Cendres de lune is the debut album by the French singer/songwriter Mylène Farmer, released on April 1, 1986. The album was precedeed by the hit single "Libertine", and the album was rereleased in 1987 preceded by the song "Tristana". This album, which was Farmer's sole one written and composed by Laurent Boutonnat, achieved moderate success in France when compared with her later albums but it helped to launch her career.
After the moderate success of the first four singles ("Maman a tort", "My Mum Is Wrong" [the English-language version of "Maman a tort"], "On est tous des imbéciles" and "Plus grandir"), Farmer decided to release her first album. At the time, she had signed a contract for two albums with the recording company Polydor, which reserved the right to break the contract at any time. Fortunately, in 1986, the success of "Libertine" brought Farmer her first big hit and allowed her to produce Cendres de lune.
The vinyl release of the album contained only nine tracks, including "Maman a tort", "Plus grandir" and its B-side "Chloé", plus six other songs. Polydor did not procure the copyright for "My Mum Is Wrong", "On est tous des imbéciles" and its B-side "L'Annonciation" from RCA, the label Farmer released those tracks on. However, in 1987, with the increasingly prominence of the Compact Disc, the album was reissued with a total of 12 titles: "Tristana", the 1987 hit written by Farmer, and two remixes ("Libertine" [remix special club], "Tristana" [remix club]) were added to the track listing.
The album was also released in Canada and Germany. The cover, in black and white, was produced by Laurent Boutonnat and shows Farmer in profile, apparently sad, putting on a hat.
The lyrics were written by Laurent Boutonnat who claimed to have had difficulty in composing them. However, "Plus grandir", "Tristana" and "Au Bout de la nuit" were written by Farmer herself (from "Tristana" onwards, she wrote all the lyrics of her songs), and "Maman a tort" by Jérôme Dahan. Generally, the lyrics deal with themes that would recur in Farmer's future albums, namely death, violence, suicide, sexuality, sadness and fear of aging. Therefore, the bases of the singer's universe were laid with this first album whose darkness contrasted greatly with the optimistic songs of the time.
Except for "Maman a tort" and "Libertine", the music was produced by Laurent Boutonnat who used mostly synthesizers and acoustic keyboards and was inspired by the new wave.
Cendres de lune was generally well received by critics. It was considered as an "excellent" album (Gaipied), a "success" (Podium), "a first album rather masterly" (La Provence), "in the area of the variety, one of the most beautiful things of the moment" (Les Gran). "Full of little marvels" (Charente), it contains "hits having an wholesome impertinence" (Télé Poche) and "provides a real insight of [Farmer]'s talent"; [the singer] carries us with her crystalline voice and strange texts, out of time and out of the standards" (Le Républicain). "The songs of Mylène fill the air with an atmosphere alternately naughty and sad but very engaging" (7 à Paris). "Mylène's voice is exquisite and her accomplices made her sing little ordinary things" (La Dépêche). "[Farmer] seduces with sensitive texts, almost surreal, tenderly erotic" (Le Télégramme).
It has been performed during the 1989, 1996, 2000 and 2009 tours and 25 times on television
"Au Bout de la nuit"
This ballad deals with suicide after a break-up. While the first two stanzas glorify the love, the two following refer to the split which leads to a heavy solitude. A sigh performed by a male voice punctuates the song. The song is the B-side of the vinyl for "Tristana".
It nas never been performed on tour, but four times on television: Béart 87 (14 January 1987, Antenne 2), Ligne directe (2 April 1987, Antenne 2), C'est encore mieux l'après-midi (9 April 1987, Antenne 2) and Sida: le grand rendez-vous (4 June 1987, Antenne 2)
The song is about a rite of witchcraft called the Sabbath, in which the goat symbolizes the Devil. Farmer addresses him and takes part in Satanic rites including baptism. A phrase of Jean-Paul Sartre's book Huis-clos ("L'enfer, c'est les autres") is cited in the lyrics. A choir of children, a goat's bleating and the singer's laughter are used in the background vocals.
In the beginning of the song Mylène imitates a question-and-response from the Sabbath, in English: "Do you love the devil, my dear?/Oh, yes, I love him!". It was recorded in style suggesting usage of an effect known as backmasking, as well as being recorded and played back normally.
It has never been performed on tour nor on television; however, on Mylène's performance of "Chloé" on Azimuts, the final seconds of the song were heard just before she sang "Chloé".
It has been performed during the 1989 tour and 26 times on television.
This rhyme, inspired by William Shakespeare's Hamlet, deals with the death of Chloé, the fictitious younger sister of the singer. Farmer sings in a high tone with a little girl's voice and a choir of children accompanies her on the second refrain. The song is the B-side of the vinyl for "Plus grandir".
It has never been performed on tour, but three times on television: Aujourd'hui la vie (September 16, 1989, Antenne 2), Azimuts (September 24 1986, FR3 Lorraine) and Mon Zénith à moi (September 1989, Canal+)
In 2012 the song was partially redone on the album Monkey Me as "Nuit d'hiver".
It has never been performed on tour nor on television.
This song is a tribute to Greta Garbo, called "Divine" in the lyrics. Several allusions to the actress' life - the death of her parents, her distance from her fans - are mentioned in the couplets and slogans accompanying the release of some of her films are used in the refrain. Original statements by Garbo from several films are sampled at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the song. The song is the B-side of the vinyl for "Libertine".
It has never been performed on tour, but one time on television: C'est encore mieux l'après-midi (22 January 1987, Antenne 2)