Zach Phillips and Ma Clément met by happenstance in Belgium in 2018; Ma had studied nursing and was called by a friend to examine Phillips, an American who had accidentally knocked himself out with a whack to the head. He was okay, but they became friends and collaborators as jazzy duo Fievel is Glauque. Having released God’s Trashmen Sent to Right the Mess, a compilation of low-fi DIY recordings, in 2021, they’re now back with their proper debut studio album which Phillips and Clément recorded as part of a septet. Flaming Swords is a stylish mix of tropicalia, jazz, ’70s laid-back grooves, skronky prog, movie samples and just a little punk, almost entirely played as tight little two-minute vignettes. Listen below.
We asked Phillips and Clément to tell us more about the album and they each gave us a list of five influences, complete with commentary, which include songs, food and lots of books. Read below.
Fievel is Glauque just wrapped up a tour with Stereolab.
FIEVEL IS GLAUQUE – INFLUENCES BEHIND ‘FLAMING SWORDS’
1. I remember listening to the intro of the song “Drunk In Love (Official Instrumental)” by Beyoncé while I was biking, on my way to a writing session with Zach.
2. I remember hearing for the first time the album “Music As A Second Language” by Paul DeMarinis recorded on a cassette my friend sent to me.
3. I remember the burn in my hand when I went to the Sonian Forest to pick nettles for a risotto.
4. I remember eating a kimchi stew for the first time.
5. I remember discovering the writing of Annie Ernaux, starting with the novel “Mémoire de fille” (A Girl’s Story).
6. Michel de M’Uzan “Permanent Disquiet”
This collection opens with a chapter called “Artists and Their Hell,” a volley of highly topical material for all those who find a fragile vocation in fruitfully plumbing fruitlessness. I encountered de M’Uzan via his analytic relationship to the writer Marie Cardinal (“The Words to Say It”) and read this entire book on some phone app’s free trial in a series of baths during the depressive, Belgian-government-restricted pandemic months when Ma and I were writing “Flaming Swords.” Before training as an analyst, the young de M’Uzan (once a buddy of Artaud, he lived to be quite ancient, with 6 years on Balthus even!) was committed to writing fiction. This depth of experience renders him a highly trustworthy and appropriately elliptical commentator on the psychodynamic processes of production often termed art.
7. Marie Redonnet “Nevermore”
No one jams quite as econo as Redonnet; she’d tongue-tie Hamsun. You’ll just have to enter her world to understand how tonic this skeletal action prose feels against the heady tides of journalistic slop and ponderous literary stupor that bend language to their carnival wills and do assail one. All her novels grant as strong a sense of space and place as, say, Sanjuro; they feel like sets. Simenon’s editorial injunction was to crimp already stark prose of adjectives but Redonnet eschews more than that: characters are on external view in her laboratory; dialogue is reported from a dispassionate above instead of inhabited; silence pervades these books as powerfully as in Sluizer’s The Vanishing. Meanwhile, they’re extremely fun, especially “Nevermore.” Brussels-bath me tried reading her newer work in the original French but I’m not nearly advanced enough to feel the tone that addicts me.
8. Steven Zultanski “Relief”
Steve recently lost a lot of unpublished work in a computer accident, as did the heroic musician Ben Reed. Often embarrassing, publication itself is vindicated by these losses taken by both with the stupid grace of those who don’t know how much I crave to fog my mind with their latest effort-dust. This latest tome diverts Steve’s ample flow every which surprising way. It is only one aspect of his commendable perversion that leads him to call these “poems,” and this too they survive with a perfect composure that was a real pleasure to do bathness with. It is rare indeed to search and find formal novelty so readily without fetishizing it as an end or proceduralizing it as a means; Steve’s sexy appetite for said is even more attractive than his delivery, and I share it.
9. Sonallah Ibrahim “Zaat”
A forthright, form-breaking, loving Egyptian novel by one of my favorite writers ever, whose freshly translated “Ice” I bath-read in Bruss-Bruss. Revisiting it now in my head, I’m reminded of Alexander Kluge’s Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave. It would hamfistedly sabotage this amazing book to hammer its scope down to its political resonance, which is considerable. Making life fit into writing is not possible, but thankfully miracles abound.
10. Emmanuel Bove “a Man Who Knows”
The title has since been eclipsed for me by Cities Aviv’s “Man Plays the Horn” and I’m not altogether certain I’m thinking of this book or Bove’s “a Singular Man.” I bathed with both in gray BXL. Both are incredible, one destroyed me. Very, very, very wrinkled toes.