Review: Jack Foley
THE website for OSKAR duo, Jonny Dawe and Nick Powell, states
that 'Oskar is awkward and accessible', 'playful and profound'
and 'electronic and organic'.
In basic terms, OSKAR is a collaboration between former Collapsed
Lung bassist and fine artist, Dawe, and former Strangelove keyboard
player and soundtrack composer, Powell.
And it pretty much falls into all of the categories listed above,
coming across as both profoundly moving and oddly annoying.
In its publicity, OSKAR states that it feels comfortable calling
itself art rock, drawing on sources such as Krautrock, systems
composers, Michael Nyman and Steve Reich, Sonic Youth, folk-psych
and ambient musics.
It also refers to itself as both a character and a state of mind
- and, certainly, you have to be in the right state of mind to
Air Conditioning, the latest album, is at its best when
the music is at its most expansive, as in Missing Piece,
a deeply atmospheric, borderline melancholic effort that boasts
some stunning classical violin that wouldn't sound out of place
on a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style soundtrack.
The livelier, catchier Chi Chi Cha Cha and Guy is a
genuinely upbeat affair, with a driving beat and some quirky electronic
While the strings and violins return for the strangely beguiling
Cloudy Day, Sunny Day, capably described in the PR as
being like 'a gorgeous synthetic watercolour', and former Goya
Dress member, Sarah Willson contributes some haunting vocals to
Bang That Drum (another of the album's highlights).
Yet, as moving as the album can be, at times, there is the odd
moment when it drifts into deeply repetitive, elevator-music-style
monotony, during tracks suck as Strike This, which features
another vocal from Willson (sounding curiously like PJ Harvey).
Thankfully, it's the good stuff that prevails, however, lending
the album a unique, eerie, yet hauntingly dream-like quality that
is strangely compelling.
You might not know why you like it, but there is something about
Air Conditioning that makes it essential for anyone who
likes their music to challenge or provoke serious thought.
2. Bang That Drum
3. Missing Piece
4. Chi Chi Cha Cha & Guy
6. Cloudy Day/Sunny Day
7. Strike This
8. Air Conditioning