Lizzy (Martine-Elizabeth) Mercier Descloux lived a life; I guess that if she’d been young now, she might be an international celebrity with songs, films, art and ballsy behaviour.
But, being born in 1956, and dying of cancer in 2004, women were inevitably defined by their male partners. Since LMD is not well-known, I choose to define her with regard to Patti Smith.
Lizzy grew up in France, did the art school thing and moved to New York, where Patti and Lizzy hung out, did poetry and released a punk-influenced Rosa Yemen mini-album on ZE records in 1978.
“Self-taught as a guitarist, she expressed herself as a minimalist within the no wave genre, concentrating on single-note lines combined with wrong-note harmonies and funky rhythms. While the record had poor sales, she toured in the USA and Europe.”
There were lots more collaborations, recording sessions in the Bahamas, some African music, film and jazz projects. The inference is that these all happened because Lizzy was a true creative with an ever-evolving succession of interests. Probably too, her personality, looks and lifestyle played a big part.
Fellow no wave musician and ZE labelmate Cristina dedicated a song called ‘Things Fall Apart’ to Lizzy – it’s on the 2004 re-release of Cristina’s album Sleep It Off. The dedication reads:
“chère copine in adversity … In loving memoryof her talent, her courage, and her kindness.”
An excellent article in the Pitchfork Review starts to overturn the image of an “intellectual sex-kitten” promulgated by various male associates.
“If there is a conclusive riposte to whether she was mused and used by the men around her, it’s in the consistency of her work over that decade—as suitors came and went—which defines her as a visionary, forging unconventional marriages of sound and attempting to push her singing to non-verbal transcendence. When examining Descloux’s unique voice, her strong and ever-shifting image, and her considerable achievements, one question becomes immediate: How could such a person possibly have been forgotten by history?”
Out on the art-school wing of punk rock, but definitely needing a big salute from us. Thank you Lizzy Mercier Descloux!