Switched On – O’o: Touche (InFiné)

reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

O’o are a French duo, Victoria Suter and Mathieu Daubigné, who are based in Barcelona. Their name makes an immediate impact, but is not an attempt to beat Google searching or make things difficult for fans to find. In fact their venture is named after the Kaua’i Ō’Ō bird of Hawaii, which has sadly been extinct since the late 1980s.

Touche is their debut album, a record of profound longing that speaks of their love of Laurie Anderson but also Björk and Kate Bush. The duo mostly use synthesizers to create their sonic picture, though there is a wealth of lavish scoring throughout the record.

What’s the music like?

Enchanting – and fulfilling the promise of the extremely colourful cover. Suter’s voice is perhaps the main reason for this, a beautiful instrument that responds well to multitracking, creating a velvety wall of sound. The production responds in kind, with a whole variety of different settings bringing the text to life. The sung texts appear to be in French and English, though the warmth to the productions takes them towards the Mediterranean.

Dorica Castra is one of the standout vocal cuts, the production retreating to minimal electronics so we can hear Suter’s voice, which here bears the powerful influence of Kate Bush. The backdrop plays around with echo effects that have a great impact on headphones, with a fulsome beat to go underneath.

Aquamarine is a beauty, with a dubby beat and rich vocals, building from small beginnings to an all-encompassing whole. Moon and Touche itself dabble more in the melancholy, with a longing arc to Suter’s singing above minor-key harmonies.

There are folksy tinges to the melody of Somewhere, which dispenses with drums and creates layered tunes, while the triple time Spin is pure fantasy. The final song, Tohu Bohu, is an enchanting story, taking all manner of musical turns as the electronics squiggle and squirm beneath, and ending with what feels like a heavenwards ascent.

Does it all work?

It does – and if anything on repeated listening the spell of Touche is cast deeper still. These are multilayered songs with much to reveal, and the structure of the album means there is a beautiful ebb and flow of emotions. They really do tell a story.

Is it recommended?

It is – O’o are quite a find for the InFiné label, and on the strength of this wonderful debut they could really go places.

Listen and Buy

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