Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Notions" by Prins Obi Sticks the Sounds of "Escape From New York"- "Ziggy Stardust" - "Saturday Night Fever" - "The Point" through a Musical Blender

"Notions" is the first solo full length by Prins Obi (from the psychodelic rock outfit Baby Guru) and the result is a trippy engaging affair. Prins creates a dream theater of sorts from songs and concepts that have been percolating in his fertile musical brain for 10 years.

The 11 tracks here are something to behold. When I listen to a collection of songs in total, my hope is that the entirety of the sound (in the least) takes me on some sort of journey and (at the most) inspires ideas. "Notions" succeeds in doing both. I can tell you that it is best to listen to this album when you are in a non jaded kind of dreamy head space. Best to listen when you have a little time to breathe.

The songs themselves contain sounds that at first listen can feel sort of cheesy. I mean the synth drone on a few songs feel right out of the John Carpenter soundtracks for "Escape to New York" and "Halloween" but as counterpointed by Prins oftentimes lush and forlorn vocals it all works. As an album it almost feels like if you took Sci-Fi electronic rock ala Georgio Moroder meets Blade Runner and threw in Bowie art rock ala Ziggy Stardust and Nilsson (Sountrack from the Point) and mashed it all up. Bringing up more modern artists, it feels a bit like Foxygen meets Gap Dream but not. It is a bit cheeky and charming and ultimately pretty moving in a dreamy way.

The track The Warmest Colour (for example) has an almost "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack warm up that gives away to a sweet pop song sprinkled with glam. The chorus transports you to such a lovely place.
Weekend Lovers also seduces you with it's simply pure tone that conjures up the space theater of Bowie. Robot love and hate inhabit the title track Notions. Total fun. Larry The King brings to mind "Devil's Haircut" by Beck. Prins as a storyteller is vague and poetic and I like that. In Couples which feels a bit like The Kinks (in an alternate universe). The Fender Rhodes key sound feels like a warm hug. The song warms up and warms up some more pulling you closer to the campfire.

Key to many of these songs are the earnest approach to the material. One of the most sincere tracks is Idolize You even though it's heartbeat feels like it comes from a Casio keyboard. This only lends to the sweetness. Prins wisely keeps the vocals stripped down with not a lot of production. Love this song. The most jammy track is Naked Dancers Union that jams and shifts between time signatures and tones from funky down beats to a glam ballad.

"Notions" in the end is a little mind blower of an album. It is a luscious chocolate Sundae sprinkled with peanuts and hallucinogens on a hot, humid summer day.

Robb Donker

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