Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Robot Sex Machine: The Vince Noir Project
I'm a pretty big fan of The Mighty Boosh. Though I used to find Noel Fielding quite endearing, my favourite half of the duo is Julian Barrett and his character Howard Moon (with whom I share a kinship of cockerel eyes and surreptitious Chinese burns). Having said that, when I discovered there was a band out there named The Vince Noir Project, named for Fielding's character, I still stopped and took a listen. I only became aware of this Phillippines-based band a few weeks ago, but I was rather surprised at what I heard. Their self-titled album, which released earlier this year, isn't filled with the whimsy of motorbikes of jealousy or man-sized kingfishers pecking you between the eyes. Instead, it is some rather great low-key electronic music (dare I use the term trip-hop) with a fantastically detached female vocalist akin sometimes to Tahita Bulma from New Young Pony Club and sometimes to Pip Brown of Ladyhawke. Not so much affable quirkiness in skinny jeans and white cowboy boots; rather more a femme fatale robot in heat. In fact this band may bear more resemblance to Fielding's girlfriend, Dee Plume's band Robots in Disguise (at least their debut album).
Vocalist Alessandra Tinio provides a cool, emotionally distant voice that often shifts into a staccato rapping of sorts. The album begins with Release It To the Wild, featuring Tinio at her seductive, lowest register as the track slinks along to a laidback downbeat until it descends into laser chaos. This is followed by 6 Million Gigabytes, a kinky, euphemistic song about...computers. Alter Ego uses rather grunge-sounding guitars, but paired with the dreamier side of Tinio's vocals, they don't seem out of place on this record. Market Love features chugging, stuttering rhythms and some deliberately vacant rapping a la Sarah Nixey that recounts a distinctly London narrative, which eventually declares that the artist scene is too much and that the narrator is "gonna get out of Bethnal Green." Metallic guitars slice through Alavet as Tinio references The Stranglers and Joe Strummer before the song starts to bounce along to a cheeky, punky beat and it oscillates between the two for the rest of the song before it's revealed that "alavet" is the phonetic spelling of "I love it." Taste the Rust starts with murky noise bubbling under scratchy guitar strings and Tinio raps again in her laconic fashion.
The only song explicitly about Fielding's character is Who's Vince Noir?, which is littered with Mighty Boosh references galore, including Cheek Bone magazine, mirrorball suits, affairs with polar bears, ponchos, Carlos Santana exercise suits and real French dukes. It is also the most upbeat, synthpoppiest track on the album and is built for being the perfect novelty song for Boosh fans. One of the released singles, Wha' a Git begins with the lines "This song reminds me of losing my virginity" as bass synths burble infectiously beneath minimalist drums; apparently Tinio caused a stir with her duct tape bra in the original music video, which then had to be censored. Tinio's vocal delivery switches between breathy sing-song and more tongue-in-cheek, matter-of-fact rapping that self-proclaims the narrator as a slapper. There's a slightly schizophrenic feel to the song as cool violin-like synths come in and a lounge feel kicks in. The record takes an unexpected turn with Rainbow in the Ocean, a twee-inflected, acoustic guitar-led track that namechecks Phil Spector and eventually tapers into a pleasant chorus of "shoop, shoop, shoop doo lang doo lang." The album concludes with Don't Need Anything From You, which sees the band switching back into buzzing electronic elements. The album also includes radio mixes of Release It To the Wild and Wha' a Git.
While this album could have descended into one-note novelty, it ends up maintaining your interest through the unpredictable variety of songs and genres. The Vince Noir Project, like their namesake, are good fun with a flashy facade that belies the wit and intelligence behind the fashionable, eye-catching exterior.
Release It To the Wild - The Vince Noir Project
Who's Vince Noir? - The Vince Noir Project