Octet: Cash and Carry Songs

Cash and Carry Songs

Unsolicited CDs show up all the time at betterPropaganda world headquarters here in San Francisco. We're real good friends with the mailman, the UPS guy, the FedEx guy and so on. Most of the time, if we haven't heard of it, the odds of a random CD making any sort of immediate impact are fairly low. So there I was, opening the mail one day, and I got to a package containing Octet's latest full length Cash and Carry Songs. Never heard of 'em. Usually CDs show up with a 'one sheet' which is a little bio or press kit. The one for Octet explains that they're a French electronica duo like Air, and that they sing in "adorably broken English." Generally, it's a publicist's job to help contextualize an artist; I can't blame them for namedropping. I liked Air's big worldwide hit "Sexy Boy" years back, so I give the CD a listen.

The album starts off with the vocal track "Hey Bonus" which begins with some shimmering synth patterns not unlike the latest from The Postal Service, but quickly turns to some staccato harpsichord that screams The Beatles circa Revolver. Then, most of the way into the track, it gets glitchy bleepy weird cool; maybe not as out there as Mouse on Mars these days, but definitely edgy as far as electronic production goes for poptronica bands.

By the second track I realize that the most accurate comparison to Air is that both bands are very good.

I'm really liking this CD and hand it over to our electronic music director, Jonah Sharp, to get his opinion. He takes it home for the weekend and winds up playing it over and over and over. It's not very often both of us will latch on to some unknown entity, we both dig it. So up it goes on betterPropaganda.

Between well crafted songs, the album wanders off into dreamy soundscapes and instrumental passages. Heavy on melody, pianos or layers of drifting synth pads, these interludes blend with nice atmospherics: lots of glitches and pops and bleeps gurgle underneath, or cut to the surface unexpectedly. Yeah. Well written pop tunes and experimental tracks on the same album, I like.

Another song worth mentioning is "Sneakers & Thong" which reminds me of Prince's Sign of the Times album, sort of similar in mood to "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker," but two decades more modern in production aesthetic. Bleep. The chorus features a female vocalist repeating "I was in love with you/You were in love" in a lovely French accent. I melt into the chair everytime this comes around.

Some of the other tracks go into some r&b flavored grooves. Guest vocalist Suzanne Thoma makes some nice contributions. At other times, the music shows some European Baroque roots through their choices of chord structure, a nice counterpart to the ultra modern production veneer. Then the album ends with one minute of ultra pixelated neo-tronic-metal breakcore that sounds like kid606, Madame Chao or Hellz Army. I think they've been to a Teknival or two. I love these guys.

Highly listenable, look for this one when it's released in the States September 21, 2004 on Plain Recordings.

Terbo Ted

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song:Hey Bonus
album:Cash And Carry Songs (Plain Re…
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song:Sneakers & Thong
album:Cash And Carry Songs (Plain Re…
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