Antena - Achilles
From the EP Camino del Sol (Les Disques du Crespuscle, 1982)
What's the exact opposite of sounding dated? You know, a record that sounds bizarre and utterly unfashionable when it comes out, but sounds absolutely up-to-the-minute a good quarter-century later? Well, whatever the word is, it fits Antena's debut. Upon its release in 1982, who would have known what to make of this? These days, however, after Stereolab, Air and Nouvelle Vague, the immediate response is "Oh, yes. Of course."
In its original incarnation, Antena was a French trio led by singer Isabelle Powaga. The 1982 five-song EP Camino del Sol followed an earlier single recasting Joao Gilberto's "The Girl From Ipanema" into a discordant, largely electronic meeting between pioneering electro-minimalists the Young Marble Giants and Tracey Thorn's defiantly amateurish first group the Marine Girls. Leading off the EP, "Achilles" retains a hint of the Brazilian influence in the lazy percussion and the quasi-samba breakdown in the final minute, but the synth-heavy arrangement is straight out of the post-punk playbook, and Powaga's dead cool, heavily accented vocals wouldn't start to sound close to normal in pop music until at least a year or two into Stereolab's reign.
Largely ignored at the time (especially after the original group split and Powaga started a new lineup called Isabelle Antena, whose music sounds basically like a somewhat hipper version of UK adult contemporary pop singer Basia), Antena get resurrected every few years. The most recent reissue, part of Les Temps Moderne's outstanding devotion to Crespuscule, Factory Benelux and similarly influential labels, collects everything the original lineup of Antena ever recorded, including two bonus tracks. If you like this, I strongly recommend it.