Thursday 19 February 2009

Music from The Sultan's Elephant - (May the 4th be with you)

The Sultan's Elephant was a show created by the French Royal de Luxe theatre company. It involved a massive mechanical elephant and a giant girl marionette. The music for this show was composed and performed live by a French band called Les Balayeurs Du Desert.

The spectaclar show was performed in various locations around the world between 2005 and 2006. I was lucky enough to catch the show when it came to London from 4–7 May 2006. The show started with a Cyber-steam rocket "crashing" in Waterloo Place on Thursday May 4.

By Friday, a giant mechanical elephant arrived, along with the Sultan, resulting in some major traffic jams and disruption. In the meantime, a giant girl marionette emerged from the space ship and "walked" up Pall Mall and eventually met up with the elephant. While the girl toured London on an open top bus, the elephant paraded around St James Park. The following day, the elephant arrived in Trafalgar Square where the girl marionette was lifted onto the elephant's trunk and was carried back to Horseguards Parade. The grand finale took place on the Sunday when the girl returned to her space ship and took off in a cloud of smoke, thus concluding a magical few days in the hands and minds of the Royal de Luxe theatre company.

Apart from the sheer spectacle of the staging of the Sultan's Elephant there was of course Les Balayeurs Du Desert's live performance during the show, captured on their album Jules Verne Impact in memory of the 200th anniversary of Jules Verne's death. The album itself is a delightfully eccentric mix of world music, rap, bhangra, electro, dance and rock. It kicks off with the Bo-Diddley meets Bollywood Elephant Walk. Later on The Doors Hello I Love You gets a bonkers Galllic makeover in Hello Ola while Allez Hue dans L'eau echoes the sunny sounds of Air. The penultimate track, the mesmeric Decollage, will be familiar to those who witnessed the girl emerging from her space ship.
This album is not perhaps to everyone's taste purely because of it's eclectic mix of musical styles, but every time I put it on I'm reminded of that magical time in 2006 - the like of which we are unlikely to see again.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Was there and loved it too! Kuson@Bangkok