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o.lamm - Snow Party

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Artist: o.lamm

Album: Snow Party

Label: Active Suspension

Review date: Jun. 13, 2002

Interesting click-and-glitch electronics, both with and without beats. While it’s definitely in the realm of Mego-style laptop work, the CD notes indicate that Olivier Lamm considers the work to be pop music, and there’s some merit to his claim.

This is o.lamm’s first album, after several singles. Using field recordings and various other samples, he balances the inevitable sterility of digital noises and manipulations with a somewhat natural aspect. The careful insertion of minimal melodic components helps make the songs more cohesive, I think – too many digital manipulators these days produce work that seems emotionless, and the pieces are often no more than disparate sounds collected together without anything binding them into song. o.lamm aims to avoid those pitfalls, and often he does just that.

“I was a joker now I’m just a prick” has a nice set of beats to it, with prickling static, hand-claps and slight cracklings, while keyboard sounds worm their way in almost without the listener noticing. But it’s those sounds that most make the song memorable.

Some of the songs do suffer from a seemingly purposeful lack of cohesion, which, while clever, disturbs the flow of the album. “description d’un cylindre,” for example, is a severely cut-up collage that is wisely kept short. It maintains an odd rhythm throughout, but still lacks the compelling virtues of the more coherent songs. Similarly, the title track feels too much like a random collection of noises without a guiding principle.

Oddly enough, one of the most minimal and deconstructed pieces is “Crackling,” a ‘cover’ of Suzanne Vega’s song – or at least so the liner notes claim. The original sounds were taken from the Vega recording, perhaps, but you certainly wouldn’t know it without being told.

The best songs here are tracks like "she's that boho folkie always strumming her guitar shyly in the corner," mixing digital noises with odd melodies, creating ghostly songs akin to what it would be like listening to a radio through interstellar interference. The ironically-named "guitar innovator" lays down video game synth rhythms and spreads thin electronic whisps and glitches over them. Not a guitar in sight, of course. It's one of those weird songs that manages to feel wistful and pretty even while combining sounds that, on their own, shouldn't feel that way. "faye at the desk" is a sparse atmosphere of minimal piano notes and electronic fuzz and static, rhythmic in the most broken-down sense of the word.

It’s these pieces that will stay with you after listening, and provide evidence to support their author’s claim to making pop music. Perhaps snap, crackle and pop is more accurate, but the melodies lurking within the cracked exteriors will bring you back to listen again.

By Mason Jones

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