Justine + The Victorian Punks - Still You (Digital)

Justine + The Victorian Punks - Still You (Digital)

Born in Tunisia, raised in France, based in New York City, the artist Colette has worked in various media--film, photography, paint and performance--but her greatest conceptual piece is her own life. Over the past four decades she has lived out a narrative of her own creation, one in which she has assumed various personas, guises and identities. Her first rebirth happened in 1978, when she pronounced herself dead, held her funeral at the Mudd Club, and was resurrected as Justine. Working with avant-garde pop pioneer Peter Gordon and his Love of Life Orchestra under the nom de plume Justine and the Victorian Punks, she recorded the "Beautiful Dreamer / Still You" 12-inch and dubbed the music "disco-punk." While the term seemed contradictory at the time, it serves in hindsight as proof of Colette's and Gordon's rightful place within the future-gazing avant-garde. 

"Beautiful Dreamer," the soundtrack for the installation series of the same name, opens with the soft lullaby of a music box, and transforms into a mid-tempo disco beat beneath Colette's doe-eyed utterances. Gordon's arrangement progressively heightens the track's intensity, culminating in his wailing saxophone juxtaposed against a lilting choral backing provided by vocalist Shelley Hirsch. Flipside "Still You" is a romanticized cover version of Lucio Battisti's "Ancora Tu." Front-and-center here are Colette's spoken word vocals, first in conversation with Gordon portraying a male lover and, later, dewily repeating, "Leaving you is just... impossible." The single, with its seductive bassline, fully encapsulates the sultry feeling of what might be described as "night music." 

Engineered by Jay Burnett, who would go on to record Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force's seminal proto-hip-hop classic "Planet Rock," these two songs were, incredibly, recorded in a single night at Electric Lady Studios. Some 30-odd years after their original release, they sound as compelling and entrancing as ever. Colette and Gordon, then as now, continue to make art ahead of its time.