FIP: Radio France

Today, I’m off to a bit of rickety start. The internet is running as slow as shit. And its a bit of a battle just to squeeze out the simplest of posts. Excuse the less than pleasant metaphors. But it’s really annoying, causing all this negativity and frustration to seep into the thoughts I’m thinking and the words I’m writing.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to remain focused and positive, and get this one penned and posted before I lose the inspiration. Because honestly, it’s a good one, and I’ve been wanting to get it featured on the blog since last week.

That said, this round’s a bit different from my typical topics – i.e. shows, singles, setlists, videos, and the occasional mix. Instead, I’ve got an internet radio station I’d like to share. It’s a French station, titled FIP, which originally stands for France Inter Paris, and has been around since 1971. The website portal is more recent than that. Although I’m not sure when it was launched.

Of course, the entire site is in French, so it’s a bit tricky at first to get your bearings. Google translate can help with that. You’ll find multiple genres, including electro, rock, jazz, groove, world, reggae, and a few others. The site’s web audio player is your quickest access.

But there’s also a mobile app that ups the convenience factor. There’s a little British flag icon next to the social media links at the top of the site, and that takes you to a page in English that introduces their mobile device app.

FIP’s mobile app, screen captured from my iPhone.

That covers the basics. Now, for the interesting bits.

A co-worker recommended this internet station, following a lengthy bout of covering everyone’s musical interests in the room. In other words, our team’s been working all week, and we were at a loss for what to listen to next, having run the gamut through each person’s tastes. That’s when FIP was thrown into the mix. This co-worker mentioned that it was one of the few sites that featured such an eclectic selection, that he hardly recognized any of the tunes or artists, even after a full day of listening.

Well, that sounded like an interesting challenge, so we all decided to gave it a whirl.

FIP didn’t disappoint. As you can guess, a lot of the music is predominantly French, or from neighboring European countries. But imagine if you just discovered the U.S. indie scene for the first time, and only knew a few, if any, of the artists. But everything you heard, you liked. That’s kind of what FIP is like. But it’s not driven by algorithms, like say Spotify. It’s real humans in charge of music programming, and they keep the selection unique, interesting, and seamless, around the clock, 24-7. It’s like a mega version of KCRW. Or a really groovy Public Broadcasting Station that’s in love with great music. And there’s no commercials.

Over just two days of listening, I think I recognized maybe 5-6 songs, one of them being an obscurity by Air, which of course, is a French act. I’m not sure what channels I covered. But I heard some bossa nova, jazz, cabaret, electro, funk, disco, and a few gems in between that spanned the ’60s, all the way to today. As I mentioned, it’s all seamlessly integrated, yet not beat-mixed, so the eclectic nature just flows smoothly and organically from one track to the next. And not having any adverts makes it that much easier to get lost in.

I’m going to wrap this up with the first selection I heard on FIP. It’s an album from 1967 from Tamba 4 titled “We and the Sea.” This undoubtedly predates my existence, so I had to do a little digging to learn about these guys. There’s not a lot of info out there, but the short of it is Tamba 4 is/was the creative outlet for Brazilian jazz, samba, and bossa nova pianist Luiz Eça. These guys were known for their improvisational and progressive approach to furthering the bossa nova genre, which admittedly, I’m not an expert in.

Anyway, I just loved what I heard. It felt idyllic of the past, an era where things seemed simpler and more complex all at once, where emotion really seeped into the music in a naturalistic way. I could see why FIP would feature an album like this. It would fit right into the European street culture and cafes of an era gone by, but still remembered, and celebrated. It sets a mood and an atmosphere that makes me wish I was there.

So that does it for this post. Here’s an embed for Tamba 4. I’ve also included links at the bottom for the FIP player/app, if you haven’t already found them above. Enjoy all this aural goodness. It’ll keep you going indefinitely, while infinitely broadening your music palate. I know, that sounds too good to be true. But that’s not that far from the mark. Try it out and see … and/or hear. Cheers.

Tamba 4’s 1967 album “We and the Sea.”

FIP Website Player