Rising every handful of years from the underbelly of the Igorrr family comes Öxxö Xööx, a foreboding, even-flow of baroque doom that showcases the surprisingly slick matrimony of slow heavy tempos, bombastic organs and subversive operatic vocals. It is outlandish, patient, inventive, traditional, and a whole load of other descriptive terms which tend to contradict each other. ‘Awesome’ just about covers the whole spectrum.
As far as context goes, you’ll have to dig real deep to find it. Is that part of the appeal? Why, of course! You only have to look at the track listing (containing such titles as “44³”, “9C639”, and “Köböl(D)”) to know that the band take great pride in their abstract dwellings, and it’s a handle which shines with no lack of clout within the music. Öxxö Xööx are competent musicians of the highest calibre, but anything less than the unfathomably sideways approach to creativity is simply not their gift to the world.
If you haven’t already taken the Öxxö Xööx ride, then you are strongly advised to get involved. For the more seasoned samplers, I’m pleased to say that outing number three, Ÿ, is their finest crafting yet. It operates in the same vein of its two predecessors, but everything is a touch tighter, meaner, and more atmospheric. The guitars have taken on a new groovy metal sheen, the electronic components have found neater ways to enthrall without turning overbearing, and the vocals, well…that’s something else again.
The male and female duo of Laurent Lunoir and Laure Le Prunenec – most famed for their emotionally celestial performances under the Igorrr banner – are pure fire from start to finish. Lunior’s ultra low and often operatic growls and Le Prunenec’s siren-esque projections enrich the livelihood of Öxxö Xööx‘s soundscape in a gorgeously baffling manner. Acting in many ways as another instrument added to the palette, the voices of Ÿ are among its best feature. How they discovered that the high and low, beauty plus beast, combination operates so naturally with their already patented sound is something we’ll never know, but it works, and that’s the bottom line.
Structurally speaking, big praise is due also to this album for the manner in which it astounds on a steadily expansive level. Perhaps ‘subtle’ isn’t the best word to describe opening tracks “44³” and “D”, but they are certainly a more patient precursor to the explosive finale sounds of “3ën” and “999”. It might be tough to ascertain a story behind this album, but the musical narrative is strong enough to carry you regardless. Overall, Ÿ is a project that, for all its weirdness, is driven by sheer emotion, and the passion heard in its sound is singularly the easiest thing to grasp. It’s therefore tricky to imagine just how much work and patience went into the creation of this record. It’s been four years since the last one, let’s just put it that way!
Is Öxxö Xööx‘s Ÿ an unfathomable force which arrived to us from another dimension? Absolutely, it is! Within its epic nine-track format, we are subjected to a full-bodied, sinister, beautiful, and markedly clever experience, which grows, evolves and envelopes with each passing track, and none of it disappointingly normal. My advice to you is to forget pretty much everything else and allow some time to get misplaced in the alien forest that is this record. Öxxö Xööx is a captivating place to be. It takes a little time, patience and open-mindedness, but if you get that far, the reward will arrive surprisingly intuitively. Don’t let it pass you by!