CELLULOIDE are the enigmatic synth trio from Marseille who have been a cult favourite with discerning electronic music enthusiasts since their formation in 2000.

Adopting mysterious pseudonyms, they are fronted by the feminine stereo vocal presence of Darkleti while on the left is Member U-0176 and to his right is the more conventionally named Patryck Holdwem. CELLULOIDE’s reputation was built in their Synthélabo via ‘Naive Heart’, their debut long player issued in 2002; it is now remastered and reissued for 2022 by French indie label BOREDOMproduct.

While CELLUIODE are now veterans of seven albums, it seems unusual to look back to see that their first body of work was lyrically lamenting the passage of time and fearing the future, as many young acts did back in the pioneering days of synth.

‘Naive Heart’ did as the album title suggested and there was an innocent bleepy charm about it that appealed with listeners who would have tired of grunge and indie but were buoyed by the promise of a new dawn, thanks to the new generation of song based electronic acts such as LADYTRON.

The catchy opening number ‘A Lie’ initiated CELLUIODE’s aural manifesto with buzzy percolating minimal synthpop and detached but wonderfully appealing European Female vocals.

‘Someone Like Me’ upped the tempo and the iciness and as octave shifting moods and primitive rhythm boxes provided the backbone, the dispassion conveyed proved to be incongruously emotive.

Ramping up the mood with a harder drive verging on Goth Italo, ‘Pretty Girl’ could be mistaken for an EMMON track today although the more nostalgic ‘Wounds Of Love’ made the most of a throbbing engine room as a string machine cut through, effectively enhanced by responsive Gore-like backing vocals by the male contingent of the trio.

The cold wave of ‘Blessed Charms’ proved to be wonderfully mechanical and simplistic thanks to its hypnotic bleeping motif while ‘Sixth Sense’ was an infectiously eerie concoction based around absorbing synth bass and strings… and yes, Bruce Willis was a ghost all along!! 👻

‘Seven & Forever’ made interesting use of a cooker alarm within its backing and as the Clarkean ‘Missing Words’ displayed crossover potential despite its Sci-Fi synthetic texturing, ‘In Contempt Of Common Sense’ partied like it was 1980 and went into Gallic FAD GADGET mode with a distorted male lead.

Rumbling on the triplets, ‘The Reed’ took on a more dramatic darkwave approach but the girly vocals maintained the wider sonic spectrum while ‘The Paradox Of The Mirror Girl’ came over like CLIENT and eerily would have been birthed around the same time as Client A and Client B were working on their debut. To close, ‘It Needed An End’ provided just that in its nonchalant resignation.

One of the joys of today’s more open online market for music consumption is the opportunity to hear lesser known works as new several decades on.

Having been an album originally released before social media was ever a thing, CELLULOIDE’s ‘Naive Heart’ is one of those records deservedly reset for discovery by an electronic pop audience that the internet already has in place.

‘Naive Heart’ has been reissued as a remastered vinyl LP, CD and download by BOREDOMproduct, available via https://celluloide.bandcamp.com/album/naive-heart



Text by Chi Ming Lai
10th November 2022