Did I really just misspell that band’s title? No, I couldn’t have. Well, wait, maybe? Nope, that’s the way it is supposed to be. The idea seemed simple enough, make an album that featured Angil Mottet’s brutally honest rapping/sing-song delivery and base it all around the sounds and uses of brass and woodwind instruments. Sounds cool enough right? Then one of the players jokingly said to leave out all the Es as they are often a pain to tune and more importantly, awkward for saxophonists. Something triggered a reaction and Mottet set out to make music without any Es, no E chords anywhere and also, no lyrics containing the letter E, anywhere.
With all of that said, we have Angil + Hiddntracks’ Ouliposaliva, a breathy, airy, classically-inspired album that features Mottet’s mystical ability, all sprinkled with a dash of hip-hop for good measure. The architect of the whole thing is Mottet and his ability to not only set out on an ambitious goal—one that seems near impossible to even this classically-trained musician’s ears—and not only accomplish it but master it. These are atmospheric songs filled with lush and varied sounds that make it one of the most unique albums 2009 will ever see.
Something as fresh and inviting as “Lift Trip to Mars” finds Mottet asking, “Is it shit music?” before answering, and with a resounding air of confidence, “No, it’s not. It’s sounds to occupy my vital air.” Ram-shackled pianos clink away, an atonal sax blows random notes and drums lightly deliver a steady soundscape of music that envelop the song in a translucent glaze. And it’s these exact kinds of songs that are painted all over Ouliposaliva.
Mottet wrote all of the lyrics and music and plays piano, drums, guitar and sings everything. However, he is massively supported by an impressive collection of musicians that lend their hands to craft a concoction of sweet sounds. The ‘third part’ of “You Most” comes together in an all-encompassing musical moment: saxes honk away when asked to and with a lulling care, deliver sharp dissonant chords when needed, clarinets swell with vibrant vibrato, trombones swamp with slide-ripping swells and trumpets coat everything with a haziness of sincerity. On a sheer musical level, this is exceptional.
And although this must have been painstakingly difficult and something that required meticulous care to detail, Mottet and his group of musicians have delivered something truly special. The albums first few songs reveal subtle touches of their goal: “Narrow Minds” has some of the more cohesive and agreeable music; the winds change chords with impeccable flow and Mottet sings in a dashing manner. As the album progresses, things get rough around the edges and cluster chords are introduced in an aggressive manner. All of this is done with a steady wand at the composer’s whip and it’s nothing short of amazing.
Once you get to the middle of “Kids” and you hear clarinets open in a call-and-response manner, before stirring strings appear, you know that the music will get much harsher. Mottet sings and dialogues about a stance many can agree on, the ease that children are able to attain weapons with. The penultimate song, “Sylvia Plath, Libby and Small Ghost,” has a downright, un-tuned and almost de-tuned piano that melodically delivers disjointed notes and chords before fitting strings and saxes appear. Everything ends with “Final List” and Mottet’s appropriate send-off which you will have to hear for yourself.
In all seriousness, this is an utterly brilliant experiment that is carried out with excellent style. The way this outfit has manipulated song structure is breathtaking. Throwing out the guidelines and rules that seem so ‘right’ and replacing them with free-forming and interchangeable parts was risky but boy, does it pay off. Ouliposaliva is an outstanding piece of music and one that should affect all music fans, of all genres.