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Le Mans

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Spanish indie-popsters Le Mans (not to be confused with the American AOR band of the same name) were formed in San Sebastián, in the heart of Basque country; their original lineup featured vocalist Jone Gabarain, guitarist Ibon Errazkin, bassist Teresa Iturrioz, and stand-up drummer Peru Izeta.
They began playing together in early 1986 under the name Aventuras de Kirlian, performing simple, melodic pop tunes that were influenced by British indie pop of the time, and rarely lasted longer than one minute (owing to the fact that the members were learning their instruments as they went). The San Sebastián indie pop scene started to attract some attention in Madrid, and the band was eventually signed to indie label DRO, for whom they released a mini-album in the fall of 1989. It went nowhere, though, and the band was dropped in summer 1990; they resurfaced soon afterwards with the same lineup, now playing under the name Le Mans. In 1991, Gorka Ochoa joined the band as drummer (playing a full trap set), and Izeta switched to guitar. Thus constituted, Le Mans began recording a new album on their own time, simultaneously searching for a label to release the project when it was completed. Both processes were slow going; the album, Le Mans, was finally finished in late summer 1993, and the Madrid label Elefant agreed to release it several months later. Somewhat dissatisfied with the results, Le Mans quickly recorded a follow-up, Entresemana, which was issued in 1994; in addition to featuring some striking string arrangements, it better reflected their new influences, which in addition to indie pop included funk, psychedelia, cabaret pop, and melancholy singer/songwriters like Nick Drake. The band was also becoming more interested in British electronica, and soon put out a remix album titled Zerbina, which drew chiefly from trip-hop but also incorporated bits of ambient techno and jungle. This signaled a change in the band's overall musical direction; their next proper album, Saudade, was a more atmospheric, somber, electronic-tinged affair, reminiscent of bands on the 4AD or Too Pure rosters. Around this time, the band also issued one of its finest 12" singles, "Jonathan Jeremiah," which bridged the gap between Saudade and the more celebratory dance music of Zerbina. The American indie label Grimsey soon released a two-fer of Le Mans' first two albums, followed by an American issue of the band's 1998 album Aquí Vivía Yo, which featured its lushest arrangements to date. Despite the beginnings of interest in the band in the U.S. and U.K. (where they were profiled in the NME), Le Mans disbanded shortly after the release of Aquí Vivía Yo. Grimsey continued with plans to reissue the rest of the band's output, and Ibon Errazkin began work on a solo project in 2000. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi

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