öOoOoOoOoOo - Samen

öOoOoOoOoOo - Samen

12 songs
45:34 minutes
***** *****


It’s really hard for a band to come up with an original name, so kudos to this French duo who decided to call their project öOoOoOoOoOo. By itself the name is quite unreadable, because it is not meant to be read, but to be interpreted as a caterpillar moving from right to left, with the umlaut on the leftmost o being the cute larvae’s eyes. Therefore the band allows itself to be called also either Chenille (for their native Frenchmen) or Caterpillar (for the English speaking people).

Such a weird name dictates of course equally strange music, and in that regard you won’t be disappointed in öOoOoOoOoOo. The first comparison that comes to mind is Mr. Bungle, the experimental band headed by Mike Patton in the Nineties. Not that this French duo sounds the same, but their modus operandi is similar. The foundation of the music might be metal, but there are so many other things happening all over the place that Samen might even appeal to open-minded cross genre people. Apart from the drums, which have been played on the album by Pryapisme’s Aymeric Thomas, all of the music has been performed by Baptiste Bertrand, while the great singer Asphodel is in charge of the vocals. She’s been a member of avantgarde metal band Pin-Up Went Down in the past, and is currently in Penumbra, whose gothic metal is of course more accessible but definitely not as titillating as what she’s doing on Samen.

The opener Rules Of The Show shows right from the start that the gothic elements are inexistent. Instead we get a much more colourful music marrying R’n’B with weirdo metal. The same counts for the following Fucking Freaking Futile Freddy which sounds as if Lady Gaga and Mike Patton had a love child which then has been nursed by Devin Townsend. Being weird is nice by itself, but the great thing about öOoOoOoOoOo is that they are also magnificent songwriters, so underneath all the bizarroid sounds assaulting the listener, you will always be surprised by incredibly catchy choruses. This is best illustrated on No Guts = No Masters which combines a dramatic string section with cartoon vocals, and in the middle of this you get one of the most powerful choruses that will make you sing along. All of these unusual elements poured into one pot should not work in any known galaxy, but Asphadel and Baptiste must have created their own pocket universe where the general laws of music just don’t seem to apply anymore. Purple Tastes Like White is a song where they act mellower, combining the romance of a ballad with some elements of trip hop, showing once more that nothing is impossible for them.

I doubt that it is easy to reproduce this kind of music in a live setting, especially since there are often many vocal tracks running together, but maybe this is a kind of art best enjoyed on CD. The booklet is made up like an exhibition and shows a lot of male and female nudity, but in a very tasteful manner. Fans of avantgarde music that neither frown at metal nor at catchy melodies will be delighted that there are still bands that try something new, and even succeed 100%. Nothing less than the maximum rating would be a slap in the artists’ faces.

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