Sordide Sentimentale
The French connection


25 years ago, a small fanzine and record label began to publish highly collectable 45-rpm records of bands like Joy Division, Durutti Column or Tuxedomoon: Sordide Sentimentale, Rouen, France.

The idea behind Sordide Sentimentale was conceived in the late 1970ies, when Pierre Turmel saw a concert of the band TV Toy in Boston. Pierre and his friend Yves von Bontee decided to do a small magazine related to artistic forms that were decidedly different from the cultural mainstream of these days. They had recognized the dawn of a new form of musical creativity that was not covered at all by the established music press. Plus, the traditional journalistic approach towards criticism did not find their approval either. Yves and Pierre sensed there was a gap to fill, and founded a small fanzine called "Sordide Sentimentale", dedicated to exciting new bands like Manchester's Joy Division, and enhanced with articles on the social and intellectual background of the music.

The records, usually 7-inch or 12-inch vinyl singles to be played at 45 rpm, were enclosed in a special magazine-style folder that featured texts, illustrations, and photos of the musicians. Sordide Sentimentale published limited editions only (2000 copies maximum), mainly because they did not have enough money to produce larger quantities. Of course, Yves and Pierre did all the artwork themselves, not only in order to cut costs, but because this way they had the creative freedom to visualize the music, to express and emphasize the hidden or obvious meaning that lies in every art form.

The Joy Division edition "Licht und Blindheit" ("Light and blindness"), released in 1980, would be a perfect example for Sordide Sentimentale's works. The title expresses emotions of hopelessness and harshness (the blind obviously cannot see the light that surrounds them) and is also a reference to German Romanticism of the 18th and 19th century. The German Romantics, for example Caspar David Friedrich, had a strong favour for emotions rather than reason and a sense for ancient traditions and nature. Friedrich's works often showed a fascination for isolation, fatalism, and human transitoriness, and thus seemed to be a perfect inspiration for the artwork on "Licht und Blindheit".
> Spleen and ideal

"Licht und Blindheit" cover painting

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