In 2007, actress and musician Charlotte Gainsbourg suffered a traumatic brain injury while water-skiing. She didn’t find out until complaining to doctors about repetitive headaches that her brain had a time bomb in it. Doctors performed emergency brain surgery on Gainsbourg to remove a potentially fatal cerebral hemorrhage, according to a Consequences of Sound article.
After recovering from her surgery, Gainsbourg spent hours in MRI machines while doctors mapped the progress of her recovery. After spending so much time listening to the chaotic whir of the MRI, Gainsbourg had the idea to put it to music. After diving into the heavy darkness of Lars Von Trier’s film, Antichrist, Gainsbourg was introduced to Beck, who suggested a musical collaboration. It was at that meeting where the seeds for the pair’s album IRM took root.
IRM is the French acronym for the English MRI. Although Beck knew very little of Gainsbourg’s accident and recovery, the two were united on artistic and musical levels. Beck wrote the lyrics, ‘Drill my brain all full of holes/Patch it up before it leaks/These memories come two bits by three,’ according to the Consequences of Sound article. Many of the themes on IRM deal with death, injury, recovery, and the mysteries of memory. Apparently Gainsbourg’s injury left her with a strong desire to express her dark explorations spawned by her accident and recovery.
According to a Google News article, all the songs on IRM are propelled by the ‘ambient rhythm of an MRI scanner.’ The title song showcases the medically-inspired lyrics, ‘Take a picture, what’s inside?/ Ghost image in my mind/ Neural pattern like a spider/ Capillary to the centre.’ Congratulations to Gainsbourg for taking what could have been a debilitating injury and turning it into beautiful music to inspire other brain injury survivors.
Consequences of Sound Staff. (February 1, 2010) ‘Flaunt on CoS: Charlotte Gainsbourg: Under the Intensive Care of France’s Favorite Daughter.’ Retrieved on February 12, 2010 from the Consequences of Sound Web site:http://consequenceofsound.net/2010/02/01/flaunt-on-cos-charlotte-gainsbo…‘s-favorite-daughter/
Mclendon, Ryan. (January 26, 2010) ‘After near fatal-accident, Charlotte Gainsbourg finds peace with new ‘˜IRM.’ ‘ Retrieved on February 12, 2010 from the Google News Web site:http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jtaEd6mfCsg…
Newman, Douglas. (January 26, 2010) ‘With IRM, Charlotte Gainsbourg finds her muse in Beck.’ Retrieved on February 12, 2010 from the Culture Map Web site:http://culturemap.com/newsdetail/01-26-10-charlotte-gainsbourg-finds-her…