Underground used to have a functional and a stylistic meaning, and this unites the sonically disparate bands collected on IVG Vol.1: Futur Antérieur, France 75/85. eBay and Discogs archeology suggests that these French bands were never prolific and might be more famous now than they ever were when extant. Some of the groups were represented by a single 12" or a tape.
Nini Raviolette was one such, and their "Indicateur Ou Dragueur,” from 1980, is delightfully weird and synth-y. It turns out that French people singing is actually OK as long as one can conjure the models from Blow Up while listening, and in this case indeed one can. Stabat Stable’s "Prima Linea" avoids the whole problem by skipping the vox; it offers up out-of-tune artificial cellos and Freddie-esque iterated keyboard chords.
One thinks of the “Prior Future” as utopian (as opposed to the dystopian After Future, in which we mine the landfills), but while IVG has a touch of that Esquivel space-lounge vibe, it is both dark and fearful. Somewhere in the progression from the ’60s to the ’80s (I guess it must have been in the ’70s), the future went from being a refuge from the present to its extinguishment. Reaching back to New Wave feels a little scary, especially in this foreign incarnation that is as yet not walled off and made safe by associated personal memories. It conjures hypothetical Ian Curtis mental states, making us feel like we’re drowning in joy. Probably a good description of the ‘80s.
Nothing was ever this catchy, nor will be again. Ruth is the French Free Kitten, maybe, and a version of "Mon Pote" included here (Ruth has been subject to various other reissueings and is among the more famous acts on IVG) is worth the dance, maybe even a few French lessons so as to lip synch it into a hairbrush. This and some of the other rock tracks included beg for a live show and remind us that making a record used to be a big deal, that seeing a band play could be a first exposure and the whole point. Oh, to be then!