Monday, May 2, 2011


Dear Xeno and Oaklander, are you French? I notice your album 'Sentinelle' is recorded in New York but you either sing in Gallic or a type of English that suggests that the language is not your first. It's just that you don't look particularly French, not to say I am looking for a beret and a string of onions, but I've seen pictures and I wouldn't say you look any more French that I do and I'm not French.

It doesn't really matter it's just that I was going to compare you to Mathematiques Modernes but just incase you aren't French I won't. Just to be safe what I will say is:

Xeno and Oaklander, architects of a newly re-discovered bed-sit lo-fi electronic world originally given birth to by the likes of Soft Cell have taken the concept mysterious and miserable down-beat electronica and smashed it out of the proverbial park. I think the cool kids call it chill or dark wave nowadays. Back then it was just plain old electronic pop.

Not to say for a second that 'Sentinelle' is a classic or necessarily even a keeper but they have certainly done their best to stay true to the original battle plan.

The electronics which come courtesy of both parties are pretty competent and as you might expect for a minimal excursion into the world of analogue electronics. Nothing fancy, couple of nice hooks a distinct 80's feel and what I would describe as a methodical Germanic tinge.

My issue with the group is the vocals, not so much the French language pieces but the robotic English that fills at least half of the album. When such delivery was part of Kraftwerk's schtick they were let off the hook because they were pretending to be robots. When the same vocal sound was of the Belgian New Beat scene (Front 242 etc) it was annoying but somehow the punchy and plain Fascistic sounds made up for that. Now in 2011 it falls South of quaint or kitsch and just sounds a bit silly really.

Part of me would rather have the entire album sung in French, if they are French.

Anyway, to give you an idea of what to expect from the sound I asked a friend what he would recommend off the back of the fact that I was blown away by Sally Shapiro's 'Disco Romance' album and he wrote the name of this band on the back of a receipt and passed it to me. It was all very exciting and covert. Unfortunately I couldn't really read his handwriting so it took a while to track down.

Was it worth it?

Yeah, course it was. It's alright. Not going to set the world on fire or anything like that but there are worse things to listen to on a Sunday night. Although after the events of last night I feel like I should probably be listening to Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the USA' happily ignoring the true meaning of the song and instead seeing it as a perfect meathead anthem to celebrate the fact that they 'aced' that modern day Fu Manchu Osama Bin Ladin yesterday.

Mixed emotions about that, either way, Ding-Dong the witch is well and truly dead...

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