Who is Virgile ?

La Rochelle, February 1986

My dear Epo,

It’s been a while, and I’ve been so busy with exams lately; but during a conversation with Colin ( not what you think about, we’re just elaborating plans to make him escape from Paris next year) he told me about your new addiction to “High Meanders”. It really pleased Virgile himself, he begins to understand all the interest there is to embark the youngest in our passion for music.
It must be said, he is a rather complicated character. But I know very few New Wave’s fans who are not, and it takes a certain amount of grudge to be really in the spirit. The fascinating elegy of this movement cannot accommodate with conventional good humor; but a little nonchalant cynicism will however find its place …

I think I’ve had to learn all this when I left my fishermen’s quarter to come and study in a city center High School. But curiously it was an asset, to know gruff guys; and scratch my fingers on bad guitars with buddies who wanted to play Joy Division. Without that I think I wouldn’t have been able to approach Virgile, and even less to forge the friendship that you know between us. Music is a great medium for guys like me to gently fuck the boys from the upscale neighborhoods (not as much as football but almost)

Virgile belongs to an excellent background, where I was very learnedly explained that he had his annoying mood from his mother’s neuroses, and he lost her a year after we got to know each other. But already before that, Virgile was kicking in the stretchers : for him it was out of the question to follow the royal road and to study medicine. He still conceded to his father a science baccalaureate which would allow him to access sound engineering. And of course, the fool that I was followed him in this adventure…

However, we often threw our equation sheets to listen to records. In 1983, The Sister of Mercy’s “Body Electric” had already been released, and it was the glorious time of “Alice”. We were quite intrigued by a band which started by creating his own label even before realizing its first LP; and by the time there were only singles from The Sisters Of Mercy. It was already a real universe though, carried by the production of John Ashton ( from the “Furs”) of course, but also highlighted by the lyrics like “ Pass the crystal, spread the tarots / In illusion comfort lies” that the voice of Andrew Eldritch makes emanate in meanders of smoke.

I have often seen Virgile sitting on his bed in astonishment when later he was listening to “First And Last And Always” , and it’s not hard for me to understand; it’s a mesmerizing album. We had talked about the tragic loss of his mum ( and maybe he’ll tell you himself about it) , but in these moments , only the catharsis of words, on a harsh guitar line “ Because the world is cruel / And promises are broken” ( Some Kind Of Stranger) could really help him. Emotions are kept inside , the voice is deep, and just the guitar weeps …

You have it now Epo, Virgile is the melancholic one among us ; and certainly the most inspired. I usually work at the bar on Friday evenings but my boss allows me to record “High Meanders” and I listen to it on Saturday morning while I’m taking my bath.
Not last time. It was a Friday off ; and I had the chance to have my bath by listening to “High Meanders” live … But he didn’t tell me that his former Londoner girlfriend , Sheeranee , had brought back precious recordings from the Southern Studio. And the end, oh, what a wonder … Promise, I didn’t think at all about using my toes to make soap bubbles anymore… (it is likely that the atmosphere of “High Meanders” is generally not suitable for it, but there even less)

You can’t imagine how much I’m happy that you discovered “Virus Meadow” at the same time; it really means you’re part of the great alchemy that makes us vibrate now. Tell me what you felt. Or write it, because we won’t see each other in February’s break. With dancer friends that I’ve known in High School, we decided to climb the Mont Blanc. I’m probably the least prepared of the bunch, but I’ll do my best to stay alive because I want to read your letter from Germany in March…

Meandrous hug and gothic kisses,
Alb

High Meanders

Pontaillac, January /February 1986

I should work on my solfege. But there’s “High Meanders” on the radio, like every Friday (late) evening.

Sometimes I hear Virgile’s voice in it; and I don’t know the girl, with that voice made hoarse with cigarette; that I love …
No need to count on me during these two hours; my answering machine is unavailable.
How I try to record, purists would laugh at me… I’ve got only my Walkman, and it’s already better than the old dinosaur Panasonic “block” straight out of the 70s.
The connections that I make are often hazardous, and it happens that on the tapes we find incongruous noises of the outside, a Colin’s fart (even if he denies), doors slamming and one time the flush…

But I want to keep it all so bad, as much as the magazines which pile up dangerously in the dust.

On this cold and endless winter, where sometimes electricity fails because of the storm, I still have my Walkman and the radio , like a friendly presence which reminds me of what I’m in love with.
It is the sound of these long nights where my questions about the life to come grow and accumulate.

From what I remember, “High Meanders” often started with Sisters of Mercy’s “Body and Soul” in an extended version that shaped blue ethereal forms floating over an unreal swamp of darkness.

L’Equerre, 1986


I knew that , far from the jubilation of sets with David and Alb; Virgile was a melancholic; and you could feel that when he made his programs alone; playlists took the beauty and the depth of his elegiac mood, and blew coldness on the flying time of those two hours.
It happened that however I could hear the others’ presence in what was played, Valentine’s cute temptation with “Under The Milky Way” ; Coquelicot’s fire in “Love Like Blood” and several times in the end , the call of Alb’s  desire for rejoicing in a burning version of “Duel” which sounded like a decadent climax after the silver flood of these romantic rivers.

But what fitted the most with the cold darkness of dawning February was this song that Virgile in the end of a broadcast announced. There I could feel all the beauty of his, in “Virus Meadow”

Just recorded, and stolen, only for you who listens to our bizarre volutes…

It is like, in Worcestershire,  the mossy humus of a fantastic forest, where the oldest poetry of England ferments and rise again.
Dark and deep roots crawling on grass and ferns, friends , you can barely see them in your candlelight ; but you can hear them whispering tales  of a temptation from another age

Suck enchanted nightshade twine

Hear the bells beneath us chime

… And also the trees…

This was “High Meanders” , listener my beloved
Have an inspiring night