Bounjour de Paris!
The Life in the Vinyl Lane crew is headed to Reykjavik for next week’s Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, our seventh consecutive year attending. Since it’s such a long trip to begin with, we figured we’d take advantage of the fact that we were already basically going to be in Europe (though to be fair, Iceland hardly feels like Europe… it just feels like Iceland) and tacked on a few days in Paris on the way. So after a quick 45 minute layover in Reykjavik, which was just enough time to pick up a box of the magical elixir called kókómjólk that is so good that it must be made by elves and sprinkled with fairy dust, we continued on our way to France. And since I’m me I made it a point of hitting up a few record shops while we’re here. Vinyl culture is alive and well in the City of Lights.
16 Rue des Taillandiers
The techno scene is kickin’ in Paris. Not only is it being played all over town in various stores and restaurants, but the city also boasts a number of techno-only specialty record stores. The first we visited was Techno Import, which offered both vinyl and a full line of seemingly very nice DJ equipment – pretty much everything you need to host your own underground party, other than the glow sticks. Not only that, but instead of a normal record store listening station, they had some dual-turnbable/mixer set-ups so you could see how a pair of records would mix. The entire time we were there a woman was flat out grooving to whatever she had spinning on the wheels of steel, and she looked pretty happy about it. The selection appears to be super deep and broken out by various sub genres.
I don’t know much about techno and its various sub (and sub-sub-sub) genres, but I know that in general I like it, so I picked up a few random things including a newly released 12″ from what I believe is a French “group” called Prospector, a double album by Eduardo de la Calle called The Intellinet Prophecy, and, believe it or not, a picture disc with an outline of Iceland on it called, appropriately, Iceland. Certainly the Icelandic imagery is what initially caught my attention, but what fully sold me was seeing that the B side included a Gusgus remix of this Marc Romboy original. Sold. Techno Import is a winner.
4-6 Rue des Taillandiers
Just a few blocks up the street from Techno Import is Syncrophone, another shop specializing in techno. A bit of a smaller shop, but packed full of cool stuff including two display walls. They had multiple listening stations, though I don’t think they had a full DJ set-up like Techno Import did. I tried to stick with some local French stuff, so with that in mind I picked out a double-comp by Pont Neuf Records entitled Habemus Paname as well as comp of 1980s synth dreaminess called French Synth Lovers #2. I also added a copy of Acid Arab’s Djazirat el Maghreb because our friend Matt recently saw them at a festival in Poland and had some positive things to say. Overall two thumbs up. Unless you don’t like techno, in which case you’ll be able to save your Euros for our next stop…
20-22 Rue Gerbier
Back in 2013 Buzzfeed posted a list that got the vinyl community all excited not-so-concisely entitled “27 Breathtaking Record Stores You Have To Shop At Before You Die.” Now, I have no idea how contributor Maria Sherman came up with this list, but it certainly got people talking. That being said, prior to this trip I’d made it to seven of the 27 (we looked for Elastic Witch on our recent trip to Dublin, but I think it’s no longer open) and found most of them to be really good shops – nice, well organized indie record stores. Yesterday I was able to mark an eighth store off the list when we stopped by Souffle Continu, a modest sized shop with a fairly broad and interesting selection of vinyl. Because I need to save ample room in my record back for the riches that await me in Reykjavik, I didn’t want to go crazy here, but I did find a cool French industrial 10″ by Muckrackers called Muckrackers Versus La Fensch Valley Industrial All Star. I was tempted to pick up a book or two from their strong selection of titles, because I have a lot of music books in languages other than English, but again space constraints made me take a more conservative approach. A nice spot to check out if you’re in town.
51-60, Av. des Champs-Elysees *Closed*
We’re staying only a short walk from he world-famous Champs-Elysees and figured we’d stroll it on Sunday night after dinner and hit up the Virgin Megastore since it was supposed to be open until 10PM. But it was Megaclosed, and in a seemingly very Megapermanent way, since it looked the same both times we walked past it on Monday too. Not a big deal, really, but it would have been cool to see if we could find some CDs. So we got iced lattes instead and called it a night, which seemed a lot like winning to both of us.
We ran across records in the stalls of a few sidewalk vendors, as well as an outdoor flea market we randomly encountered, but I didn’t bother with these. There are plenty of other shops in Paris as well, but our time was limited. That being said, I think we picked out three very good ones, and all three get my recommendation should you find yourself in Paris.