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Lizzy Mercier Descloux

Press Color

Light in the Attic


CD $14
2LP Yves Klein Blue $23
  • All tracks newly remastered
  • Double LP housed in a Deluxe Stoughton gatefold “Tip-On” jacket
  • Liner notes by Vivien Goldman
  • Includes download card for MP3 of the full album
  • Special Edition exclusives:
    + Expanded double LP with bonus tracks
    + Pressed on Yves Klein Blue wax


Lizzy Mercier Descloux may have come of age in Paris, but was in New York’s Lower East Side that she really came alive.

“Lizzy Mercier Descloux brought an other worldly intrigue to NYC when she first came in 1975. With her European take on minimalism and funky grooves she helped make the no wave scene that much more fabulous, first with the Rosa Yemen 12” on ZE in 1978 followed by the wonderful Press Color LP. I saw her perform once at a club uptown called the 80s when Press Color was released and was attracted to her sense of experimentalism and openness within some strange pop moment. Never met her, but Richard Hell loved her. How could he not?”

- Thurston Moore
London, 2015

Available: August 14, 2015

Lizzy Mercier Descloux may have come of age in Paris, but was in New York’s Lower East Side that she really came alive. The French punk pioneer, a friend of Patti Smith and Richard Hell, moved to New York in 1977 and soon immersed herself in avant-garde poetry, performance art, and punk music.

Closely associated with the founders of ZE Records (home to Was (Not Was) and Kid Creole & The Coconuts), Descloux released her debut album, Press Color, in 1979, revealing a punk-funk sound that positioned her as the French answer to the UK group The Slits or New York’s own ESG. Just as The Slits gave “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” a makeover fit for warehouse parties on their celebrated Cut LP, Descloux’s album revealed a penchant for the unexpected cover version too. It kicks off with a brilliantly rhythmic take on The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’s Fire–a hit, like Marvin Gaye’s in 1968. There’s also a version of Lalo Schifrin’s theme from Mission Impossible that appears to predate the breakbeat scene by a good twenty years. Elsewhere, we hear echoes of Serge Gainsbourg’s Afrobeat-influenced work, Blondie’s disco-inflected punk, and Talking Heads’ world music-inspired art pop.

Backed by guitarists/bassists D.J. Barnes and Erik Elliasson plus drummer Jimmy Young, Descloux creates a naïve musical world in which rhythm is everything—not a byproduct of the song but the reason for its existence. It’s neither played nor sung with any great skill, but it has feel and character in spades and a looseness that’s all too rarely achieved.

Of course, an artist with song titles including “Tumor" (a cover of “Fever" with amended lyrics) and “Herpes Simplex” is never a shoo-in for mainstream acceptance, and like many a No Wave classic, the album sold little. Now regarded as a cult classic, this Light In The Attic reissue is presented in an extended 18-track edition, collecting much of Descloux’s work, including “Morning High,” recorded with Patti Smith.

Descloux returned to Paris upon scoring a contract with CBS and soon found herself travelling to Africa to research the Afrobeat sound experimented with–from afar–on Press Color. The hit single “Mais où Sont Passées les Gazelles?” and album Zulu Rock followed. By the 1990s, Descloux had turned her back on music in favor of painting and writing, which she continued until her death in 2004. Her playful spirit lives on in this LP.

Artist Bio

Mercier Descloux, with partner Michel Esteban, established the magazine Rock News and ran in the same circles as Patti Smith and Richard Hell. She became a genre defying artist and pioneer of worldbeat and avant garde rock, and supreme minimalist of the no wave genre in her own right.

In 1978, legendary label ZE Records released a mini-album by Mercier Descloux’s performance art duo, Rosa Yemen, and went on to release several of Lizzy’s solo albums. Her debut solo album, Press Color, consists of eight songs owing more to disco, funk, and film scores than punk rock, all recorded within a two week span. Lizzy’s second solo release, Mambo Nassau, evokes Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra” and “Born Under Punches,” riddled with off-kilter-time-keeping, flailing guitars, and lush basslines. Heavily influenced by African music, art rock, funk, and soul, Mercier Descloux’s music gained extreme popularity in her native France, the height of which came with her 1984 album, Zulu Rock. The album seems a more vivacious and enthralling harbinger for Paul Simon’s Graceland. ZE Records’ Michel Esteban recalls, “This South African music reminded us, as incredible as it may sound, of The Velvet Underground.”

Lizzy spent the next two decades living somewhat nomadically in Africa, France, New York, South America, and the West Indies, never ceasing her pursuit of the arts as she transitioned from music to painting and writing. Mercier Descloux was diagnosed with cancer in 2003 and passed away the following year.

Preview Tracklist

  • 1 Fire
  • 2 Torso Corso
  • 3 Mission Impossible
  • 4 No Golden Throat
  • 5 Jim On The Move
  • 6 Wawa
  • 7 Tumor
  • 8 Aya Mood
  • 9 Mission Impossible 2.0
  • 10 Rosa Vertov
  • 11 Decrypted
  • 12 Herpes Simplex
  • 13 Larousse Baron Bic
  • 14 Tso Xin Yu Yin
  • 15 Nina con un tercer ojo
  • 16 Birdy Num-num
  • 17 Hard-Boiled Babe
  • 18 Morning High