Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Oiapok — OisoLün
(OMR 002/2, 2023, CD / LP / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-07-26
Oiapok is an eight-piece band from Strasbourg, and while the name is new. the band has been together in one form or another since 2008 or so, previously recording on the AltrOck label under the very French band name Camembert, with the album Schnorgl Attahk in 2011, and a follow-up album, Negative Toe, in 2017, each time with some band members changing, and at some point after the 2017 album they decided to change the name of the band — and some more band members — and become Oiapok. Today the group shares many elements with its earlier incarnations, the one most obvious factor is the influence of mid-70s Frank Zappa, with mallet percussion on nearly every track (vibraphone and marimba), as well as string harp and horns, though over time the sound has become less RIO-edgy and more jazzy, with a nod to Herbie Hancock and perhaps Jaga Jazzist, and while the vocals on the 2011 album are mostly incidental, OisoLün features female vocals prominently on nearly every track, and I suppose that alone is worthy of the name change. Those vocals are delivered by one Melanie Gerber, giving their sound a bit of a Canterbury flavor, while the seven instrumentalists include Etienne Agard and Frédéric Durmann (trombones), Guillaume Gravelin (harp), Clarissa Imperatore (mallets and flute), Matthieu Lenormand (drums), Valentin Metz (guitar), and Pierre Wawrzyniak (bass and compositions); even Paolo “Ske” Botta guests on additional keyboards and mixing on most tracks, while Udi Koomran did the mastering, so you know it’s going to sound superb. The opening title track is sung in Antillean Creole, and “Les Grands Equipages de Lumière” is sung in French, with the remaining four cuts sung in English (even those with French titles), the lyrics are all included on a mini fold-out poster and some liner notes provide further insight. With OisoLün, Oiapok has delivered a superb debut album that offers a little bit of a lot of different things, a fresh sound that transcends existing forms.
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