kleinodien, wie ich sie aus dem folkrockbereich selten gehört habe
sie ist etwas eingängiger als die beiden klassischen malicorne-rock-lps, dafür aber mit deutlich mehr bandbreite, was den sound und die melodien angeht
wer ein faible für folkrock mit starken ethnoeinflüssen hat, wer anklänge von peter gabriel oder britischen singer/songwritern mag, sollte dem herrn yacoub mal ein ohr schenken

andreas pläschke - babyblaue
retour album