Jean-Claude Vannier

La bête noire/Paris n’existe pas

Finders Keepers




From deep in the vaults of the Parisian composer who arguably created the stylistic blueprint for decades of orchestral French funk and symphonic psychedelia, “the arranger’s arranger” Jean-Claude Vannier (Histoire de Melody Nelson/L’enfant assassin des mouches) finally liberates two previously unreleased and fabled film soundtracks that mark significant milestones in the career of this legendary composer and his close connection to the French free jazz scene. Comprised on this one vinyl disc you will find the only existing original historic recordings to his first ever 1968 collaboration with serge Gainsbourg as well as the entire lost musical score for Vannier’s first major star-studded solo film commission which followed the Gainsbourg years and a fruitful decade as one of France’s most in-demand arrangers and songwriters. These two scores, for Vannier’s oft type-cast commissions for “drugsploitation” dramas (Cannabis, La horse), are further united by their inclusion of sax player Philippe Maté and the early formation of Vannier’s own Insolitudes ensemble. As long-time custodians Finders Keepers Records are proud to present both the hallucinogenic orchestral music to Robert Benayoun’s Paris n’existe pas and the rhythmic onslaught and cyclic waltzes from Patrick Chaput’s La bête noire complete with an extensive booklet of essays, interviews, secrets and rare images from both of these mythical cinematic obscurities.


From the furious pen of controversial author Jean-Pierre Bastid (Let The Corpses Tan/Massacre Of Pleasure) and directed by one-time realisateur Patrick Chaput the gritty street crime thriller precedes the likes of La haine. Revealing itself to be one of Jean-Claude Vannier’s most unique scores these previously unreleased studio master tapes capture self-styled batucadas and furious rhythm tracks next to frenzied carousel waltzes free from the stylistic time-stamp of their 1983 recording date. Having spent four decades trapped in muddy memories (and condemned to the phantom zone of a run of ultra-rare VHS cassettes) these experimental recordings remain independent from the pop and rock idiom and are both timeless as well as ground-breaking due to the deployment of key players from the French free jazz scene and the reunion of Vannier’s long standing Insolitudes (a unit that to some degree bears comparison to that of Ennio Morricone’s Gruppo D’Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza). Showcasing a crack team of Palm/Futura/Actuel/Saravah label regulars such as saxophonist Philippe Maté (Acting Trio/Maté-Vallancien/Tacet) alongside drummer Bernard Lubat (Mad Ducks), legendary Arpadys/Voyage rhythm masters Marc Chantereau and Pierre-Alain Dahan (La Horse/Brutus Drums) and session legend Michel Zanlonghi (Ensemble De Percussion De Paris) this thunderous, tumultuous, four-headed rhythm hydra bridges an authentic gap between The Jef Gilson Group and France’s signature “cosmic” revolution. Naturally these previously unheard compositions, rhythms and sound design experiments are spearheaded by lead pianist and composer Vannier providing devotees of his 1972 concept album L’enfant assassin des mouches with much to admire and cross-reference.


Previously the subject of biographical rock history, archival documentaries and cruel bootlegging opportunity, the official mastertapes to Jean-Claude Vannier’s first ever studio date with Serge Gainsbourg poetically mirrors the title of the film… They didn’t exist, until now. Culled from reference recordings, rehearsals, playback tapes and work-in-progress TV magazine features, all found in the darkest corners of Vannier’s tightly guarded sound library, Finders Keepers in close collaboration with Jean-Claude finally presents the genuine hallucinogenic orchestral and experimental sound design recordings that appeared on the 1968 film Paris n’existe pas. The darker experimental tones within the film’s (overly) cautionary tale (complete with ghost story eeriness) would require a future-proofed soundtrack to span the plot’s apparitional time-shifts. The brooding orchestrations and experimental music found on this record comes complete with interjections of modern jazz courtesy of French free jazz mainstays Philippe Maté (Jef Gilson/Acting Trio) and Jean-Louis Chautemps (Jef Gilson Group/Janko Nilovic’s Giant). With the help of an esteemed string ensemble Vannier also lays down an early orchestral blueprint for his own “approximately-Orient” signature sound in its earliest naked form just three years before Histoire de Melody Nelson would cause widespread controversy on its release. Complete with well documented forays into sound design as a young Jean Claude and Serge “explore” the carcass of a piano with screwdrivers and cigarette lighters this album captures the exact “eureka” moment that cemented this seminal partnership thus forcing an important kink in the natural course of European music for decades to come.

* Download code only available with purchases through the Finders Keepers website


  1. La bête noire (Intro)
  2. Chasser la bête noire
  3. Histoire de Daniel
  4. The Black Beast (Effets Cords)
  5. Rythme de la bête noire
  6. Danse de la bête noire
  7. Le dealer
  8. Karen/Antonia
  9. The Black Beast 2 (Effets Cords)
  10. The Writer/Yves
  11. Chasser bête noire (Revenir)
  12. The Juvenile Judge
  13. La bête noire (Generique)
  14. Paris n’existe pas (Opening Titles)
  15. Angela en ambré
  16. Télékinésie en turquoise
  17. Simon Slips
  18. La chambre rose
  19. Fantôme félicienne
  20. Le feu
  21. La tête
  22. Les chemins n’existent pas
  23. Fantôme soirée
  24. Le temps passe
  25. Flipbook
  26. Fantôme soiree (Outtake)
  27. Flipbook (Outtake)