Aude Van Wyller’s astonishing debut album as Oï les Ox is a sprawling, kaleidoscopic, hour-long
thrill-ride through intricate, interwoven and hugely ambitious styles that reminds us of the
minimalist pop perfection of Broadcast’s ‘Tender Buttons’, the percolating spectral brilliance
of Stereolab’s ‘Dots & Loops’, as well as Trevor Duncan’s enveloping La Jetée soundtrack and the
plaintive songcraft and steepled organ refrains of Julia Holter’s masterpiece ’Tragedy’. Basically -
it’s a lot - easily one of the most ambitious, layered and rewarding avant-pop albums we’ve heard
in an age.
Originally released on a limited cassette edition last year, ‘Crooner qui coule sous les Clous’
(translation: A crooner that sinks under nails) finally gets a vinyl airing via The Death Of Rave.
The hour-long, four part album revolves around a libretto written by the Brussels-based artist
in her native French, and performed in shapeshifting guises, all set to incredibly crystalline yet
mercurial synth arrangements and endlessly unwinding drum programming. It encompasses nods
to everything from coldwave to chamber music, æther folk, chanson and synth-pop in the most
beguiling style, all woven together by a spellbinding vocal presence and needlepoint arps that
patently place her music in a familiar, but exceedingly rare, other dimension.
Across its four parts, field recordings elide with original synthesis and multiple vocal personas
to spell out a flux of fleeting emotions with breathtaking subtlety and sensuality, riddled with
melodic ohrwurms. Each part contains an album’s worth of ideas, persistently altering the
scenery, lighting and style with inimitable deftness between passages of lilting songcraft, sound
collage, and electronic abstraction that betrays a keen reading and transmutation of classic and
contemporary vernacular into a singular, cinematic/operatic whole.
’Crooner qui coole sous les clous’ arrived on a limited cassette run last year like a dream,