You may know Joakim Bouaziz from his 2007 album Monsters & Silly Songs, a sui generis fusion of disco, post-punk and pop that became something of an instant cult classic. You may know him for his remixes of artists like Cut Copy, Simian Mobile Disco, Annie, Alter Ego, DJ Mehdi, Royksopp and Poni Hoax. You may know him from his years behind the scenes at Tigersushi, the iconic Parisian label at the crossroads between post-punk, dance music and the avant-garde. But whatever you think you know about Joakim, prepare to be very surprised by this, his third studio album. --- Frankly, prepare to be blown away: the opening "Back to Wilderness" takes care of that with eight minutes of sturm-und-klang dirge that's more Black Sabbath than Black Devil, more Sonic Youth than Sleeping Bag. And that's just the intro. Over the course of a tidy 51 minutes, Joakim and his band mates fold together bits of psychedelia, old-school computer music, exotica, electro-pop, blues, new wave, New Pop, Krautrock and more into an expansive, remarkably coherent album that refuses to be reduced to a single genre, much less a single idea. This is no pastiche: these are proper songs, and the whole album follows the kind of overall arc that's rare in a contemporary longplayer. "Spiders" is the first single off the album, with six delirious minutes of Italo arpeggios, fluid vocal harmonies, acid-house snares and an extended Afro-pop breakdown that perfectly sum up the record's madcap, magpie spirit. --- A few tracks — "Travel In Vain", "King Kong Is Dead" — remain essentially unadulterated, capturing the live band in full flame. Others, with their complex, interlocking layers of guitars, synthesizers, beats and vocals, reflect Joakim's role as architect — but the final form is as surprising to him as anyone. --- "I think that most (young) artists today are like archaeologists, especially in graphics and contemporary art," says Joakim. "You can't compete with history, with what's been done. You need to use that, in a more or less disrespectful way, to make new things." --- He does just that, repeatedly but the results are always more than the sum of their parts, even the most familiar references become strange again, which is a pretty good way of summing up the album as a whole: Milky Ways makes sense in a way that's almost disconcerting. It feels less like a product of its times than some obscure platter found in a dusty basement record shop, the shrinkwrap greyed and the corners bent, but the force of the recording unchanged. It's time saved from time itself — something not even youth can do. Only records, and records like this one.
(added: 2009-09-07 10:29:29 )