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Orchestra Du Soleil

Mondial: An Excursion in Nuclear Music

(S.H.A.D.O.; UK: Available as import)

When I first put on Orchestra du Soleil’s new release, Mondial: An Excursion in Nuclear Music, I was a bit worried. Not because the music was foreboding, but because the album opens with effects that sound like the robot Bender from Futurama has scored himself some good technopium. Fortunately, the vocals entered in time to let me know that this disc was really just one of Fry’s dream sequences.


The second track, “Balloon Pt One”, improves slightly. It’s pleasant, but only pleasant. Stefane Tachvighi Bauer provides the wah-wah guitar that sets the mood, and it’s a nice effect. The track ends with what could be farm animal noises, and I’m not sure why. These noises will continue throughout the album, much to my pastoral dismay. Over the next few tracks I really lose focus. I even start wondering if I could listen to this album enough times and learn how to consciously induce my own hallucinations. I get confused.


Fortunately, track 6, “Dizzy Time Machine”, straightens me out a bit. This track has the album’s most notable drum track, and it makes interesting use of the human voice as a rhythm instrument. For the first time on this disc, the voices do something more than prettily pull down on my eyelids. The problem with the lulling singing on this album is that it is utterly incoherent. From “Dizzy Time Machine”: “Cold hearted time machine / Dizzy veils black mystery / Rising velocity / flexibal [sic] infinity”. Aside from the infinite being flexible, these lyrics are among the most straightforward that ODS give us.


I’ll concede any arguments about the lyrics, though. They aren’t there to say anything, but to build the mood. If I can read language-poetry, I can listen to this. Really I can. Wine. Bubble bath. Now we’re getting the right atmosphere in my “maison d’amour atomic” (which I’ll take as a compliment). Ah, there’s the obligatory ambient water noises in “Bion”, which may or may not be named after a line of skin care products. The good news is that the lyrics come in three languages on Mondial, so at least half the time I can’t understand what I wouldn’t be able to comprehend anyhow.


Although I’m itching to purge my ears with the Young M.C. cassette that someone gave me as a wedding gift (honest, on both counts), I’m not ready to give up on this album yet. It consistently sets a soft psychedelic mood and, when not soporific, it’s relaxing. To keep going, though, I’m going to need a little more information. ODS based their lyrics and music on “the theories & writings of Wilhelm Reich & David Bohm”. Reich was a psychoanalyst who founded the study of orgone, which is an energy that resides in all existing things. For this reason, apparently, the first and last tracks are named “Orgone I” and “Orgone II”. He also prioritized the orgasm in the human psyche, and believed sexual success was crucial for psychological well-being. Bohm said that everything in the universe was ultimately connected, and expanded this theory with writings on various energy systems existing in the universe.


I still don’t get it, but I do know that every track on Mondial flows into the next with an inherent connection, each song distinguished only by the existence of animal, water, or wah-wah energy. I also know that this album won’t help you with your orgasm situation. You other downtempo fans out there still have “Moon Safari” for that.


I’ve had enough of this album, and now I’m starting to get sleepy, avoir sommeil, and avere sonno. Maybe I should get up and bust a move. Maybe if I did it underwater, I’d fit right in with Orchestra du Soleil.

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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