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Oskar - Air Conditioning


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 appeciate it.

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 flourishes.

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.

Track listing:
1. P.S.I
2. Bang That Drum
3. Missing Piece
4. Chi Chi Cha Cha & Guy
5. Peripherique
6. Cloudy Day/Sunny Day
7. Strike This
8. Air Conditioning

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