Toog

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AllMusic Review by

On his 2010 album, Toog continues to explore the realms of serene electronic playfulness with roots reaching from past to present -- not for nothing, perhaps, does the opening "Traffic Jam" start with sounds of such an event, shifting into a keyboard line that sounds like it could have come from an early Roxy Music album either before or after Brian Eno left. If anything, it signals the sense of the continuous present throughout Toog's work, an analog/digital hybrid that seems dislocated from any particular style and era while still suggesting numerous references, a self-creation as collage. (Calling one song "Are Visages Electric" that hints at not one but two legends of the U.K.'s original synth pop explosion is one example alone, but even more striking is that the piano-led piece otherwise doesn't specifically recall either Gary Numan or Visage.) Songs often feature melodies that seem like rhythm tracks and vice versa, beds to drive rhythmic hyperactivity and washing collages of soft croons and samples, with Toog's own singing often consisting of short snippets in much longer songs, a suggestion of meaning rather than a lengthy lyrical meditation. The title track's combination of lost-in-digital-haze-and-echo vocal snippets and moody voices blended with a crisp, clear acoustic guitar progression is a strong point, as is "Alabama Gay" and its striking blend of robot voices, space pop beats, and cinematic melodrama -- and harmonica and what sounds like kazoo! -- with Toog's singing a sudden soothing counterpoint. The concluding "L'Esprit de l'Inventeur," meanwhile, features a guest known for his taste in music more than his own abilities -- director Michel Gondry, adding a quick spoken word break to a sweetly quirky blend of beats and tones.

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