Arling and Cameron: We Are A & C

Arling and Cameron
We Are a & C
Emperor Norton

Though you may not think you know what the duo Arling & Cameron sound like, you most likely have heard their music. This postmodern-kitsch-lounge-electro-europop group’s music has been featured in GapKid, Acura, and Fujitsu ads as well as in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and the HBO television hit The Sopranos.

Their latest release, We Are A & C, pushes them further into the spotlight. In 1994, Gerry Arling and Richard Cameron began putting out quirky recordings under many names including Popcorn, the Aloha Sisters, and Aicha. They then gained popularity in Japan and collaborated with cutesy-kitsch lounge group Pizzicato 5, idiosyncratic DJ Cornelius, as well as Fantastic Plastic Machine. It wasn’t until 1999 that they made their U.S. debut with All-In. Soon after, they released a project titled Music for Imaginary Films, in which they composed an entire fake soundtrack.

No one word can describe the sound of We Are A & C. Instead of stuffing their music into a tiny niche, Arling and Cameron combine styles to create something unique. Words used excessively for their music include retro, kitsch, lounge and europop, but there’s no way to really pinpoint their sound. And in this time of labeling every musician, it’s quite refreshing.

We are A & C jumps from ’60s-sounding surf rock to eurotrash punk and then to poppy lounge. The album features several vocalists including Olger Jankoviski, Fay Lovsky, Agi, Pamela Kunstin, and Stereo Total’s Francoise Cactus.

This diverse album deserves attentive listening and not a track should be skipped. Here are some highlights though. “Up”, with a loungey ’60s surf-rock feel mixed with some heavy electric beats, is sure to get people on the dance floor. For a dance tune, the song is refreshingly complex. Another standout is “Dirty Robot”, which features Francoise Cactus. This song is eurotrash new wave, complete with overdone string-sounding synth chords, robot voices and squeaky alien noises. It is also a rather danceable song. “Born in June” is probably the anomaly of the bunch. This soothing song features a breathy pop-lounge voice, a soulful synth accompaniment, and a low-tempo beat. “Multiplication Blues” is drastically different. In the opening bar, rowdy synth chords churn out something reminiscent of late-’60s heavy rock, especially when the Hammond organ-sounding parts come in. With the heavily filtered vocals singing “That’s how much I love you”, the track sounds like an electronic version of a Doors song.

This is one of those albums that will grow on you. I wasn’t particularly impressed when I first listened, but after catching the nuances in each song I was impressed. And if you’re ever looking for something to play at your next disco-lounge-retro-futurist dance soirée, look no further. We Are A & C is it.