Charles Sangnoir is a musician and producer from Portugal, although based in Paris. He has written music for television, radio and cinema, and has played more than 500 concerts across cities like Lisbon, Oporto, Paris, London, Madrid or Vigo. As a producer, he has overseen the making of over 30 records. He has featured as a host pianist in 2 Portuguese tv shows for over 300+ episodes and dedicates himself as well to painting, gastronomy and the esoteric sciences. And he also plays some mean blues rock, so he’s an interesting guy!
‘Bunker‘ is Charles Sangnoir’s third solo album. The follow-up from ‘Charlie Plays the Blues‘ and ‘On Fire‘, it was recorded in Paris between confinements, using almost exclusively music instruments from the ’60s and 70’s, and it’s a deeper, more personal and intimate record, where rock n roll and blues mingle in a laid-back, refined fashion with traces of retro/psychedelia – and a subtle hint of chanson française, dontcha know! The PR blurb suggests this is one for fans of The Black Keys, Jack White, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and that’s not a bad guide – although I’m less sure about the Sabbath link, and it would have to be very early bluesy Zeppelin.
The album starts with Intro/Funky Foxes, the ‘intro’ being spoken Spanish but I did pick out “rock and roll”! The main track itself is very jazzy and retro, kinda sounds like a film soundtrack from the 60’s as the goodies chase after the baddies? But there’s a nice jazz-oriented guitar lick that forms the backbone of the song and the subsequent solos. Breakdown Stomp definitely takes us into Seven Nation Army territory, the riff being perilously close to plagiarism in these litigious times. But it’s an entertaining little number, you can’t keep your feet still to this one!
Me and The Devil is a classic slow, lurching fuzz-blues exercise with Fast Eddie Nelson on slide guitar; then Delivery Man is more pacey, still very bar-room blues, a nice tight, full band sound although Charles actually covers most of the percussion and all the keys. The other musicians participating are Clement Smadja and Paulo Bucho on drums; and Alix Loffler on bass guitars.
Paris/Lisboa is a slower, lanquid, number, with nicely understated keys and sonorous vocals. For me, the strongest track on the album and a nice video to boot (see below). Bunker Blues is pretty much standard blues, its okay but nothing special. Between the Fire and the Frying Pan is better, a decent heavy rock riff gets it going, another White Stripes-type number. A Good Boy is back into slow, bar-room territory, it’s nicely played but competition is fierce and widespread in this area….
Revelation is quite different, acoustic guitar work introducing a longish number by Charles’ standards at 5:12; After about 90 seconds I’m beginning to get a bit restless before “the rock band” takes over – that’s better! After a couple of bouts of acoustic v. band, the final minute or so is a really very good piece of lead guitar, and I do wonder whether Charles would be better going for a full-on rock album? The album closes as it started, Em Todas as Decomposições fading out with a Spanish spoken voice-over after an echoing ethereal bit of finger-picking.
So there you have it. A curate’s egg of an album, a few tasty bits, but several chunks of standard blues – you either love it or you don’t….Recorded, mixed and mastered at SFA Studio Stendhal, Paris, with Charles producing the album himself.