Oiapok - OisoLün

(CD 2023, 38:36, )

The tracks:
  1- OisoLün(2:21)
  2- Summer 19(6:46)
  3- Les Grands Équipages De Lumière(6:03)
  4- Le Concierge(7:28)
  5- Frogs Might Disappear(8:42)
  6- So Empty It Looks Real(7:16)

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Oiapok? Who comes up with a name like that you may ask yourself. The name comes from the Oyapock River in South America, which forms the border between French Guiana and Brazil, and from Oiapoque, one of the two ring systems of the asteroid Chariklo ,which is also named after the river; “Oiapoque” is the Portuguese spelling. The people who came up with this name are the same people who once were in the French band Camembert.
This Strasbourg based formation, who released two albums and an EP under this name between 2009 and 2017, changed their name to Oiapok in 2020. The reason for the renaming was stylistic changes that they wanted to document with a new name.

The band can be described as a band which creates the missing link between future jazz, progressive rock, exotica and the music of Frank Zappa and Gong. They were born from an artistic love at first sight between Pierre Wawrzyniak (compositions, bass), Guillaume Gravelin (Harp, arrangements) and Mélanie Gerber (Vocals). Their music was born from inspirations from travel, literature and societal cries. They recently released their first album OisoLün. The OisoLün is a chimera, an exotic bird, the last representative of its species which flies over a devastated world.

You could say that their music draws its inspiration from progressive rock, 70's funk, film soundtracks, and Afro-Cuban rhythms while shaking conventions with its non standard instrumentation and its various influences even representing a new musical movement in France.

The album's compositions are based on atypical instrumentation such as harp, trombone, xylophone, vibraphone, flutes and classical percussion. This is mixed with vocal parts which go music wise into the direction of female singers such as Lisa Gerrard and Björk. Those vocals can be heard throughout the entire album. They are partly in English and partly in French. However in the introductory title track the singing is in a Creole French of the Antilles. Musically, the Zappa musical elements are still present, but making room for a more airy approach. This is dominated by a playing, which increasingly brings in Afro-Caribbean-inspired rhythms, and is mixed into a jazzy-folk concoction with powerful brass inserts and the omnipresent plinking of the harp. The ethereal singing of the female singer floats above everything and is sometimes used more like another instrument.

All of the six compositions sound rather mellow and are all of the same musical level. Not any of them really sounds better and therefore I don't have any favourites to mention.

Oiapok isn't easy to compare with other acts that's for sure. But you might say if you like music which is inspired by the likes of Frank Zappa and Gong there might be a chance you are going to like the music on OisoLün.

*** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)

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