Ebn Ozn

Feeling Cavalier

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Vocalist Robert Rosen (aka Ozn) and keyboardist Ned Liben (aka Ebn) made up one of the more unusual synth pop duos of the early '80s. The lone album they produced together plays something like a Malcolm McClaren outing, full of cross-cultural stylistic pillaging and leg-pulling BS. The difference is that, unlike much of McLaren's work, it lacks any sort of concept that might redeem it. Feeling Cavalier offers a messy mishmash of musical styles, with salsa ("Video DJ," featuring a guest turn by none other than Tito Puente); fake Africanisms ("Kuchenga Pamoja"); and Fairlight-heavy dance-rock competing for attention. And though the pair's hip irreverence sometimes pays off, as on the funny deflation of uptown artists, "Pop Art Bop," the jokes are more often broad-brush swipes on the order of "I Want Cash." The tongue-in-cheek tone also makes the earnest "Bag Lady (I Wonder)" seem even more out-of-place, although its clumsiness suggested the pair might be better off goofing around. The career highlight for Liben and Rosen was the single "AEIOU Sometimes Y," which combines intelligence, melody, and weirdness in just the right doses. Accompanied by a video that featured the ponytailed Rosen delivering a stream-of-consciousness rap about "this incredible Swedish girl," and with a more serious subtext about communication, it became a bizarre but deserved hit. It would be the only one for the pair; they split to work on other projects, and Liben died in 1998.

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