Bidi - Dans Ma Bulle(2020)
Bidi released his debut EP on the 2nd of December, 2020, after 6 years in the making. The EP contains elements of rock 'n roll, such as distorted power-chord riffs on the guitar, electronic sounds establishing a mysterious atmosphere, prog metal runs, a 10-person vocal orchestra, and even orchestral or big band parts. The multi-faceted nature of such a record makes it hard to classify it as part of a single genre. His influences range from Dream Theater to alt rock band Nothing But Thieves. Apart from his obvious love of genre-bending, the EP's main theme seems to be contemporary experimentation. For "cause perdue," an emotional rollercoaster of a song that talks about rejection by a loved one, Bidi layered his interviews with people on top of the bridge of the song in order to augment the melancholic atmosphere. There is also a similar layering in "c'est un depart," this time with real conversions from space missions since the song is about a space adventure. Oh, talking about space, the lyrics are very... unconventional. The 3rd track, "le gecko," is about a gecko's love life, while 2 tracks later tears roll down our cheeks because of the forlorn content of the lyrics. The EP, from start to finish, is full of surprises and small details that Bidi seems to have poured his years into.
bidi teams up with Richard Lafleur (Clara and the Sky, Revelator) who, on top of playing the bass and guitar tracks, recorded, arranged, and mixed the album.
Click the link below to learn more about bidi!
1. C'est un Départ (7:11)
When you listen to an emerging artist but think that you're listening to an underrated song by a well-known band, it's certain that the album you're listening to has been crafted very professionally, and that the artist was able to produce a song of high quality. Dans ma Bulle's first song "C'est un Départ" is an example of this high-quality production. The song starts off with a 40-second intro that prepares the audience for the general concept of the album, and right after the intro, the keyboard enters along with the vocals, performed by Bidi. At first, the keyboard is alone with the vocals until suddenly the drum beat and electric guitar riff appear and take the spotlight: this kind of sudden entrance resembles the sound of Porcupine Tree, who was a big inspiration for the artist. Many try this style though it's very hard to manage the transitions without sounding too sudden, but Bidi does a successful job in layering and making it all sound put-together. The lyrics are also important to note here, as the album revolves around a story that is quite creative. The "départ" is actually about mankind leaving the Earth in order to find a more habitable planet. Bidi tries tackling issues that are both internal and societal throughout the album, which adds to the originality of his songs. Actual conversations from NASA, the distortions in the vocals, and the layering of sounds all add to the atmosphere of the song in various ways. Perhaps what makes this song so strong is the instruments in the spotlight, namely the keyboard and electric guitar. Especially the guitar solo at the 4:20 minute mark, which starts off with the same melody as the keyboard but then adds on to it, is one part of the song that shows off the skills of the artist. Overall, "C'est un Départ" is definitely a strong start for the album which continues to show the creativity and professionality of the artist while also telling an original story crafted by Bidi himself.
2. Dans ma bulle (5:24)
The title track of the EP, "Dans ma bulle", brings a surprising change to the album's sound. It starts out with a beautiful and mystic flamenco solo that somehow fits the otherwise dark sound. The backing of this solo makes me visualize a middle eastern scene as opposed to the obvious Spanish influence. Perhaps this is because of the swinging percussion and the impeccable swell of a Ney-like instrument.
While this might not be immediately obvious, the song is about a marijuana trip and the resulting retreat to one's own bubble. The title of the song and the EP is translated as "in my bubble," as a reference to this theme.
After the intro, the song progresses from a hard rock riff with raunchy vocals into a classic Bidi chorus. The chorus is interesting to listen to harmonically, especially the trailing subdominants. However, the most interesting thing about "Dans ma bulle" is the structure and how it relates to the subject at hand. At the 2:30 mark, the intro backing returns. On top of the backing, instead of the flamenco guitar, enters different sounds like a thunderclap and a weird bursty guitar riff panned randomly to achieve the effect of a bad trip. The verse returns after this 20-second break but stops again at 3:35. Honestly, I have no idea how they achieve the sound they did here, and the chorus enters suddenly after 5 seconds. At 4:26, a similar break occurs again, starting with the sound of a glass breaking followed by heartbeats and deep breaths. The first 2 minutes of the song flows so easily, while the later minutes include erratic ups and downs. I wish the song was less rock-oriented and more focused on enhancing this effect. though Accompanying this are my favorite 2 lines:
Peut-être qu'un jour j'irai te rejoindre dans le volcan de ton désir Mais pour l'instant je veux atteindre le nirvana dans un soupir Maybe one day I will join you in the volcano of your desire But for now, I want to reach nirvana in a sigh
There is heartbreaking helplessness expressed in these lines. Bidi has a desire to get out in the world and be with his lover, yet his lost hope makes him retreat into a bubble and seek for happiness in his sighs of marijuana.
3.Le gecko (05:06)
The third track, along with its amusing video clip, is about a gecko "that sleeps during the day, lives at night". Geckos are a kind of nocturnal lizards known for their wide feet. A weird topic to base a song around indeed, but it is kind of a motif on the album for Bidi to pursue a more experimental lyricism.
Along with the clip, the song reminds the listener of Radiohead's "Man of War". The interchanging clips of Bidi and the animated gecko can mean for us to think of them as one and the same, a foreshadow to later on in the clip. The song starts with a short electronic intro, almost like setting the stage up for the story that will unfold before us. The section that follows is highlighted by the guitar and its tremolo effect. Using distorted effects on the guitar is being utilized in other sections of the song too, which might be a reference to the grim and harsh lifestyle of the gecko, depicted with the lyrics:
a wanderer, without an aim slowly crawling into infinity and he waits... and he waits... he waits for the day to die he waits for the night to live
Combining with the nature of French pronunciation, Bidi's harsh vocals, with extended notes at the end of the phrases, create an acrimonious tone while narrating the story. But other than the vocals, the song features sections for all the instruments to shine (again referenced in the clip with the whole band playing with Bidi).
Of course, the song is not just about a gecko and his life. It was probably intended as a symbol. Although the song itself is very pessimistic about it, our own research showed us that geckos usually symbolize rebirth and the cyclical nature of life. By likening his situation to that of a gecko, Bidi is probably signaling a similar rebirth in all of our lives. Although we might feel down and adopt a lifestyle similar to that of a gecko, there is always a chance of rebirth. At least we hope so :)
4. Dualité (04:54)
This is the shortest track on the album, but like all the others, you can write the longest essay about the subject at hand. This time, Bidi tackles the issue of duality, specifically through rather the hypocrisy of mankind and the "conflict between good and evil" as he puts it.
Opening with Bidi's vocals alone, it becomes clear that the song is going to be personal from the beginning. This is further supported by the first-person narrative of the lyrics (with the repetition of "I" throughout the song). It's important to note the atmosphere he creates around the vocals to increase the tension, a technique which Steven Wilson is also praised for. The slow addition of each layer creates a dramatic transition to the chorus. It is astonishing to see Bidi use influences from different genres to add small details (props to the production) which makes the whole song feel more refined.
The sudden transitions throughout the song can be interpreted as the contradictions, which he talks about in the lyrics; yet the listener is left expecting him to express this duality from a more musical perspective. This could be achieved by panning certain instruments to far-right and left, or duet passages where two instruments try to outshine each other, symbolizing the two sides. The notion of duality might be seen as a rather worn-out topic (un clichè, excusez mon français) for songwriting but Bidi gives me enough reason to believe that new talents such as himself can redefine old subjects to give them a novel meaning.
The whole song can be seen as an embodiment of the literary technique, antithesis. Almost all lines spawn a contrasting image in the listener's mind, and this must also be true for the narrator. He is torn apart by this inner conflict and doesn't even know what to feel anymore (an emotional numbness as Bidi himself sees it). Especially in these trying times, these lyrics feel as relatable as it is expressive:
Je pleure et je ris Je hurle et gémis Je souffre et je jouis I cry and I laugh I scream and moan I suffer and I enjoy
5. Cause perdue (06:35)
Like all the other tracks of the EP, the final song "Cause perdue" grabs your attention the instant you hear all the layers of keyboards, different percussions, and guitars at once. Percussive keyboard layers are extremely powerful, and they are a fundamental part of the song, where he creates a coherent flow in the atmosphere from the beginning to the end. When the vocals kick-in on top of the electric piano and slow-burn drum groove, you can hear the different note and chord selections to create a melancholic yet strange composition. One of the best abilities of Bidi as a songwriter is that he knows when to add an instrument and pull it away to evoke different emotions with a strong sense of dynamics. Although the acapella-ish approach and cynical french singing create so much authenticity, the song still has lots of room to grow on the vocal production side. Song gets even more exciting when a lead synthesizer plays the melody after the chorus section—perfectly fits with the soundscape and makes the song feel complete. After hearing the tasteful heavy layers of bass and background slide-guitar action, the song ends as all the instruments come together to create a celebrative outro filled with back vocals, samba-ish percussions, and most importantly some brass additions that surprises the listeners and makes us admire the creativity even more. Although not traditionally innovative, the creative EP final track perfectly carries the emotions of the cycle of rejection/loneliness/flowing/healing the best way that could be done. While the lyrics tell the story of this process, Bidi interviewed 4 women on the topic and mixed/altered the voices to create the bridge. All in all, the track is a perfect example of the art of making a closing track that makes you listen and discover the song and EP again and again.