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Donzelle - Parle Parle, Jase Jase

Parle Parle, Jase Jase
Sound Pouding - 2008

Michael Panontin
Taking her cue from the likes of Peaches and M.I.A., Montreal's Donzelle (real name Roxanne Arsenault) takes some hard-hitting electro beats and tethers them to some of the Quebec metropolis' well-known brash sexuality. Her pedigree is almost quintessentially modern-day Montreal - the trilingual half-Portuguese, half-Quebecois DJ has a radio show and works as a programming coordinator for a feminist, artist-run centre while finishing a Master's degree in public kitsch heritage ("?!?!?!" - Yeah, me too).

On her first album Parle Parle, Jase Jase, Donzelle's backfield is stacked with talent, with Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux (aka Cristo aka Sexychien aka Organ Mood) responsible for most of the music, and others like former Les Georges Leningrad screamer Poney P, Giselle Numba One (of now-defunct Hot Springs) and Peaches collaborator Gonzales (and many others) lending a beat or two. The sexual references - sometimes nakedly direct, sometimes clothed in metaphor - are for the most part in Quebecois-tinted French, though English and Portuguese also make brief appearances. Donzelle explained to Inpartmaint (who released Parle Parle... in Japan with two bonus tracks), "I also love really dirty rap, but it was mainly done by guys, and almost always in English. I wanted the sexy equivalent in French, in Montreal."

Most of Parle, Parle... is stock urban hip-hop, with a sultry Gallic edge, of course. 'Michel featuring J. Jones' checks Toni Basil's cheerleader ditty 'Mickey' to limited effect, while 'Kebeoke''s murky beat and subtle background phrasing heat things up a bit. But buried amidst all the formula is the amazing 'Libido Macro', which cranks up the cool quotient a notch or two with a pounding beat, sexy choreography and those emasculating whispers of "Zero, zero". The ladies even raise DIY to an art form with the video, showcasing much of Donzelle's grad "research" - and a bit of Donzelle herself - in the process. Whoa!


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